A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Cooked is a detailed study of how people relate to the food they eat and what role it has played -- and continues to play -- in our cultures. On the whole, the show's content is fine for teens, but there are some instances of unfamiliar native traditions that must be put into context to understand them fully. Expect to see scenes of people hunting, killing, and preparing animals for cooking, as well as some potentially upsetting images of livestock in cramped quarters on farms. This series doesn't boast a lot of action, and it meanders along at a very slow pace, but if the topic is of interest to you, then you'll find the host a wealth of information.
What's the story?
COOKED is a docuseries that explores humans' relationship to their food, both now and in generations past. Hosted by Michael Pollan, who penned the book that inspired the series, the show looks at how the four natural elements -- fire, water, earth, and air -- affect our ability to find, prepare, and consume food and how doing so unites people. From the remote brush of Western Australia to the hills of North Carolina, food is essential to our basic survival but also to our evolution as human beings.
Is it any good?
This cerebral study of how, what, where, and with whom people eat has fascinating moments, and what Pollan draws from his experiences may change your view of your next meal plate. He's never preachy or judgmental, even when the content touches on issues such as free-range vs. high-density animal farming or vegetarianism, for instance; he just presents what he knows and lets viewers reach their own conclusions. He posits that Western culture has moved away from thinking too much about what we eat and where it came from, and he aims to change that with this work.
Cooked is unhurried to the point of dragging at times, more a 24-hour-slow-cook-barbecue than a dinner-on-the-table-in-15-minutes kind of pace. Even so, it has promise of broad appeal and will tempt foodies to hobby anthropologists to those with mere curiosity. The content isn't likely to entice tweens or teens, but if yours want to watch, the show offers many opportunities to talk about cultural diversity, among other topics raised.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the different cultures explored on this series. Which troubles arise as cultures evolve? Which troubles are eliminated?
What is the value in studying somewhat obscure topics such as the one on this show? Does anything you've learned here change your views in a positive way? Why do you think the food and cooking are such popular hobbies?
Teens: What instances of culture clashing with law do you see in existence currently? What force do you think should reign supreme? Does this clash exist in the United States? In other parts of the world?
For kids who love cooking
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