The Lonestar State has the highest percentage of overweight adult males at 75.5%, only second to Alabama’s 75.9%. There are plenty of attempts to educate the population on how to eat — nutritional charts and dietary recommendations, for instance — but these are not solutions. The majority of us know that we need to consume more vegetables, but we are less compliant to do so because we don’t enjoy being told what to eat (maybe more so what NOT to eat). Our diet is really a personal relationship with food. We need personalized methods to improve our individual ways of eating. Instead of a massive health campaign telling people to eat healthier and exercise more, a more impacting solution would be to create a healthier environment that empowers people to learn and care for themselves. In other words: get cookin’. In particular, get young males like myself into kitchens to cook for our family and friends.
I got the idea from Coolio’s recent (and amazing) cookbook, Cookin’ with Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price. The former multi-platinum rapper grew up poor with little knowledge about food, stating that he had the skill of making something out of nothing. He learned how to cook, probably something unique amongst the male youth of his childhood community. What is cool about Cookin’ with Coolio, is that it empowers young men to build confidence, take control of their health, and potentially prevent obesity by learning how to successfully cook real food at home on a tight budget. By presenting his personal story as a living example, Coolio shares his recipes and cooking techniques so that people in lower-income situations can utilize their resources to become successful “Kitchen Pimps”. Taken at face value, this cookbook might seem like a comical sales gimmick, but Cookin’ with Coolio is a masterpiece for public health and could benefit thousands suffering from malnutrition and obesity.
How does Kitchen Pimpin’ prevent obesity?
Cookin’ with Coolio helped me realize that home cooking is more than a luxury; it is an approach to solving the obesity epidemic. There are many people that are too reliant on fake industrial foods, and “[Coolio] want[s] people to know that just because you’re poor, you don’t have to eat fast food every day.” Eating healthy food is more complicated when you are in a difficult economic situation. Some people insist that we need to eat only vegetables grown locally and spend a lot more for our food. Coolio argues that is not necessary for most: “Whole Foods and Gelson’s have a lot of great stuff, but [normal grocery stores] have everything you need to make haute cuisine at home.” Kitchen Pimpin’ and learning the art of “The Ghetto Gourmet” brings awareness to the more realistic problem and solution in our national obesity epidemic that people need to learn more about food and how to cook at home. Instead of focusing all of our attention on paying more for ethical foods (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), we should educate the population about food and create the environments and resources needed to get people cooking. Continue reading