Before you go see Julie & Julia this weekend, read Michael Pollan's manifesto on the "spectatorization" of cooking--how the cooking show phenomenon has caused Americans to cook even less...and what sort of negative implications the shift has had on our psyches--and waistlines.
Pollan reminisces about watching "The French Chef" as a child, notes how the verb "to cook" now means buying a bunch of products and dumping them together, and how Food Network shows now sound like ESPN play-by-play. Along the way, he throws in several startling facts--the average American spends 27 minutes a day on food preparation and that the most popular meal in America is a sandwich and a soda--and laments the fact that food marketers have convinced parents to buy frozen pb&j sandwiches for their kids.
Oh, and the solution to America's obesity epidemic, as per food market researcher Harry Balzer? Three words: Cook it yourself.