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Hidden threat of ready meals: what you need to know about convenience foods

Фото: Depositphotos

In total 50 years ago, many married American women, even those who received an excellent education, spent most of their time at homework. All this is known thanks to numerous public opinion polls conducted at that time.

Over the past half century, the lives of educated women in developed countries have changed radically, writes with the BBC.

Now women in the US spend on cooking and cleaning only about 45 minutes a day. It's still more than men (15 minutes a day), but in general the difference with 4 hours, which the woman spent every day at home in 1960, is radical.

The invention of semi-finished products is behind these changes. We owe their appearance to a bacteriologist named Betty Cronin, who in 1954 figured out how to make all the ingredients of a dish require the same cooking time. Turkey, potatoes, vegetables and sauce were put in one aluminum box - everything was cooked together.

Betty worked at a food factory.

During the war years, its products were sent to the front, and after it ended, it was necessary to invent something to replace the exhausted military contracts.

Of course, semi-finished products were only a small part of the fundamental changes that cooking has undergone. Widespread freezers, microwave ovens, the use of preservatives and conveyor production of food played a huge role.

Food was the last stronghold of handicrafts: most of it was prepared at home.

But this bastion fell. Cooking was put on stream. The functions of a home cook more and more moved to restaurants and food factories that produce ready-made meals and convenience foods.

And the emergence of industrially produced food led to tectonic shifts in the modern economy.

American families gradually began to spend more and more money on food outside the home: in fast food chains, in ordinary restaurants, it is more common to buy ready-made sandwiches and snacks. In 1960, only a quarter of all the money spent on food was spent outside the home.

By 2015, Americans “crossed the Rubicon”: US residents began to spend more on food outside the home than in grocery stores.

But even at home we increasingly prefer at least partially processed foods, saving our own time: we buy sliced ​​and mixed lettuce leaves, grated cheese, cans with ready-made sauces, drink tea from sachets, prefer already rolled meatballs, gutted and plucked chickens.

All these innovations are a rather curious modern phenomenon.

Economist Valerie Rumney looked at statistics between 1920 and 1960 and found that little has changed over that time frame - in terms of the time it takes to prepare food.

All these 5 decades, women - regardless of educational level, whether they were married to farmers or lawyers - still spent the same time on housework. It was only in the 1960s that the situation began to change, and women began to spend much less time cooking.

However, ready meals have one very unpleasant side effect.

From the 1970s to 2010, the number of obese people in developed countries grew roughly in proportion to the amount of ready-to-eat food available - and this, experts say, is by no means a coincidence.

The cost of calories has dropped significantly over the past decades, both in terms of money and in terms of time spent.

As an example, take the usual potatoes. Americans consume potatoes for several centuries, but until the Second World War it was mainly cooked, mashed or baked. And it was clear: in order to cook the fried potatoes, it was necessary to peel first, then chop finely, and only then fry.

Now everything has become much easier. Potatoes are cut into small straws, fried and packed in factories, and at home or at a fast food restaurant, it remains only to heat or dip them in boiling oil.

Between 1977 and 1995 over the years, potato consumption in the United States has increased by a third, and this is solely due to fried potatoes.

You can make it even easier: potato chips are fried, salted, flavored, and packed in crispy bags that can be stored on store shelves for months.

At the same time, in the United States, over the same period of time, the number of calories consumed by the population increased by 10%. And not at all due to the fact that the citizens of the country switched to more high-calorie foods, but because the people became addicted to eating between main meals - of course, using industrially prepared food.

The behavioral psychologists say that the longer and more carefully we plan our meals, the more varied and healthy our meals will be. Whereas the sudden impulse to snack leads to the rapid and uncontrolled consumption of “unhealthy” calories.

The industrialization of food has changed our economy in two important ways: it freed women from the need to stand for long hours at the stove, thereby giving them access to a more serious professional career, but at the same time it also removed the barriers to the available “harmful” calories, which significantly increased the volume our waist.

As with many other inventions, the problem is how to use all the opportunities at the same time without paying too much for it.

Read also on ForumDaily:

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How do US restaurants distort the concept of “healthy food”

Seven reasons why overweight Americans are getting bigger

Employees of fast food told what you should not order in their restaurants

Miscellaneous healthy food Educational program
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