3 reasons why learning to cook can save your humanity

Author by Yeah Dave (David Romanelli)

I just don’t get it. My girlfriend is so hooked on the cooking shows and watches them as if they were huge events. Top Chef, Chopped, Next Food Network Star, 30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray, etc, etc. I find them so boring, and every night I take a stand trying to watch sports games, or Entourage, or anything but the cooking shows.

Recently, I saw an article* that brought to light our fascination with cooking shows and how they are hurting America. Of course, I jumped at the article and was itching to triumphantly share it with my soon-to-be defeated girlfriend. But after reading the article, I realized…it wasn’t so much taking shots at the cooking shows as it was taking shots at all those people who don’t know how to cook. That would be me. I don’t know how to cook. The article strongly suggested that by my lacking that skill, I’m slowly but surely losing my humanity.

This notion supports what I try to express in my Yoga + Chocolate and Yoga + Wine workshops. When we spend so much time in front of the gadgets (whether they be the TV, computer, or cell phone), our minds become over-stimulated and our senses begin to atrophy.  A huge part of cooking is the sensory ecstasy of the spices and sauces pushing your thoughts and worries aside and drawing you into the moment (or so I’ve heard).  So many days go by in this crazed Information Age where we lack even a single moment of sensory pleasure. Sometimes all it takes is one amazing moment to make your day just right.

So I’ve decided to start cooking. And if you’re like me and don’t cook, following are 3 reasons that might convince you how learning to cook can save your humanity:

1. People who Cook are Healthier

Think about it. In the old days, when there were no processed foods, one could only eat what they could create with their hands. It would have been very complex to create a Twinkie from scratch. Nowadays, we can purchase countless ready-to-eat treats that require 30 seconds to heat in the microwave. And God knows what’s inside of those treats. The science shows that by taking the time to create what we eat, we will be healthier. Consider this:  “Poor women who routinely cooked were more likely to eat a more healthful diet than well-to-do women who did not.” *

2. People who Cook Have a Healthy Sense of “Time”

People are spending significantly less time in the kitchen today than we did in the past. In face, today the average American spends 27 minutes a day on food prep. That’s less than half of what we spent per day in 1963.* Why? We’re busy and if you’re halfway normal, you probably feel like you lack the time to cook. I once read that meditation creates more time than it takes. And I’d venture to say cooking has the same effect.  The yogis teach that with love, you can bend and shape time to your liking.  Rumi put it perfectly: “Come out of the circle of time and into the circle of love.” So if you never feel like you have enough time, I encourage you to embrace the magic potion known as “love” and all the passions and gateways that get you there…particularly cooking. When love takes precedent over work, the paradigm flips. And time is less an angry master demanding our every second…and more a joyful friend eager to please.

3. Cooking Gave Us Our Humanity, Not Cooking Might Take It Away

When our ancient ancestors learned to work with food and fire, they diminished the time needed to chew raw meat and vegetables… while also unlocking certain nutrients from cooked foods. Their brains got bigger and their intestines got smaller.* And they became human. In the modern day, as less and less humans are cooking, more and more humans are becoming obese, lazy slobs. Our brains are getting smaller and our bellies are getting bigger. Might we be reverting to our more primitive selves?  Next time you see someone (it might be me) porking out on processed foods, and vegging out in front of the TV, you just might be seeing a future human being…something akin to our animalistic monkey relatives of the distant past. It’s not too late to get our butts in the kitchen and save our humanity.

As I try to emphasize in my book, sometimes there are remarkably simple solutions to seemingly impossible problems. I just didn’t realize cooking was one of them.

by David Romanelli (www.YeahDave.com)

The Editor’s Review:

My whole family cooks (both men and women), even my brother in law cooks. I’ve been cooking since I was a kid myself. I’m 33 years old, and to me cooking is a life skill, one that “everyone” should have, including men. I feel bad for those who never got the chance to learn because they are definitely missing out.

Both my dad and mom taught me to cook. By 10, I learned how to cook steaks, hamburgers, soups and stews from scratch, and of course make sandwiches. By 12, I learned how to grill burgers, hot dogs, boneless rib patties and chicken. It’s been uphill ever since and most of the skills I originally learned, I have improved on with practice. I’ve never taken a single cooking course but I do watch cooking shows occasionally and check out recipes online. Good Eats is my favorite shows.

I’ve gotten so good at cooking that nowadays I can make a great tasting meal out of almost any miscellaneous batch of common ingredients from the pantry or fridge without looking at a cookbook or recipe. I make both regular meals, and meals from my heart. When I make my concoctions (as I like to call them), my family is usually weary at first, but they almost always end up loving them and wanting seconds. Unfortunately, I usually forget how to make them as fast as I can create and cook them. I still try to learn how to cook conventional recipes too. Like the other day, I learned to make meatballs for spaghetti for the first time because my brother asked for it, and boy was it good. I usually just browned and broke up the hamburger but now I may make meatballs from here on out. That’s what is great about cooking though, there are no boundaries. Make whatever you want, eat what tastes good and toss the rest.