The Apron Project: Let's Reclaim the Kitchen, and Our Global Food System
Thank you, Michael Pollan, for coming out with a brilliant new book (Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation) that is perfectly aligned with the mission of my new company, the Apron Project: Get in the kitchen and change the world.
In a similar line of thinking, following food from field to market to table, Pollan has arrived at the conclusion that the only way we can really regain power over our food choices, is to cook.
Today, there are close to 900 million people hungry along with over 1.5 billion who are overweight, which clearly means that something is going wrong with the way we grow and consume food. According to one of the food experts profiled in Pollan’s book, Harry Balzar, back in 1984 American’s “made 72 percent of our dinners from scratch, but by 2008 that number dropped to 57 percent.”
Consistent with the 30 year changes that I have observed in my work on the 30 Project and now Food Tank, the less we have cooked, the heavier and less healthy we have become. In the last thirty years, we have moved away from the stove and into the drive-thru lane, as our spending on fast food has grown from $6 billion in 1970 to over $110 billion today. The connection between our outsourcing of cooking and food to massive industrial systems and the continued hunger and malnutrition around the world is also telling, as the real costs of our cheap food supply are felt elsewhere.
But, we can all change the world every single day—from our kitchen. By buying ingredients that we can trace and understand and cooking them ourselves, we have the power to control what we eat and how our food dollars impact the planet. Gathering people in our homes and sitting down to dinner should not be a rare event, and learning how to cook delicious food should be something we do, not something we watch on TV. The Apron Project is just one little tool to encourage you to dream up the recipe for how you will have an impact.
Our first line of Aprons is produced in partnership with our friends at Indego Africa, a design-driven nonprofit social enterprise that lifts women-owned businesses in Rwanda toward sustainable economic independence. Indego partners with more than 400 women artisans who run nine for-profit cooperatives. The women who work with Indego are able to earn enough to keep their families free from hunger, in an adequate home and to send their kids in school.
Although the apron has been an iconic symbol of a pre-feminist world where women were tied to the stove with few other options, we are redefining the apron to be a symbol of empowerment and regaining control of the very food system that has made us fatter and sicker in the past few decades. The most powerful thing we can do is to nourish ourselves and families, well. People old and young (kids aprons, coming soon!) are reclaiming the kitchen, experimenting with new foods and tastes, and having a positive impact on the food system in their communities and beyond. We encourage you to get your hands dirty—just not your clothes.
Cooking has become an act of social change. Get one of our Aprons, get in the kitchen and change the world.