Rachael Ray, Blue Apron and Michael Pollan all tried in their own ways. But Covid-19 has done what none of them could do.

At a scale not seen in over 50 years, America is cooking, a healthy move in the middle of a pandemic.

Yes, we are using restaurant delivery services more and demand for packaged goods has skyrocketed. Even sales of the unpalatable Hamburger Helper are up. But the frequency and consistency of cooking presents a tremendous public health opportunity.

In one recent survey, 54 percent of respondents said they cook more than before the pandemic, 75 percent said they have become more confident in the kitchen and 51 percent said they will continue to cook more after the crisis ends. Interest in online cooking tutorials, recipe websites and food blogs has surged. Dozens of recipe writers and cookbook authors such as Alison RomanJet Tila, and Julia Turshen are frenetically posting ideas and answering questions on Twitter and Instagram.

“I feel like this virus is a conspiracy to make me learn how to cook,” Eliza Bayne, a television producer tweeted.

“I visited my kitchen on occasion prior to corona,” Kedene McDowell, a graduate student at New York University said, “now I am one with my kitchen.”

Young adults are FaceTiming parents to get tips in the kitchen, and even the self-declared cooking inept are now making oatmeal, at least.

Nearly everyone is making an effort. Cookbooks are rarely among the top-selling books on Amazon. Yet this week, “Magnolia Table, A Collection of Recipes for Gathering” by Joanna Gaines is No. 2. The search term “online cooking classes” saw a fivefold increase on Google over the past four weeks, and the search title “cook with me” saw a 100 percent increase in average daily views on YouTube in the second half of March.

This surge in cooking is meaningful, as people who frequently cook meals at home eat more healthfully and consume fewer calories than those who cook less, according to multiple studies.

 

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