Only 10 percent of Americans love to cook, survey says

The number of people who enjoy cooking has fallen by one-third in just a decade and a half.

  • Wednesday, August 1, 2018 1:30am
  • Life

Are we a country that no longer cooks?

A story in the Harvard Business Review — published last year, but only getting notice now — revealed that only 10 percent of Americans love to cook. Forty-five percent absolutely hate it, while another 45 percent are indifferent.

The story’s author, Eddie Yoon, conducted a similar survey just 15 years ago, and more of us were interested in cooking then. Fifteen percent then said they loved it. This means that the number of people who love to cook has fallen by one-third in just a decade and a half.

Some of those who used to cook are, sadly, no longer with us. In 15 years, the demographics will shift; it is the way of the world. The younger generations who are coming up are less inclined to cook than were their parents. If nothing else, that means they are also spending more money on food.

An unnamed 21-year-old unintentionally — but hilariously — made this point recently on a website called refinery29. She kept careful track of her finances and everything she did for one week.

This young woman, a college student, has a summer job as marketing intern in human resources, lives in New York and makes pretty good money for doing what appears to be almost no work at all. She is also financially supported by her parents and her grandfather.

In the week in question, she spent more than $266 on food. For one person. In one week. And that does not include the five meals that were paid for her by others.

Most of this money went to restaurants, everything from pizza and sushi to bagels and frozen yogurt. And coffee. And two different salads. And a veggie burger.

The veggie burger, along with a side of sweet potato fries, cost almost $20, or it would have if she had not received a $12 discount for having an app on her phone. She also got a goat-cheese and avocado wrap lunch from a health-food restaurant for $23.

The sushi dinner, incidentally, was $45. But at least she said she was “in shock” at the price.

Looking at her choice of food for the week, two facts are abundantly clear. She prefers to eat foods that are healthful, or are at least reputed to be, and she is willing to spend very good money for it.

According to the experts, she is far from alone.

Celebrity chef Robert Irvine was at the recent Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, where he was interviewed by Foodable TV. He said millennials and those in Gen Z “are controlling how we eat right now.”

They want food quickly, they want it to be healthful and they want to know where it comes from, he said.

The food industry is responding with products that are increasingly plant-based and specifically sourced, with different flavors attributed to different locations.

On store shelves you can now see “olive oil from France or Germany or Italy or Spain or Greece. You pick which one you want,” he said.

The many new food products would indicate that some in the younger generations are still interested in cooking. However, he said their true interest is in restaurants.

“A millennial and a Gen Z and a Gen X will all pay more money to go to a restaurant that is busy and can be seen, even if they have to use a credit card and go into debt to do it,” he said.

Not only do they want to be seen, they want to preserve the moment. So they take a picture of their food, as a way of saying “By the way, I’m here and you’re not.”

Friends see the postings of the food, and then everyone wants to go to that restaurant. It’s one way social media is driving the marketing of restaurants, hotels and food products.

Irvine believes our interest in getting fed quickly will lead to ever-faster dining experiences. The explosion in fast-casual restaurants proves that, he said, and then he broke my heart: “We got rid of fine dining. There are still a few out there, but fine dining doesn’t happen anymore.”

Very much in contrast, he said that at some point in the future he expects us to simply push a button on a machine and receive well-made delicious food.

In my mind, I picture an automat, but with better food. Still, it isn’t fine dining. It isn’t even cooking.

Daniel Neman writes for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Talk to us

More in Life

After 43 years, Robb Hunt is retiring as Village Theatre's executive producer. (Village Theatre)
The Village Theatre’s Robb Hunt to retire after 43 years

He brought the Issaquah-based theater’s award-winning productions to Everett in 1994.

"Washington Farm," ca. 1934 Oil on canvas, 27 1/2 × 33 1/2 in. Collection of Lindsey and Carolyn Echelbarger, promised gift to Cascadia Art Museum
Edmonds museum spotlights Japanese-American artist’s journey

Kenjiro Nomura’s art ranges from pre-war impressions to post-war abstractions — and images from inside WWII internment camps.

Anya Taylor-Joy, left, and Thomasin McKenzie in "Last Night in Soho." MUST CREDIT: Parisa Taghizadeh/Focus Features
‘Last Night in Soho’ a stylish, blood-soaked ode to ‘60s London

Director Edgar Wright peppers the cast with icons of the era, including Terence Stamp and the late Diana Rigg in her last film role.

Gene Simmons impersonator, Jack Murrin practices on there bass guitar at his storage building on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 in Everett, Washington. Murrin, 51, a firefighter and impersonator, is putting on a 2-hour KISS concert with 19 songs in front of his north Everett home on Halloween.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
The Demon: Gene Simmons imitator hosts a free Kiss concert

Everett firefighter and paramedic Jack Murrin will return to the stage for a Halloween show at his home.

xyxyxyyxyxyxyxyxy
Simple recipes for gluten-free baked goods — even bread — yes, really

“Cannelle et Vanille” blogger Aran Goyoaga has written a cookbook of straightfoward bakes without gluten.

A.J. Croce, son of the late Jim Croce, is scheduled to perform Nov. 20 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.
All about music: Schedule of concerts around Snohomish County

The listings include Sir Mix-a-Lot, ZZ Top and Bands, Brews and Bowling at Evergreen Lanes in Everett.

The Jimmy Wright Band is scheduled to play a Halloween Party on Oct. 30 at Pub 282 on Camano Island. (YouTube)
Where to hear live music in Snohomish County nightclubs

The listings include Engel’s Pub, Mirkwood Public House and Port Gardner Bay Winery shows.

Peter Rivera, the original lead singer and drummer for Rare Earth, will perform Nov. 6 with his band at the Historic Everett Theatre. (Peter Rivera)
Tickets for sale in Snohomish County and around the region

The listings include Historic Everett Theatre, Edmonds Center for the Arts and Thumbnail Theater shows.

See Dawn Cornell as Judge Laura Wargrave and Bill Kusler as Gen. John Mackenzie in Red Curtain's production of "And Then There Were None," showing at the Marysville theater through Nov. 3. (Larry T. Lisk)
Theater, dance and comedy shows around Snohomish County

The listings include Historic Everett Theatre, Edmonds Center for the Arts and Thumbnail Theater shows.

Most Read