Lately when I talk to chefs and home cooks about the type of food they want to make, I keep hearing the words “like my grandma used to make.” It’s become shorthand for all-natural, healthy food with honest flavor, created using painstakingly slow processes.
I’m totally on board, except for that last part, about the analog attitude. There’s so much technology that can vastly improve the taste and flavor of your food, so that it’s like what your grandma used to make, but even better.
Take a device like the pressure cooker. “A pressure cooker can produce exceptionally tender results while maximizing the flavor extracted from the ingredients,” writes molecular gastronomy guru Heston Blumenthal in the foreword to the Fast Slow Pro brand manual. Sure, you could spend more than 12 hours making chicken stock — or you could get even richer flavors in 1 hour with a pressure cooker, especially one with a screen that gives you instructions and tells you when everything is finished cooking. I recently started using one and have been astounded at the flavor of the foods I make in it: creamy roasted potatoes, intense stock, tender octopus, you name it. Grandma may not have cooked this way, but her recipes would have been even better if she had.
There’s another reason the analog logic doesn’t quite make sense: Grandma (or maybe great-grandma) used to grow her own tomatoes or buy them from a farmstand down the street. Now we go to a megagrocery store to get those tomatoes. “Our food system is not designed for taste and flavor. It’s designed for travel,” said Jennifer Broutin Farah, the CEO of SproutsIO, at the recent Smart Home Summit (watch the video below). That means the food we eat tastes more like cardboard than carrots, cucumbers, or kale. No wonder no one wants to eat their vegetables.
SproutsIO’s connected system makes it easy for everyone (black thumbs included) to grow their own produce at home: The device helps you grow vegetables and fruit from seeds in its modular system, and its smartphone app gives you real-time data about how it’s going. Plus it learns from you to help you grow better. The idea is that if those vegetables and fruits were easy to grow and tasted better, everyone would want to eat them, improving their overall health.
And it’s only one of many kitchen gadgets and products designed to improve your experiences with food, whether that’s growing, cooking, or eating it, to change our diabetes- and obesity-laden country into a healthier one. After all, as Farah said, “small-scale solutions that have high leverage can create great impact.”