Cookery programs are increasingly playing a major role in our life. They have risen dramatically in the last decade presenting a wide variety of cooking recipes, new products and other experiences.
The effect of food marketing on people’s food choices, with the rise of fast food companies, less cooked food and less time in the kitchen, are some of the factors that are consistent with the ongoing debate that cookery programs play a significant role in Food Security.
Food in Media:
Food has been presented as a new face in popular culture. Cookery programs become a major tool in shaping the food culture of communities. Currently, 100 million Americans watch Food Network with more than 1 million viewers each night. Cooking shows play a major role in reaching out to the community via all media platforms with an involvement in every aspect of the audience’s lives. Michael Pollan in his article “Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch” in the New York Times mentioned that chefs in these shows present a specific problem in a community, like obesity, and try to teach people how to cook. It became much easier for people to watch cooking rather than practicing it in the kitchen because of the rise of fast food industry and decline of cooking culture, which deprived people to learn from cooking shows, consuming food rather than producing or cooking it. On the other hand, James Ramsden’s article on the influence of TV cookery programs on the way we cook argued that cooking shows inspire people to spend time in the kitchen more.
James Beard is considered to be the pioneer of cooking T.V. shows in U.S. in 1946. After that Swanson presented the first dinner for Americans as consumers in 1954. One of the key T.V programs was “The French Chef” by Julia Child, which changed American perceptions about French food. The rise of the Food Network in the late 1990s has created celebrities from chefs changing people’s mindset to be entertained by watching the cooking experience.
According to Peter Jackson’s book “Food Words”, cookery programs have contributed to enriching the social and cultural life of people. Social change has been made indirectly through these shows as they present food from other cultures and its relation with music, art or socializing, raising awareness of food safety measures, presenting new ingredients, and responding to the audience requests. Moreover, cooking programs have presented a way of bringing the family together to enjoy a meal; presenting easy steps for partners to please each other with new gourmet or to learn how to cook.
Advantages of Cooking Shows:
Cooking shows provide local recipes, ingredients, demonstrate certain ways of preparing and preserving food for the community which can strengthen the traditional food system. This leads to supporting local farmers and retailers which has a positive impact on the economy, as Dorothy Ferrel mentioned in his article “Local foods vital in the fight for sustainability“. It creates a sense of community independence politically and economically. Furthermore, it has minimal environmental impact.
In order to understand how cooking shows are linked to other experiences, the formal linguistic framework of Labov in his book “Languages in the Inner City: Studies in the Black English Vernacular” concluded that there are 6 parts of the narrative to be delivered: the abstract summarizing the whole experience, orientation, further actions for excitement, story resolution, evaluation telling why the narrative is extraordinary, and Coda, which link the story to applications in the real world. Cooking shows depend on telling at least Three of these parts depending on the social and cultural context of a community in order to increase the engagement. The storytelling in cooking shows engages the audiences and connects them to the program or to the host. They usually present the cooking experience with form of competition; story; lifestyle; travelling; or advising the audience on healthier cooking practices.
Cooking shows are accessible and can reach out to people more than any other way. Translated cookery programs from other countries help viewers to increase their understanding of different cultures through different cooking methods.
An example would be Jamie Oliver’s Kitchen show and his show is translated to other languages and people watch it from all over the world including developing countries.
Disadvantages of Cooking Shows:
One of the challenges facing Food Security is the collapse of farm livelihoods. Some of the hungriest people in the world are actually farmers who don’t get any kind of support while the big food companies who dominate the market increasingly get all the credit. Cooking shows are used as marketing tools for these companies because most of these programs are funded by them.
They often present recipes that are not culturally appropriate or not accessible for example because of expensive ingredients.
Other factors include watching T.V. reduces physical activity, while food advertisements for nutrient-poor, high-calorie items which stimulate food intake; as well as eating unconsciously which contributes to obesity. Cooking shows have a food porn effect.
“When we imagine cooking and eating while watching other people actually doing it”.
In addition, people are unlikely to cook what is presented and they are just amused by the shows.
Cooking shows are considered a pop culture movement that has risen in the last 20 years, driving people’s choices in securing their dietary needs. They have an influential role in affecting our eating behaviors and changing the food system within communities. Food is not like any other single commodity as it plays a major role in people’s life. Cooking shows may bridge the gap between production and consumption by introducing what is local and introducing new cultures, but they became pure entertainment with no educational message to deliver. They have been used as marketing tools for big companies, who contribute to pushing more farmers into food poverty and forcing them to leave the agricultural sector. Mostly, they present inaccessible expensive ingredients and promote certain products that mislead people on healthy food.