We hear it every day. Our kids are at risk; we are at risk; the planet is at risk. Much of this ‘risk’ can be put down to the food we choose to consume. Experts parade across our television screens telling us to eat real food and skip the junk. Documentaries flood movie screens telling us of the dangers of processed foods.
And then KFC hits us between the eyes.
Their new ad campaign preys on busy women…again. They show happy families (all fit and healthy, just like they would look if they ate KFC regularly, right?) chowing down on buckets of fried chicken and extolling the virtues of getting a free cake in the deal.
In one commercial, a mom says that dinner is not her strong suit…so she leaves it to KFC. Another shows a mom saying that for tonight, she doesn’t have to be ‘Mom.’ She can be herself.
If insulting women and our ability to feed our families isn’t enough; if telling women to take time off from being ‘Mom’ isn’t demeaning enough; KFC brought back the Double Down, “so meaty, there’s no room for the bun.’ Being thoroughly enjoyed by young, slim, fit, clear-skinned men; exactly what you think of when you think KFC (not so much); this train-wreck of an ad slams into our young people, appealing to their need for lots of food…fast.
It’s too much. I know advertising seems to have a license to…stretch the truth, but this is all going too far. Sure, mothers are busy and overwhelmed. Getting kids to eat healthy foods can be challenging. Most of us love junk food, the saltier, fattier and sugar-laden the better.
When it comes to food, America has been sold a bill of goods. We have been flimflammed, bamboozled and hoodwinked. We’ve been tricked into thinking that cooking is a chore, like washing windows and scrubbing floors, to be avoided at all cost; and if we must, then done only grudgingly and when absolutely necessary.
On the contrary, cooking is essential to life…a vital, nourishing act that should be performed with a certain reverence. After all, we are providing sustenance to the ones we love — can anything be more important? Can anything be more fulfilling in daily life?
It never ceases to amaze me that, with the exception of political ads, we don’t look at the lies that seem to be part of the DNA of commercials, particularly when it comes to food. Maybe we don’t want to know. Slick advertising washes over us without the slightest question or analysis. We need an advertising FactCheck.org for all these health stealing pirates…a way to hold them to the truth.
What burns me is the arrogance. The arrogance that they know the hearts of women; the arrogance that they can cook a better dinner for a family than a mom; the arrogance that they can bold-face lie to us that the slop they sell in that paper bucket is food that will keep our family well-nourished…when we all know these dinners in a bucket will wreck our health and contribute to the pollution and depletion of resources on our planet.
And we buy it. Sure, it’s convenient and easy. There’s no mess in the kitchen. We did not need to slice, dice and sauté to get a meal on the table. We simply had to swing by KFC, grab a bucket and turn over our hard-earned money…for food that will steal our health. And we get a cake!
I can already hear the keys tapping on computers as people rail against me for telling them to cook. How can I possibly know how busy everyone is? How can I know how long it takes to make a healthy dinner…and then noses get turned up because the family is used to intensely-flavored processed foods so natural foods seem dull by comparison?
Save your energy and your typing. I have heard all the excuses: lack of time; food that isn’t yummy; lack of resources. Do you know what the real problem is?
Lack of will.
We have decided to succumb to the siren call of advertising that tells us they can make dinner for us and it will be easier, tastier, less costly and less messy. But in the end, the cost is high. We lose our health; we lose our vitality; we lose our connection to nature and what it means to be human.
Dramatic you say?
Think of it this way. When we prepare a home-cooked meal, we connect with each other in a most unique and human way. We gather around the hearth and create community at the table. We learn social skills essential to humanity: sharing, communication; justice…all at dinner.
I agree with Michael Pollan as he eloquently points out that no one stands around the microwave watching the frozen meal spin around. But everyone gathers in the kitchen as the perfumes of cooking seduce and nourish them before they even take a bite.
Does cooking take more time? Yes. Is it work? Yes. Is there a mess to clean up? Sure. But look at it this way. If we are what we eat (and I believe we are…) then many of us are cheap and easy.
For the world to be a better place, we need to aspire to more. We need to aspire to better. We need to return to the kitchen and cook dinner from scratch regularly, not as a stressed out occasion on a holiday. When cooking is a part of your day, you feel more nourished, balanced and serene. You decide what is in your food; how much you will consume and the quality of the ingredients. And you add the most important ingredient; one that you won’t find in any fast food joint, even if there is a kindly old colonel with white hair on the sign: