Is there a benefit to eating take-out food over a homecooked meal?
Most people would say certainly not. My own parents would agree that homecooked is always better, and cheaper, and it is in fact how they raised us. I can count on one hand the times we were invited to eat at a restaurant during my childhood. Usually, it was because someone else invited our family to eat there to celebrate some event. Beyond that…we ate at home. Always.
The word(s) “take-out” often comes with negative implications. To many people, it automatically means fast food. As in chain fast food. You know the culprits: McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Hell Bell, even Swiss Chalet. Sit-down restaurants like Kelsey’s or East Side Mario’s also provide take-out, and there are some who will argue that meals from these places should not be labeled fast food.
I beg to differ. Whether you order from Burger King or Milestones, somewhere deep inside the cavities of their kitchen exists a binder that specifically details the exact composition of each item of food listed on their menu, and how it is to be cooked. Because a Whopper in downtown Toronto will be made exactly the same way, and taste exactly the same, as a Whopper in urban Chicago, in smalltown Prairie province, or in suburbian Alaska.
The reality however is that people want good food quick. This does not have to mean hamburgers and french fries. Take-out food does not have to come from fast food joints, or chain restaurants. Depending on where you live, there are little mom-and-pop shops all over the neighbourhood that cater to the community’s appetite for nourishment.
Where we live, shops like that exists within walking distance of our little home, and many stay in business because people in the community support them. The little Polish deli just past the library makes great perogies and saussages or grilled chicken, cooked by the little old polish mama in the back of the store. The little Lebanese cafe just up the street serves fantastic lentil soup and falafal at a decent price. A Japanese family opened up a Sushi place just past the intersection, and they have great Teryaki and little tiny vegetarian Bento boxes for kids. Just yesterday, someone mentioned a new eatery that delivers organic wood stove cooked chicken for 10 bucks. You can take it home and eat it with a salad, or order a side like sweet-potato french fries, homemade cut and cooked inside the same wood stove. It was delicious.
Keeping such little places in business doesn’t mean you need to buy dinners every night. We don’t and we don’t want to. We happen to like cooking and we happen to want to know how exactly our meals are composed. I want to be able to control the amount of sugar, salt or fat I put into my meals.
But keeping such little places in business by purchasing their meals occasionally, be it for a get-together at your house, a Friday night meal when everyone is too tired to open the fridge, much less plan an entire nutritionally balanced meal, or just a quick lunch on a day of running around like a desperate housewife, will keep your community healthy. Because preventing another box store or chain food restaurant from opening in your neighbourhood not only feeds the trend these days, but keeps us diversified and happily full.
I can personally attest to this, and encourage all from trying out the new shop in town.