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Home-Cooking: Gender-Neutral and Too Important To Outsource.

Posted Apr 21 2013 10:01pm

Posted on | April 18, 2013 |

Home may be “where the heart is”, but few would argue that it is currently “where the health is”. In America, we abhor homelessness, but we have historically been unusually tolerant of “healthlessness”.

Many of us worked on the concept of “Medical Home” only to find it fall far short in its’ implementation. The problem?  6 Words: “TOO MUCH MEDICAL, NOT ENOUGH HOME.”(1) The reality is that Medical Home or medicalized home, is no substitute for a Healthy Home supported by Home-Centered Health Care.(2)

Focusing on home as the center of health makes INCREDIBLE sense. Take a look at these two slides.

One uses icons to illustrate all of the differing… determinative behaviors of health and human potential that emanate from the home. The second lists the major contributors to the “burden of disease” – all of which originate or are potentiated by unhealthy behaviors that were planted in the home.

If health professionals are slow to absorb these basics truths, others are not. One in particular is Michael Pollan, author of ,  and , and the leader of the burgeoning “whole foods” movement. His famous 7 words: “EAT FOOD. NOT TOO MUCH. MOSTLY PLANTS.” This week, in his new book, , he adds 2 more words, and…”COOK THEM.” (3)

In those 9 words, Pollan opens the door to a “Healthy Home” by focusing first and foremost on good nutrition. What are his insights?

1. Producing good food, and understanding the elements of good nutrition, has limited effect on your family’s health if you allow someone else to choose the ingredients in your food and prepare it.

2.  “ People who cook eat a healthier diet without giving it a thought. It’s the collapse of home cooking that led directly to the obesity epidemic.”(4)

3. “And you’re going to use higher-quality ingredients than whoever’s making your home-meal replacement would ever use. You’re not going to use additives. So the quality of the food will automatically be better.”(4)

4. “You’re also not going to cook much junk. I love French fries, but how often are you going to cook them? It’s too hard and messy. But when they’re made at the industrial scale, you can have French fries three times a day. So there’s something in the very nature of home cooking that keeps us from getting into trouble.”(4)

5. “If we decide to outsource all our cooking to corporations, we’re going to have industrial agriculture. And the growth of local, sustainable and organic food, and farmers’ markets, is going to top out if people don’t cook. Because big buys from big, and I have little faith that corporations will ever support the kind of agriculture we want to see. That’s why the most important front in the fight to reform the food system today is in your kitchen.”(4)

6. KFC famously marketed their chicken bucket as “Womens Liberation”.(4)  Pollan says, “We need to complete that uncomfortable conversation about the division of domestic labor, which the food industry deftly exploited to sell us processed food. But if we’re going to rebuild a culture of cooking, it can’t mean returning women to the kitchen. We all need to go back to the kitchen.”

7. “Cooking links us to nature, it links us to our bodies. It’s too important to our well-being to outsource.”(4)

8. . “We need to bring back home ec, but a gender-neutral home ec.”(4)

9. “ We need public health ad campaigns promoting home cooking as the single best thing you can do for your family’s health and well-being. A tax on prepared food, but not on raw ingredients, is another good idea.”(4)

10. “Michelle Obama could use her bully pulpit to promote home cooking, rather than spend her considerable capital persuading food manufacturers to tweak their products.”(4)

Home-cooking – too important to outsource!

For Health Commentary, I’m Mike Magee.


1. Magee M. New Models of Care. IOM Summit on Integrative Medicine and The Health of The Public. and

2. Magee M. Home-Centered Health Care. 2007 Spencer Books.

3. Pollan M. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. 2013.

4. Bittman M. Pollan Cooks! New York Times.

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