It’s pretty normal to let machines do our washing and dishes, let other people farm/grow our food, make our clothes, fix our cars and mow our lawn. It’s even increasingly normal to have a cleaner come around and clean our homes. Technology has advanced and times have changed. Rather than do all our household chores ourselves, we choose to spend more time specializing in what we’re good at (usually our job) and what we enjoy at the opportunity cost of paying for others (or machines) to do our chores. From an economic perspective, it’s also much more efficient and productive to leave the farming and textiles to the experts.
So why doesn’t the same principle apply to cooking dinner?
Logically, ordering take-away and delivered meals is just paying someone else to do the cooking while we use our time to work or do something else we enjoy, right? Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be quite reality… YET. But why not? Why does society still frown upon take-away and delivered meals beyond the occasional treat? Not to say it isn’t popular, but it’s a bit naughty isn’t it?
It can get a little expensive (sometimes it’s cheaper!), but cost aside, take-away food is generally quite unhealthy compared to the foods we would cook at home. In fact, in public health speak, some of the “barriers to healthy eating” include a lack of time for cooking and lack of cooking skills, which are associated with higher rates of take-away food consumption.
So are we going to start making more time to cook? Start watching more Jamie Oliver clips? Perhaps we should start leaving work earlier, or get a job closer to home so we have less commute time. Maybe one partner should work part-time only and house keep. That worked so well in the 50’s! It’s what’s best… you know… for our cardiovascular health.
The economics of the situation have been frustrating me for some time now, particularly since analyzing the local ‘Food system’ in Wyndham (Melbourne). Take-away and delivered foods certainly are convenient. If only they could just be healthy too, then we wouldn’t feel so guilty about eating it, and health promotion projects wouldn’t need to fight against economic and market forces to keep people healthy.
One day a couple of weeks ago Tom and I decided to try out home delivery from new local business Sprig, who provide simple, homestyle meals for relatively little cost and with a ridiculously fast delivery time (<10 minutes!). They don’t directly market themselves as healthy, so I didn’t give it much thought, and it was only as I crunched into my piece of broccoli (that’s right- crunched!) and noted it’s lack of butter and salt, that I realized that our meals were probably moderately healthy. We originally intended on ordering from Spoonrocket who provide a similar service, but their website was down at precisely the wrong moment. Their food looks fresh and healthy too. We had discovered healthy take-away!
To our knowledge there’s nothing like this operating in Melbourne yet. SF is after all a start-up kind of city, so it’s no surprise these types of businesses are popping up to fill a gap in market and meet a demand for healthy delivered meals. I do hope they catch on though!
I hope they can challenge perceptions that people want deep fried, oily and unhealthy foods when they order home delivery. I hope they shake things up a little and show other take-away/delivery businesses that there IS a place for crunchy vegetables in home delivered meals. Start a trend. All that jazz.
Ironically – I wrote some of this blog post while waiting for a Sprig order to arrive. I guess I could’ve been cooking, but I was typing this post instead.