I have a vague memory of the late 1970’s in Middle America where every female member of my extended family was on a daily diet — at least when in the public company of others. The standard 1970’s diet plate — in case you need reminding or edification — consisted of the following:
- A lump of cottage cheese
- A lean, grey, paper-thin “extra lean” hamburger patty on wilted lettuce
- One slice of tomato
- One canned peach slice in light syrup
- Non-sweetened iced tea, weakly brewed
I can’t remember one person delighting in having to eat that slop. It took ten years — in the late 1980’s — for scientists and dietitians to discover the standard 1970’s diet plate was actually just as fattening and bad for your health as what the men in our family had been eating all along at every meal: Steak and potatoes! Then the Diet Nation turned to the microwave oven as the salvation of homemaker sweat and as an opportunity of everyday convenience for helping to create healthy food fast.
Speed of preparation took precedence over any consumer fears of eating microwaved food and thus helped to set the production of expectation for irradiated food to come. Today, it is hard to find a healthy, pre-packaged meal, that doesn’t require a microwave for the cooking. Five years ago you could heat up your prepared meal in an oven. Three years ago you could boil your prepared meal on a stovetop.
A year ago you had a choice of three preparations: Oven, boiling or microwave. Now, if you don’t have a microwave, you can’t even get in the pre-packaged meal game and you are left to drool on the sidelines with rotting memories of cottage cheese lumps and extra-lean burger patties dancing with wilted lettuce on your tongue.