kitchenCritical Blog



Off Of The Couch
February 27, 2010

I answered the phone the other day and a voice said, "You guys still planning to launch that kitchen website? Now?! You might as well go into business selling manual typewriters. Door to door. Or open a darkroom supply store. Didn’t you read Michael Pollan’s cover piece in the Magazine section a few months back? No one spends time in their kitchen anymore."

My regular-riot, know-it-all ex-husband was referring to a website in development for which I write/edit. And to Pollan’s article “Out of the Kitchen and Onto the Couch”, published in the Sunday Times last August.

The site I work for wants to be THE kitchen website: the first-to-mind destination for free, authoritative information about all manner of kitchen issues. The idea is to offer the most useful wide array of up-to-date resources and expert advice, to help consumers, renovating homeowners, networkers, and foodies of all types to get the most from their kitchens.

Along comes guru Michael Pollan to describe how we live in our kitchens today—not. Or, as he puts it, "the decline and fall of everyday home cooking." He reports that the average American today spends 27 minutes a day preparing food–less than half the time we spent in the 1960s; and much of that time goes to microwaving frozen items or heating up canned food. He cites our longer work weeks, particularly among women, as one cause of the destruction of the culture of home cooking. And he talks about how we’ve fallen in love with watching other people cook, particularly on commercial TV, while the thrill of creating meals in our own kitchens is gone. But the main culprit, he argues, is the industrialization of food. With the ubiquity of processed foods, a marketing approach which has resulted in packaged foods giving way to packaged meals, and the around-the-clock, multi-media promotion of consumption over production, the corporations have persuaded us to let them cook the food we eat.

So what’s an ad-revenue supported website, dedicated to enhancing the time its users spend in their kitchens, to do, when so many of its potential users are sitting on the couch, eating take-out, watching Bobby Flay on the FN?

Answer: Jump whole hog on the Michael Pollan is a total rock star bandwagon. Don’t just endorse the idea that people should spend less time on the couch and more time in the kitchen with real food. Entice them in. Empower them in their own kitchens. Show them what they stand to gain, show them a lot of ways to make their kitchen time more satisfying, for themselves and for everybody else on the scene.

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Updated: February 27, 2010