Food fight: Kim O’Donnel

Author of The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook, Kim O’Donnel thinks we should all be making more time to cook.

Kim O’Donnel is a trained chef, online food personality and long-time journalist whose catchy book title says it all: The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook. A vegetarian cookbook not pitched at vegetarians, its 52 meals suggest an environmentally and personally healthy alternative once a week. We asked the American if people should be talking about food, nutrition or eating?

We should be talking about all three, but there’s something missing from your question: Cooking!

In the developed world, we’re talking about food – and watching it being prepared on television – at unprecedented levels. But for too many of us, cooking has been relegated to the junk file of our lives – the every-once-in-a-while, dust-it-off exception to the rule. Just half of American adults cook at home, for about 30 minutes a day. This is not a new phenomenon; the needle on everyday home cookery has been stuck since 2003 (when the USA Bureau of Labour Statistics began compiling its annual Time Use Survey).

As a result, we have fallen into a collective coma, a legion of unwittingly passive spectators that will eat anything set in front of us, no questions asked. By taking a pass at the stove, we have been elbowed out of the table, headed by genetically modified corn and soya barons with really big appetites for big money and little-to-zero interest in protecting the soil, the animals, the workers and the ever-hungry consumer.

Here’s what happens when we cook: We ignite our five physical senses. We wake up the muscles in our hands and eyes. We discover how things work and the consequences of our actions. We learn how high the heat must be for oil to sizzle but not too high or the oil will burn. We get creative and paint with our food, blending colours, textures and aromas. We become nurturing, feeding our loved ones and ourselves. We directly experience the benefits of our practice. We talk less, yet we have a voice. We participate in the process.