Over the last 7 years, SORTEDfood has grown from a chat amongst mates in a pub about how bad our diets were, to one of the largest cooking conversations on the internet with millions of people taking part on a daily basis... And yes, it's surprised us more than you could imagine!
Looking around us, it's incredible to see the journey that food has come on in the same period - more people than ever are watching tv programmes about food, watching and posting food online to places like Twitter and Instagram, upgrading their takeaways to fancy new restaurant delivery services, hosting and visiting pop ups, and generally caring more about what they put in their mouths.
But for all this interest in food, the number of people who are cooking it at home is falling in staggering amounts. In fact, research commissioned by Co-op shows that there's been a 54% decrease in home cooking in the last 30 years.
That's massive! When you look into why this has been decreasing so dramatically, you find that only 16% of people aged between 16-35 were taught to cook at school... Yes, 16%!
Just under half of those surveyed said they relied on their parents to teach them how to cook - but with mandatory cooking lessons taken off the school curriculum 20 years ago, we're now hitting a 2nd generation of young adults who were never taught how to cook, and the problem is snowballing.
Now, I know what you're thinking... with all the advances in convenience and technology, do people really need to learn how to cook?
It's true - there are billion dollar industries setup so that we don't have to cook anymore... And don't get me wrong, we're not saying they don't have a place in our society moving forwards, but the long term impact they're having on people who are relying on them day in and day out is only now starting to show through. For example:
If you haven't cooked the food that you're eating, how do you know what's gone into it? Do you know how much sugar, butter, salt, sweeteners or chemicals are in your meal and what it's doing to your body? We know that obesity is at an all-time high across the world and isn't showing any signs of slowing down. Knowing how to cook enables you to take back control of what you're eating and therefore the effect it has on your body.
Let's be honest, no one can afford to eat at restaurants or get takeaways all the time, it's just unsustainable. At the other end of the scale, there are millions of people in the UK struggling to make ends meet every month. Without access to basic cooking skills, they're forced to pick the usually more expensive ready-meal options, which leads us back round to health issues again in an ironic vicious circle.
This might sound a bit soft, but it's easy to underestimate the power that food has in developing social skills... Only 17% of millennials say they cook for groups of 3 or more, which means that eating together is happening less and less. We believe these meals are actually key moments for families, couples and friends to put down their phones, develop relationships and spend time together in a world that is urging us to spend more time looking at screens rather than be with each other.
Food is such an important part of our lives, so why has cooking fallen off the agenda and become a hobby, something for people to take an interest in, rather than an essential life skill?
The people who do realise that they need to learn how to cook are having to rely on their parents' knowledge (if they have any!), or even worse - they're having to rely on 4 blokes on the internet who have, somewhat accidentally, built a global community around a cooking conversation and haven't previously geared themselves up to provide formal education around the subject.
It's time to do something about it and we believe we're in the right position to do it.
So we're teaming up with Co-op to get the UK talking about our country's cooking crisis, we want to meet those who are most affected and the people that are trying to make a difference in their communities and highlight their stories.
From this we can work out what the best way to tackle the issues are and see what we can do to help.
We'd love to hear your stories... Were you taught to cook? If so, how? If not, how does it affect your daily life? Do you see it as an issue?
Join in the conversation with us at sortedfood.com