TikTok’s wake-up call: cooking videos and encouragement of home-cooked meals

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Over the past few months, a Tiktok creator who has gained a huge amount of popularity is Nara Smith with over three million followers. In an attempt to make myself feel better about the horrific amount of time I spend scrolling each day, I want to investigate the lifestyle she promotes, and how the ridicule she has been met with is somewhat unjustified.

For those who spend their time slightly more productively than me, Nara Smith makes daily cooking videos about what she makes her two toddlers and her husband, Lucky Blue Smith. These videos have gained popularity for their calming nature, but also how elaborate each recipe is. For example, a cheese toastie which for the average person would take a mere few minutes to make gets turned into an elaborate process of her painstakingly making each key component, showing footage of her kneading the bread, curdling her milk into cheese, and whisking cream until it turns into butter.

These elaborate processes have been met with a somewhat mixed reception. My perception of these videos is that I deeply admire her commitment to health and being a stay-at-home mum who is truly passionate about her hobby of cooking and making sure her family eat as organically as possible. Others have criticised such behaviour, saying that they barely have the time to cook three easy meals for their family, let alone make each ingredient from scratch and that this is what a ‘rich lifestyle’ looks like.

My question is, is it time to revert back to such practices of making food from scratch? If we were to explain to our ancestors that the vast majority of us rely on ‘quick fixes’ such as shop bought bread for under a pound, microwavable meals and even tinned food such as soups and beans, they would be shocked at our convenience culture surrounding food. Whilst I understand it is called convenience for a reason, and not all of us have the time or even desire to cook food from scratch, do we really understand what it takes to make food nowadays, or even where our food comes from?

Is it time to revert back to such practices of making food from scratch?

Over the past ten years expose documentaries about the origins of food have been released which show huge companies cutting corners, using preservatives and additives, and transporting our food from all corners of the world. By stripping back as Smith does, we are viewing first hand what goes into our food, both in terms of ingredients and labour. If I were to ask the average person, say yourself, the reader, what ingredients would be needed to make bread, what do you think your answer would be? This shocking reality of being so detached from where our food comes from not only demonstrates potential health wake up calls, but it also removes the emotional connection from the process of preparing, and even eating food.

When was the last time you can honestly say you cooked a meal from scratch and enjoyed it with loved ones? For me, food not only serves as sustenance and something that is necessary to keep ourselves alive, but it is a way of connecting the soul with the stomach, feeding our families food that has been prepared with love, and prepared with loved ones in mind.

So rarely do we see influencers who are stay at home fathers

Having said this, I do feel a slight concern with the amount of content creators, like Nara Smith, who are females that are promoting this lifestyle. So rarely do we see influencers who are stay at home fathers, let alone who take on the role of cooking and caring for their families. This portrayal, especially in progressive modern-day society, is somewhat dangerous as it reinforces the idea of the kitchen and being the primary caretaker is a women’s role, an idea that needs to be dismantled, and these roles need to be shared, or even assumed by males at times. Having said that, true feminism should allow Smith to be a traditional housewife, if that is what she wants. In other words, I am not criticising by any means Nara Smith’s choices, but rather highlighting the broader issue of gender roles in society.

What I find particularly interesting is, why has Smith, who is portraying what I believe to be, on balance, a very positive and wholesome lifestyle, getting more hatred than a similarly wealthy influencer who flashes their excessive lifestyle with private jets and designer handbags? Is it because some people believe that this modest lifestyle is denying her privilege? Ultimately, the diverse reactions highlight the subjective nature of social media reception, shaped by individual preferences, societal trends, and the specific communities within the online space. Nevertheless, from my point of view we should respect Smith’s choice of being a stay-at-home mum, who clearly dotes upon and nourishes her children with food and her holistic approach to life.

Image: Nilanjan Sasmal via Wikimedia Commons

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