Why is the standard unit for eating the household? We have institutions that provide food to its inmates. Sadly, the government just blocked a proposed law to provide breakfast and lunch for those who go to schools serving the poorest fifth of New Zealand children. This is despite the OECD having advised that more redistribution of income would be good for the overall economy.
The primary concerns of maximising our time and our health are at a trade-off. We can optimise this by reducing the time we spend on preparing food. If you are rich, you can employ people to provide you food. (And we can all indulge in this luxury for one meal when we go to a restaurant). But is there a community-wide way to reduce time in food preparation while improving the nutrition, and hence the health of the population? If so, this would save all of us money, by reducing the burden of disease that we all pay for through our national health system.
Community kitchens provide food as a safety net to the homeless. One reason for eating at home, is its convenience. But if food could be provided as cheaply, as tasty, and also more healthy – eating in a communal setting would meet many needs; especially for those with the least resources of both time and health.
Mass food production is usually with food that has had its nutrients processed out and additives to enhance taste or shelf life. While this has provided cheap and tasty food, the adverse health consequences are increasing important as diet-related diseases account for large and increasing public health costs. The other key aspect here, is that the food industry is such a massive enterprise. Perhaps, the most powerful lobby in the US.
Can we change from food industry to food for health? Can we develop communal eating options that can meet the needs of most people? Perhaps the real question is why don’t we?