The rise of convenience
It seems like eating has become a chore, an inconvenience. To be forgotten, to be done one the go, while in the car, while walking down the street, forgone completely instead of just drinking a smoothie or replaced with coffee.
A traditional time to share food with friends and family is now most often a solo affair more likely to happen in front of a computer or while watching TV. No wonder we are plagued with bad habits around our eating practices and digestive discomfort. Inhaling our meals or blended meal replacements in a matter of minutes and then left wondering why we have heartburn, gas and bloating. When I worked in an office I would eat my breakfast and lunch at work in the name of productivity and time saving which is probably the norm for most adults these days.
Whenever I travel to places like Europe or South America I rarely see people even drinking coffee on the go, let alone the super sized cups of brown water everyone is guzzling while they walk in in North America. There's few places offering take away food or drinks except of course the ubiquitous fast food restaurants like McDonalds. In these places it’s still the case that food should be enjoyed, eaten at a table, smelled and tasted. But slowly even these cultures are changing and modernising with convenience foods and common brands expanding their market into new countries.
Would you swap a whole meal for a pill or shake?
Seeing a complete meal replacement Soylent for sale at a supermarket in upstate NY this year was eye opening, are people really buying and drinking things like that? A person out there wants to drink a third of their nutritional requirements suspended in a soy beverage instead of eating a meal. Convenience is behind the countless protein and meal replacement bars. I’ve always thought maybe there is an elusive great tasting bar out there but there just isn't because a dry square of food stuffs that has to last a long time without spoiling just doesn't compare to fresh food no matter how “natural”, “organic” or “whole food” the ingredients are.
Healthy convenience can stop me ordering a pizza.
On the other hand convenience can be a complete blessing. Spending time in Argentina made me see what a modern marvel it is to go into a supermarket and buy pre-washed salad leaves and a hot cooked chicken. Don’t get me started on having countless kombucha or dark chocolate options.
Having to make everything from scratch gets seriously annoying after a while, but that’s how everyone lived before the processed food revolution, maybe that’s why people were less likely to overeat or become obsessed with food. Having easy access to hyper-palatable snacks everywhere you turn is where we are now, but imagine having to cook from scratch for every french fry or croissant craving.
I’m still not completely sure how to achieve the elusive balance. But sitting down to enjoy most of my meals with no distractions is definitely a priority for me, it’s also key for good digestion.