For several generations, the heavyweights of American marketing have been shoving convenience down our throats. Busy people want their food quick and easy, advertisers say. And if you don’t, maybe you’re not busy enough.

This notion of convenience has snookered us but good. In the span of my grandparents’ lifetimes, wood-fired ovens begat electric ranges begat microwaves. And now, even push-button cooking’s a drag. So we grab something on the run — usually something packaged, salted, sugared, caffeinated, greased.

All this convenience does indeed save time, which, according to various surveys, the average American invests in watching television (four hours a day), surfing the internet (twenty-eight minutes a day), or talking on cell phones (twenty minutes a day). Surely, those must be better investments than cooking? More worthy and rewarding than, say, chopping garlic and onions, or steaming broccoli, or broiling a nice piece of fish?

The fortunate among us remember when cooking was a gift, the warm and fragrant reassurance that yes, we were safely at home. We remember grandma’s famous fried chicken, grandpa’s homegrown tomatoes, mom’s spinach casserole, dad’s homemade bread — food so emotionally and nutritionally satisfying that we didn’t leave the table craving the next hit of sugar and salt. We remember when we were too busy hoeing the garden or riding a bicycle — or actually cooking — to sit in front of the television with a lap full of snacks. We were busy then, too. Too busy to sit and get fat.

Americans today are at war with their food, nutritionists say. We count calories as if they were enemy soldiers, battle one radical diet after another, post sentries against marauding fats and oils, demonize cholesterol, vilify the egg. And we’re losing the war. But hey, at least cooking and eating aren’t wasting our time.

Let’s call a truce, clear our heads. Read Jason Smith’s cover story, which harvests advice on nutrition and boils it down ready to use. None of this advice will surprise you. Mostly, it’s plain common sense, but it’s backed with a mountain of science. No gimmicks, no come-ons, no fads. Our nutrition experts aren’t pushing a diet, a product, or a week at the spa. They’re not pushing anything but health.

Neil Caudle was the editor of Endeavors for fifteen years.