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These days – in the midst of the Coronavirus/ COVID-19 pandemic – the entire world is changing how they function. Many of us are having to get creative with our finances, getting simple supplies like toilet paper, and even the way we eat – especially when it comes to cooking! The GREAT news is…

… People are finally cooking more!

How Covid-19 Is Making Millions of Americans Healthier
Dimitri Staszewski for The New York Times

Rachael Ray, Blue Apron and Michael Pollan all tried in their own ways. But Covid-19 has done what none of them could do.

At a scale not seen in over 50 years, America is cooking, a healthy move in the middle of a pandemic.

Yes, we are using restaurant delivery services more and demand for packaged goods has skyrocketed. Even sales of the unpalatable Hamburger Helper are up. But the frequency and consistency of cooking presents a tremendous public health opportunity.

In one recent survey, 54 percent of respondents said they cook more than before the pandemic, 75 percent said they have become more confident in the kitchen and 51 percent said they will continue to cook more after the crisis ends. Interest in online cooking tutorials, recipe websites and food blogs has surged. Dozens of recipe writers and cookbook authors such as Alison RomanJet Tila, and Julia Turshen are frenetically posting ideas and answering questions on Twitter and Instagram.

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“I feel like this virus is a conspiracy to make me learn how to cook,” Eliza Bayne, a television producer tweeted.

“I visited my kitchen on occasion prior to corona,” Kedene McDowell, a graduate student at New York University said, “now I am one with my kitchen.”

Young adults are FaceTiming parents to get tips in the kitchen, and even the self-declared cooking inept are now making oatmeal, at least.

Nearly everyone is making an effort. Cookbooks are rarely among the top-selling books on Amazon. Yet this week, “Magnolia Table, A Collection of Recipes for Gathering” by Joanna Gaines is No. 2. The search term “online cooking classes” saw a fivefold increase on Google over the past four weeks, and the search title “cook with me” saw a 100 percent increase in average daily views on YouTube in the second half of March.

This surge in cooking is meaningful, as people who frequently cook meals at home eat more healthfully and consume fewer calories than those who cook less, according to multiple studies.

Related: Cooking local: When Only Fresh Will Do

One of the biggest barriers to cooking frequently is that it takes practice and time to gain proficiency and ease. That initial training time has simply not been available to most Americans, as the pace of life has intensified over the decades. Nor has there been a perceived need to cook because prepared and fast foods were readily available.

The pandemic has put everything on pause, and almost every “nonessential” worker, employed or unemployed, is now enrolled in a de facto home economics course. Cooking is at the top of the curriculum. The course will be months or years long. Even if “stay-at-home” orders are lifted, cooking will be the most cost-effective way to eat during a deep recession.

An increase in the frequency of cooking does not necessarily mean we are getting healthier during the pandemic. Tragedy and fear are making us stress-eat, as we drown ourselves in tubs of ice cream or binge bake. Moreover, with gyms closed and movement restricted, many of us are now more sedentary than ever. But we are acquiring an ancient skill that has been shown to help people live better and longer. If we apply that skill with greater frequency over the long run, it could reduce our risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Related: A Complete Guide to Cooking With Garden Herbs For Simple, Healthy Meals

A poor diet is the biggest underlying cause of mortality in America, and that poor diet is largely delivered by large food companies like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s. Just 10 dietary factors (such as high intake of processed meat and refined grains) are estimated to cause more than 1,000 deaths per day from heart disease, stroke and diabetes alone. More than 100 million Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes and 122 million have cardiovascular disease.

Frequent cooking could make a difference in outcomes — on average, people who frequently cook at home eat less fat and sugar than other people. Most restaurants and many large food companies, after all, use levels of salt, sugar and fat that would be inconceivable for home cooks.

Cooking as an element of good health is starting to catch on. A number of medical schools, such as George Washington University and Tulane University, now have culinary schools or culinary programs.

That need has never been higher, since the coronavirus has been most threatening to people with food-related chronic diseases. About 90 percent of those who become seriously ill due to the virus have an underlying condition — hypertension and diabetes being the most common.

Once life rebounds, we may go back to our previous ways, but our palates will have experienced a reset and our hands would have acquired an artful skill. Family ties would have strengthened for many, as cooking is a group activity and is deeply fulfilling and nurturing. There will be many lessons from the coronavirus pandemic, but we would be wise not to forget this one. This newfound proficiency could be lifesaving.

Hans Taparia is a food entrepreneur and clinical associate professor at NYU Stern School of Business.

Source: The New York Times

Are you cooking more these days? Even after life gets back to “normal”, will you go back to your old cooking/ eating routine? Please leave your comment below. Thanks!


Ericka Scott

I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2000. Since then, I've been on a mission to help myself and loved ones living with Diabetes and High Blood Pressure, to prepare healthy and TASTY meals. Now, I'm here to help YOU do the same!

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