We are going to have to rethink things, won't we?
When I was a freelancer and I worked from home it wasn't so obvious to me why Americans are so unhealthy. Now it's tottally obvious. Cooking and the housekeeping the accompanies it takes time and when every adult member of the household works 40 hours a week, that becomes very difficult. It's even worse because most people don't particularly enjoy their jobs and would like to come home and do something they enjoy. Wouldn't it be great if everyone loved cooking? But it just doesn't work that way.
I don't have children and I struggle to cook every day. What's the point of all the productivity gains we've made if we all have to work the same amount of hours? When I first started working I once tallied up the percentage of my life that would be spent at work or commuting at the current rate and it was too depressing a calculation to repeat.
Housekeeping is very difficult when there is no one keeping house, when it's an afterthought in an exhausting day. Me? I'd love to work fewer hours and while I'd have to cut back on some things, I feel my quality of life would be higher. But there aren't many jobs available for 15 or even 30 hours a week and almost none provide any kind of benefits.
Perhaps we should just give up and acknowledge that the price of the American workforce is that few people have time to cook healthy meals. Then we need to focus on having better restaurants. Right now if you are eating out a lot, you are probably getting tons of vegetable oil. Even Thomas Keller, Michelin-Starred Chef, uses canola oil at his enourmously expensive restaurants.
Workplaces could also pick up some slack, but in an era of budget cuts, few will. You are lucky if your workplace has a microwave and even luckier if it has a fridge. I know a few highly-skilled technology workers at very succesfull companies where they have excellent food, but that's an exception.
The idea that career is a form of fulfillment is a fantasy for all but a lucky few. In reality, this idea is just a way to make people feel better about having to give their lives away for trivial things. By the time they retire, their health is so battered that they spend the remaining years shoveling pills into their mouths in a nursing home. It's time to put work back in its place- it's a way to make a living for most of us and a lot of us would be willing to trade off some income for more time. More time to acquire healthy food, cook it, keep house, spend time with our own children, enjoy life...
This article in the NYtimes just bolsters the fact that our lifestyles are untenable: sitting is deadly. Um, that's a problem since most jobs involve sitting. i'm not sure that standing in one place at a standing desk is really that much better, though it's a start.