In his beautifully produced Netflix documentary series “Cooked,” Michael Pollan exhorts us to get back into the kitchen and rekindle the tradition humans have enjoyed for millenia of creating nutritious meals from fresh ingredients. Doing so will not only help combat increasing rates of diabetes and obesity, he says, it will also save culinary traditions quickly being lost.
It’s a great suggestion for those who have the time, resources and interest in cooking. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer consumers are falling into that category.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Americans spend the least amount of time cooking of any other population. Unfortunately, countries around the globe, particularly in the developing world, are following that trend: the second episode of Cooked includes a visit to India, where the convenience and aspirational appeal of fast food and processed food is rapidly catching on, much to the dismay of traditionalists and public health officials.
To blame, says Pollan, are long workdays that leave no time for meal preparation, and cheap center-of-the store processed foods, engineered with high levels of fat and sugar.
Many American consumers are cooking — just not from scratch — and would actually like to cook more, says the research firm The Hartman Group in Forbes, but time and money get in the way. Instead, they’re eating on the run and reaching for convenient snacks.
The firm says food companies can meet the demand for convenient, nutritious food options by offering healthy ready-to-eat meals, and customizable products that can be eaten alone or mixed with other ingredients for variety or to create larger meals. Other opportunities include offering base ingredients, such as a grain or protein that can be complemented with vegetables and sauces and global cuisine featuring new and exciting ingredients.
All of those options are possible with 915 Labs’ microwave sterilization and pasteurization technology (MATS™ and MAPS™), which allow food companies to produce convenient, natural, healthy foods that retain their nutrients, color, texture, and flavor, and eliminate the need for excess salt and unnatural additives. At our MATS Boot Camp, culinary experts and food companies from around the world have been using our pilot processing system to produce a whole new world of clean-label, healthy, safe and nutritious shelf stable foods that taste unlike anything on grocer shelves today, from gourmet soups to rice and pasta dishes to complete meals.
As much as I hope Pollan can persuade modern consumers to cook from scratch more frequently, the reality is that we in the food industry need to meet time-crunched consumers in the middle. 915 Labs’ MATS and MAPS technologies give both health experts and consumers what they’re looking for: real food and convenience too.
Cooked stills courtesy of Netflix.