from the world's big
The surprising benefits of cooking as a life skill
There's few domains in life that aren't improved by learning how to cook.
- It's easy to outsource our cooking to professionals, but in so doing, we lose a fundamental skill, control over our nutrition, and an exercise that promotes out physical and mental health.
- Even if you've never cooked anything beyond grilled cheese, improving your cooking skills can seriously improve your quality of life.
- Learn about the benefits of learning to cook as well as some resources to help you along the way.
Few things are as difficult to categorize as cooking. What else can be called a skill, an art form, a science, and a survival tool at the same time? It's an activity that brings people together over the dinner table, but the act of cooking can also be a very private experience. It's a human adaptation, a clever trick that evolution gradually baked into our brains to conjure up more calories out of raw food to power the large brains that could, with any luck, come up with more clever tricks. It's something so fundamental that everyone knows how to do it to some degree, but only a few can master the practice after years of training. It's a life skill that can save you money, improve your mental and physical health, and attract the envy of your peers all at once. Here's why.
Cooking can save you money
When we look at the physiological changes that occurred to our ancestors, such as changes in their molar and body sizes, it seems as though human beings began cooking food about 1.9 million years ago. That's quite a long and storied history just for us to heat up Cup Noodles for every third meal.
Aside from not letting the cumulative knowledge of our ancestors go to waste, one of the major reasons to learn to cook is financial. According to a Pricenomics study, ordering delivery costs an average of $20.37. In comparison, making a home-cooked meal costs just $4.31. That's more than five times as expensive.
Despite this common knowledge, however, Americans still spend a significant chunk of change on food prepared outside the home. In 2017, Americans spent $3,365 a year on food prepared away from home. When you consider that only 39% of Americans have $1,000 or more in savings, this in and of itself is a pretty compelling reason to start cooking more. Of course, not everybody needs to worry about their finances. Some people have the money to spend, but there are still plenty of reasons to learn to cook aside from the financial one.
Eating out puts your health in jeopardy
It's no secret that cooking at home is healthier than eating out. Those delicious, professionally prepared meals really only taste so good because they're loaded with butter and salt.
One study examining chain restaurants in Philadelphia found that the average meal (defined as an entrée, side dish, and a small appetizer) contained nearly 1,500 calories. What's more, these meals contained 28 grams of saturated fat and 3,512 milligrams of sodium. Adults are only meant to consume at most 13 grams of saturated fat per day and 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Not only does eating out offer sub-par nutrition, but it also doubles your chances of catching a food-borne illness.
Meanwhile, a systematic review of 28 research studies found that adults who cooked at home had more energy, consumed less sodium, ate more fruits and vegetables, and consumed more fiber. As you might expect, improving your diet in this way is good for your health. Research has shown that close to half of all cardiometabolic deaths (e.g., heart disease, diabetes) are attributable to poor diets, and 20% of all deaths worldwide are linked to poor diets, which even beats smoking as a mortality risk.
Cooking's many psychosocial benefits
Cooking is both a biological necessity and a behavioral script that's been hardwired into our brains over the course of nearly two million years. As an example, a systematic review of the impact of cooking interventions on mental health found a number of positive outcomes. Study participants who engaged in baking sessions developed better self-esteem as a result of their improved concentration, coordination, and confidence. The participants also reported that one of the most satisfying aspects of the baking process was being able to produce a product that they could give away to others. The other studies in the review showed similar results; cooking raised self-esteem.
Cooking also improved positive affect — a term psychologists use to refer to the experience of emotion — and reduced negative affect. In addition, the review found that cooking improved overall well-being and health-related quality of life, primarily due to the nutritional benefits that cooking provides. Good nutrition and mental health are intimately related, so this finding should come as no surprise.
One of the intimidating things about learning to cook is that it requires an awful lot of skill, assuming you want to eat something tasty as well as healthy and cheap. Here's some resources that can help bring your cooking game to the next level.
1. The Joy of Cooking
The Joy of Cooking is arguably the classic cookbook. It's been in print since 1936 and has sold over 18 million copies for good reason. Though it's gone through many iterations over the years, it was first crafted at the very beginning of the Great Depression by Irma Rombauer, and its recipes are commensurately designed to encourage healthy, tasty, and cheap eating. That being said, make sure to do some research on which edition is the right one for you as it has changed considerably over its long history. If you'd rather not do the research, odds are you'll do just fine by borrowing whichever edition your parents used, and you'll likely gain some sense memories of childhood meals to boot.
2. The Essentials of Cooking
While there's no shame in following recipes line by line, it's a slow way to become a better cook. The Essentials of Cooking focuses on the basic techniques of cooking instead, providing readers with a cooking skillset to improvise and craft their own meals.
3. Mastering the Art of French Cooking
French cuisine is stereotyped as refined for good reason, although it is perhaps a bit buttery. Mastering the Art of French Cooking is a classic cookbook crafted by the quintessential celebrity chef, Julia Child and two other chefs who studied at Le Cordon Bleu. For those of you who want to craft those special dishes a step above your daily dinner, this is the book for you.
There is a slew of quality cookbooks out there, so don't feel as though you must acquire one of these three. Some may be more interested in books focusing on vegetarian dishes or books that focus on the basics exclusively. If it feels like there's just too much information out there, don't get discouraged. Just experimenting with what you have in your kitchen or working out a recipe you found online is the best way to get started honing your cooking skills.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.