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The new economy

(article, Culinate staff)

In a recent New York Times op-ed, the journalist Kirstin Wartman argued in favor of paying people to cook at home.

The logic? It's similar to paying for maternity or paternity leave, or subsidizing child care: that everyone would be happier and healthier if some of life's basics were a little less of a struggle. 

Of course, the devil is in the details; as some studies have noted, subsidies don't matter much if what's on offer is subpar, be it childcare or fresh food.

And then there's the gender-politics issue: Would paying people to cook at home just chain women to their kitchens? That's the issue behind a current German proposal to pay stay-at-home parents so they don't_ have to put their kids in daycare.

Not to mention the disjunct between paying people to cook from scratch and paying Big Ag to continue to produce processed junk. As the blog Bodycrimes noted,

bq. To get people cooking again, the trick is decent wages, job security and shorter hours, so that both fathers and mothers can be engaged with their families. An agricultural system slanted towards making high quality food available for everyone would be helpful too. And maybe bring back domestic science classes at school. With both boys and girls learning basic life skills.

Wartman's argument is similar: "To get Americans cooking, we need to make it possible. Stay-at-home parents should qualify for a new government program while they are raising young children — one that provides money for good food, as well as education on cooking, meal planning and shopping — so that one parent in a two-parent household, or a single parent, can afford to be home with the children and provide wholesome, healthy meals. 

"These payments could be financed by taxing harmful foods, like sugary beverages, highly caloric, processed snack foods and nutritionally poor options at fast food and other restaurants. Directly linking a tax on harmful food products to a program that benefits health would provide a clear rebuttal to critics of these taxes."