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The Black White and Grey of Eating in Modern Times

October 13, 2011 by Dean Simmons, Registered Dietitian

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If you listen to the news, you might begin to think that the world is neatly divided into ‘left and right, North and South, East and West’.

The world of food and nutrition often falls into this kind of thinking. We find it hard to resist classifying foods as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for us. You may have heard that “nobody cooks anymore”! This preposterous claim is often cited as contributing to childhood obesity and fractured families. Just as the world is neither black nor white, modern home cooking happens in a shifting grey zone between meals that are made completely from scratch and meals that come ready-to-eat from the food industry.

We mix and match foods from different sources to make satisfying meals in much less time than previous generations spent in the kitchen. Home cooking is not dead, we just cook and eat differently now than we did 50 years ago. Modern families make more use of take-out, prepared foods from grocery stores, and convenience food products.

 Even though I am a big believer in home cooking, I use convenience products like canned tomatoes, frozen vegetables, fruit, veggie burgers and perogies, store made breads and condiments in my cooking all the time. On occasion, if I’m too busy or tired to cook I’ll order in a pizza or sushi platter.  I operate in that grey zone. I like to cook, but not all the time and not always from scratch.

I am thankful for labour saving convenience products and a wide array of good eateries in my neighbourhood. To me, as a dietitian and modern home cook, healthy eating isn’t about ‘good’, ‘bad’, or even ‘super’ foods. For me, healthy eating is about achieving balance both in terms of the food guide, and in terms of using a mix of whole and prepared foods throughout the week in a way that nourishes my family, keeps meals varied and interesting and doesn’t require excessive amounts of time in the kitchen.

How do you use prepared and convenience foods in your family? Tell us here!

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