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So, about half a month ago, when I started writing this post, Yglesias argued that the way celebrity chefs should be helping people eat healthier food is by aiding the production of pre-packaged meals that are better for you.   Why?

If over time people were getting poorer, but the number of hours in the day was getting longer, and gender norms were shifting toward the idea that women should get married young and drop out of the workforce in order to do unpaid domestic work, then obviously people would start cooking more. But that’s not what’s happening. Compared to people in 1959, people in 2009 have more money, less time, and less ability to call on socially sanctioned unpaid domestic labor. So obviously they’re going to cook less. Or to look at it another way, there are lots of things you can do in 2009 that you couldn’t do in 1959—read a blog, download an MP3, get a movie from Netflix on Demand. There are also a lot of things you can do in 2009 that were prohibitively expensively in 1959—fly cross-country, make a long-distance phone call to your sister. But there’s no more time in the day. Which implies that people need to spend less time doing the things that you could do in 1959. Sometimes we can get out of this box by finding technological innovations that let us do things more quickly, but you can’t really speed up cooking from scratch.

The good news is that there’s no real reason to think that food you prepare yourself is for some reason intrinsically healthier than food someone else prepares for you.

Eh.  I’m not convinced.  Ta-Nehisi Coates has a good story about what he learned when he first baked blueberry muffins.  Baking treats yourself ensures you know what goes into them.

To that I’d add a couple of points.  Portion size is much easier to control when you cook your own food, as is the addition of salt, spices, and fats.  It also strikes me as unlikely that the best organic hippie-dippie free-range pre-packaged food imaginable will be free of stabilizers and preservatives.  While I don’t want to return to 1959 (though I think the argument that we have less time is somewhat undercut by the idea that blogging and Netflix are these new things we do), I think there’s no way around the idea that home cooking is better for you, especially if you’re in an area where your take-out options are limited to unhealthy fast food.

It’s not a metaphysical certainty, but I know which way I’d bet, and it’s not on Auguste Gusteau’s Frozen Dinners becoming common (or, for that matter, affordable.)

I think the problem here is conceptual.  (Shut up, Neddy.)  Says Yglesias, “I like to cook. Sometimes. I think it’s fun. And I’m certainly glad I know a few recipes. I hope to learn more. And everyone should know a few, ”  but there’s a difference between recipes and techniques, and its the latter that gets the cook through every day.

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Milk! 5 left at $69.99!

The reviews are priceless.

Saving the cheerleader is neither necessary nor sufficient for saving the world.

(Yes, I know I’m three  years behind on television, but it needs to be said.)

Actually, do neither of those things.

Vote by September 7th, and vote only once….. for me!

Here’s the deal. 3quarksdaily is running a contest for the best philosophy post in 2009.   Eric kindly nominated my SpinozaLeibniz meeting series from last November.

The contest works like this: first, the Internet gets to vote for their top 20 favorites, and then philosopher Daniel Dennett gets to pick three winners.

So, if you’d like to vote for me, go here.   Since you can only vote once, and my series is split up into three entries, I ask that if you’re voting for me, vote for the first post (and maybe we can ask them nicely to read the other two, if it makes it to the next round.)

It is shameless to post, but it’s the only way I will get Ari to vote for me.

Plus, I think if I win, I can probably convince Eric to let me pimp the blog.  Maybe with little racing flames or a giant squid in the banner or something.

Seriously, check it out.

Via seth.

This is officially an award-winning blog

HNN, Best group blog: "Witty and insightful, the Edge of the American West puts the group in group blog, with frequent contributions from an irreverent band.... Always entertaining, often enlightening, the blog features snazzy visuals—graphs, photos, videos—and zippy writing...."