I was in the car with a friend the other day and he said how hungry he was. "Well, what have you eaten today?" I asked but I really wish that I hadn't.
"I haven't eaten anything today except for this morning when I had half of an Oporto burger left over from last night."
I wasn't the Oporto part that bothered me, I'm sure it's quite a fine establishment, it was the fact that he had eaten half of it one day and then saved the other half to eat the next day. It was the fact that he was eating half a burger for breakfast. It was the fact that he was reheating half of a day-old burger to have first thing in the morning. It was truly the saddest thing that I'd heard all day (in a privileged white female sense) and it got me thinking about all the other people in my life (myself included) that succumb to the shitty eating habits that are supposedly expected of a young twenty-something.
We're so lucky to have access to such a vast array of fresh, healthy food when others are struggling to get by, yet we still choose to gorge ourselves on Dominos or McDonalds, justifying it as the cheaper alternative to a home cooked meal, when it actual fact it's probably more expensive than buying a bunch of veggies which will often last us through the week.
The next week I was on the phone to my friend Rosie who announced with bursting delight, "Okay, I've got to go now, you'll be so proud of me, I'm actually cooking!" I was proud of her, not that she was a complete novice in the kitchen by any means but I sometimes felt that she just didn't get the point of making a fuss over cooking. "Oh cool, what are you making?"
"Pizza." The phone was silent on her end.
"From scratch or a frozen pizza?"
"Frozen, but I chopped up some capsicum and added more cheese!"
You had to give her points for trying.
I then thought back to my friend from uni whose claim to fame was the fact that he had only cooked twice throughout the entire year, a fact that we all found extremely hard to fathom.
"What do you mean you've only cooked twice throughout the WHOLE YEAR?" we'd ask him.
Surely that's not right, but when we looked back it kind of made sense. He was forever eating out, ordering in or occasionally skipping a meal completely and opting for a liquid diet of goon and good times.
"I put pasta in boiling water a few times last year... and I've heated the oven to make nuggets, but is that even cooking?" he asked.
No, no it's not.
"I will learn how to cook.I am capable of making basic food, like I'm not an idiot, but I may have some form of culinary dyslexia."
I can see the appeal of these instantaneous options. We live in a world of instant everything. Instant coffee, instant noodles, instantly dry paint and I guess with dating apps like Tinder we can also form an instant (and fleeting) connection with a human being.
I can hardly remember the days of dial-up internet and we when was the last time you had to wait any longer than 5 minutes in line at the grocery store? We can order a pizza by sending through a god-damn emoji for heaven's sake! So I understand the the interest in receiving your food through a hole in the wall in under 3 minutes, I really do, I just think it's time that we re-evaluated things.
The truth is we're impatient, busy and probably heavily addicted to the delicious salts and fats that ooze from these quick and easy meals. Salts and fats that are only going to satisfy us for a short amount of time. Salts and fats that, when consumed in excess over a long period of time, are only going to have negative effects on our physical and mental health.
I don't want to sound preachy, because I am literally eating a slice of pizza as I write this and there is absolutely nothing wrong with eating whatever your heart desires. I'm just suggesting that perhaps we take a little more time to consider where our food has come from, how we consume it and how lucky we are to have access to fresh, healthy and safe food options.
Next time you buy yourself an eggplant, give it a little kiss on the noogin' and say "Thank you, for just being you Eggplant," but wait until you get home to do this otherwise the shop assistant will send out a secret code over the loud-speaker that means something like, "Please escort the loony in isle twelve out of the vicinity. They are kissing the vegetables."
Image: Alex Jack