'Slate' Criticizes the 'Home-Cooked Family Dinner': Joel Salatin Responds


Victimhood escalates to stratospheric whining with Amanda Marcotte's recent Slate post titled Let's Stop Idealizing the Home-Cooked Family Dinner.

Joel SalatinThe piece concluded more often than not family members (especially the male ones) were ingrates and, generally, home-cooked meals were too stressful, expensive, time-consuming, and utensil-dependent to be worthy of the trouble.

Marcotte's indictment of what she considers a romanticized cultural icon certainly speaks volumes about where our cultural mainstream food values reside. Indeed, the average American is probably far more interested and knowledgeable about the latest belly-button piercing in Hollywood celebrity culture than what will become flesh of their flesh and bone of their bone at 6 p.m.

In the circles I run in and market to, the home-cooked meal is revered as the ultimate expression of food integrity. The home-cooked meal indicates a reverence for our bodies' fuel, a respect for biology, and a committed remedial spirit toward all the shenanigans in our industrial, pathogen-laden, nutrient-deficient food-and-farming system.

I would imagine most of the ungrateful males in these families watch TV or see a lot of food ads on their computers. You won't find integrity food advertised on TV or pop-culture web sites. It'll be a steady brainwash of junk food, convenience, highly processed food-like materials. That we can physically chew and swallow the stuff does not make it desirable for our bodies.

Further, since when are women the only ones who are supposed to shoulder the burden for integrity food? Why doesn't Marcotte, rather than whining about unappreciated women, write instead about families who seem to think sports leagues and biggest-screen TVs are more important than health? Who think pharmaceutical companies are responsible for wellness?  Who think no difference exists between factory chickens and pastured chickens?

3/5/2015 10:18:19 AM

I wanted to add what I believe to be a contributing factor. I am under the impression that one reason dinners may be stressful is due to the unfairly high standards that have been created as a recent phenomenon of the celebrity chef and constant access to highly palatable restaurant and fast food meals. If families are expected to recreate the dinners they eat in restaurants dedicated to feeding clients, they will fail. With kids so used to eating salty, fatty, spiced, dehydrated, crunchy, foods of course they will complain about anything "Mom" makes. That's why I'm an advocate for SIMPLE food. If kids were raised on simple foods then this problem would be resolved. Boiled potatoes, boiled chicken, and steamed broccoli with salt, pepper, and butter at the table. I would argue that this style of eating is healthier, cheaper, more efficient, more satiating, easier to clean up, and much faster to prepare.

9/16/2014 11:03:06 AM

"Great Grandma ... had to fetch water from the spring, split stove wood, start a fire and churn the butter and she still managed to feed a large family very well." Yeah, she was quite a gal. She made her own dresses from flour sacks and grabbed a gun and stood side by side with the men to protect her family from marauding Indians. Too bad she died of cholera before women got the vote. But why drag her into this pile of manure? Getting every family to cook its own meals is on the whole a huge and despicable waste of time and resources and needs to be changed. New ideas are needed, not the rehashing of old and impossible ones. Calling Amanda Marcotte's essay "stratospheric whining" is a cheap shot. Read her essay yourself and make up your own mind. It's far from perfect, but her points make a lot of sense.

9/15/2014 11:25:07 PM

This is my first time posting here although I've been reading for a while now. I am actually a long-time reader of Slate. I read this particular article when it first came out. I think what Marcotte was trying to say (albeit very badly) is that cooking meals from scratch at home isn't as easy as some folks make it out to be nor is it a cure-all for everything that ails the world. I could relate to some of her stories. For example I'm a newly divorced single mother of a 7 yo girl. It is extremely difficult to work a full-time job, come home, cook from scratch a healthy meal, eat dinner, help with homework, clean the kitchen, then tuck the monkey into bed in the space of 2 hours. And given that her father and his mother are from-the-box type of people it is hard to convince the monkey that real food is better. Before the divorce I also had her father complaining about the food because it wasn't from a box and loaded with salt and fat. That being said I continue to do it because I think it's best for me and my kiddo. I have taught myself to do some prep ahead of time and the slow cooker is my best friend. Where there's a will there's a way. But many people don't know how to begin cooking or don't have resources like a functional kitchen. Actually this story makes me want to donate a bunch of slow cookers to some of those folks!

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