The Perception of Convenience

I should say outright that I’ve always been a cook, so I almost can’t understand those who don’t or won’t make meals from scratch. However, I’m willing to concede that some are just not wired that way. I’ve especially noticed that folks who have a hard time sitting still in general are often not good cooks because they can’t focus on the task at hand and tend to burn everything.

I worry, though, that this is more cultural than developmental. I worry that since we’re so removed from traditional food preparation and sourcing, we’re passing the notion on to our children that food comes from shiny, brightly colored packages and shouldn’t require any attention.

Those of us who put a lot of thought into our food know better. This takes effort and consideration. So does anything worthwhile.

But let’s take the case of someone…mmm…like my husband, Brian. When I met him, his diet consisted mostly of cereal and baby carrots. Let’s give him a pass since he was going through his medical residency and didn’t have the time to think about silly things like eating, sleeping, or going to the bathroom. But now?

That's how we do it.

I do all the shopping and cooking. I mean ALL. To be fair, this is also due to my love of those sorts of things. I’m cool with our division of labor, as stereotypical as it is. He brings home the bacon, I fry it up in a pan. But the one time I sent him to the grocery store after our daughter was born, he looked so lost that a worker asked if he needed help. Brian then got the personal shopper experience as the worker took him around to all the aisles and filled his cart for him.

How would this man go Paleo/Primal without me? One answer: he wouldn’t. Why? For many people, convenience trumps health. We see this all the time. People know not to eat and drink the bad stuff, but they still do. It’s like the no-smoking movement—it’s not like people don’t know better, and to assume that all they need is a PSA is myopic. So while the foodie movement in this country is gathering strength and introducing many to the benefits of real food, many are being left behind. Obviously, there are several reasons behind this, and while I could go on and on about advertising or socioeconomic factors, I’m interested in the simple things that keep otherwise capable people from eating real food.

Let’s take breakfast for example: Cereal vs. Egg. If we only measure for time, the cereal will win, but not by as much as we think. I make an egg every morning for my daughter. I put the smallest skillet I have on the stove, start the flame beneath it, grab the stuff out of the frig (egg, butter, cheese), cut a pat of butter into the pan, crack an egg in, break the yolk, wait for the underside to be cooked, flip it over, add cheese, turn off flame. Voila. I think it took longer to type the process than it takes to actually do it. I also manage to make my morning tea during that time. But if you ask a cereal eater why they don’t make an egg instead, they’ll tell you cereal is faster and more convenient. This barrier is entirely psychological, arbitrary, and self-defeating. It’s like people say to me, “I could never eat all that meat.” And inside, I say, “Well, then, you’ll also never lose that weight.”

I don’t mean to entirely knock convenience. Obviously everything we do has to have benefits that outweigh the costs. I wish there was a good-tasting mayo I could buy at the store that didn’t have nasty vegetable oils and sugars in it, because I can’t just whip up a batch every time I want it. Are there nights when I wish there was a Paleo-friendly version of pizza delivery? You betcha. But when did convenience become more important than taste? Health? Sanity? Doesn’t it seem that if we all took a little more time every day to nourish ourselves and those we love that life would be a little better?

It’s a pretty idea, but one that I take seriously. And when we find ourselves leaning back toward those old, bad convenience habits, we should remind ourselves that even though it’s faster, it’s not better. We’ve made the right decision for our health by eating this way. Now all we have to do is actually follow through.

How was your transition to Paleo/Primal eating? Were you an avid chef before, or did you have to get with the program?




3 Responses to “The Perception of Convenience”

  1. get an egg cooker, put six eggs in an boil them – lasts for a day or two and is 60 secs work :-)

    I actually dont mind paleo cooking – my wife makes all the complicated stuff, but paleo tends to be easy: fry or grill a steak, steam a fish and some veggies, or bake a roast (not fancy: put the oven on, put the meat in, wait 60min, take the roast out, and ideally switch the oven off). Arguably it is easier to make a roast than a frozen pizza, especially if you upgrade the latter….

  2. Ooh, I’ve never heard of an egg cooker. I will have to look around and see if we have them over here.

    I agree, I feel like food prep is so much easier now that I don’t have to worry about timing the rice or pasta. When grilling season starts, it’ll get even easier. :)

  3. You sure do – they are pretty cool: And they give you a great party question: why do you have to put the less water in the more eggs you boil at the same time?

    FYI – the way it works is that the water is permanently boiled and the eggs are cooking in the steam. They are deemed ready once all the water has left through the small hole in the lid. So more eggs = less water seems somewhat counterintuitive…

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