The websites Grub Hub and Seamless basically do the same thing. They offer menus for restaurants that offer take out or delivery online, allowing you to order from their website and pay using a credit card.
Before you place your order, you can see how much your total would be for delivery and how much it would be if you picked it up. The websites take a percentage of the order cost — that’s how they make money. Combined, the two websites have more than 20,000 restaurants. Last year, about $875 million worth of food was ordered through the two websites.
Yesterday, the two websites merged. According to the Chicago Tribune, the merger will allow for an “expanded restaurant network for diners,” more diners available to the restaurants, and a “stronger offering” of combined products.
From a how people eat perspective, I find this interesting. $875 million was spent on these websites last year on take out food. That’s just on two websites. It’s only a fraction of what we spend on takeout each year, and that’s only a fraction of what we spend dining out in restaurants each year. We are truly becoming a nation that does not cook and eat the majority of their meals at home.
Maybe we all need to be paying attention to Michael Pollan’s new book “Cooked.” He makes the argument for more cooking at home from ingredients because “home cooking is a better predictor of a healthful diet than social class.” Those with a high social class may be able to afford take out food regularly, but most take-out food is not healthy.
“The outsourcing of cooking,” he says, “which costs more and is less healthy (and arguably, less tasty; food made with care for a smaller group always tastes better) might just be killing us, softly.”
I’m all for the occasional take out. Friday night pizza, from a local, independent Italian restaurant, is a staple in my home. If my particular pizza place were on Grub Hub or Seamless, I would use the sites if they made sense for me. But I think that if you find yourself logging into these sites several times a week, you might want to figure out how can add more cooking and less ordering into your diet.
Related on MNN: Why do people think cooking is hard?