Today, less than one-third of North Americans cook their evening dinners from scratch, according to a new survey by the Institute of Food Technologists. The data shows a 7% reduction over the past two years. Although 75% of Americans are eating their dinners at home, nearly half those meals are fast food, delivery or takeout from restaurants or grocery delis.
In fact — get ready for this — we spent more on fast food last year than on education.
There is an extensive list of evolving reasons (and, in some cases, excuses) why people are eating out more and more. In an era where we can order anything online and walk out the door to a dizzying array of meal options, it’s no wonder we don’t eat in. It should come as no surprise that this habit has very real consequences; eating out more frequently is associated with obesity, higher body fatness and higher BMI (body mass index).
There have been some very positive advances, such as Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution targeted at youth and schools. As he states, “our kids are growing up overweight and malnourished from a diet of processed foods, and today’s children will be the first generation ever to live shorter lives than their parents. It’s time for change.” This change is being championed by several organizations, but has not yet penetrated the daily choices of the average consumer.
The Forks Over Knives documentary has been dubbed one that can “save your life.” In it, they outline research which led to a startling conclusion: “degenerative diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even several forms of cancer, could almost always be prevented — and in many cases reversed — by adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet.”
Furthermore, an online magazine with gaining popularity titled Kinfolk acts as a guide for small gatherings. This worldwide collaboration includes beautiful photos and videos from various regions. As they state in their manifesto, “We recognize that there is something about a table shared by friends, not just a wedding or once-a-year holiday extravaganza, that anchors our relationships and energizes us.”
Other positive changes are being pioneered by the integration of technology and tradition. Last week at Lovesocial we co-launched the “Eat at Home Revolution” for Foodily, a web and Facebook-based application which acts as an aggregator for recipes. Users can tailor their search to indicate allergies and request gluten-free or fat-free recipes.
The “Eat at Home Revolution” is an outspoken movement that hopes to engage people to participate in the simple act of eating at home. It also allows for intimate interactions, such as meal planning or recipe sharing with Facebook friends — a new twist on an old classic.
Technology, in many ways, has acted as an accelerator. However, there are other ways to utilize the same platforms to facilitate a back-to-basics idea. And what better way than the oldest tradition worldwide: a meal, at home, shared with the ones you love.