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Old 12-12-2010, 10:04 AM   #81
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I don't know whether I first saw this link here at DC or not, but this is an excellent article about this very topic.

Newsweek - Divided We Eat

In a nutshell, the article states that people eat what they can afford to eat based on the time they have, and food is the new class-defining item.

~Kathleen
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Old 12-12-2010, 01:36 PM   #82
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Thanks for the link Kathleen. After reading the article it made me glad not to be living in NYC -- no offense to you NYC folks, but it's just not for me. I'm new here, so none of you know me, thus I think it's probably important that I state this right at the outset: I am not a politcally correct kind of guy. I detest the entire PC movement, and this article fairly drips with PC-ness.

I've snipped a few quotes from the article.

"But modern America is a place of extremes, and what you eat for dinner has become the definitive marker of social status; as the distance between rich and poor continues to grow, the freshest, most nutritious foods have become luxury goods that only some can afford."

This is BS. At least here in Houston it is. The food distribution system here is, I guess, a lot different than it is in NYC. Within a five-mile radius of my house there are ten supermarkets that I can easily recall (incuding a Whole Foods) and many smaller specialty markets. Probably mostly because of the competition, these stores are forced to provide fresh food at reasonable prices. In any of them, I can walk in and buy a variety of fresh produce, meats, and seafood. As to their affordability, well, this varies with the markets. I live in a dichotomous part of Houston. There are folks on public assistance -- immigrant latinos mostly -- who live in apartments and housing just blocks away from neighborhoods where homes were selling for north of $1 million before the housing bubble burst. And in this area there are grocery stores that cater to the different segments of the population, so prices can vary widely with some items. For example, I can go to a local Kroger Signature store, which is very nicely appointed on the inside, and pay twice as much for onions as I would if I drove a couple miles farther down the same street and shopped at the local Fiesta that caters to the large immigrant population. A short drive in the opposite direction and I can pay twice as much for those onions by shopping at the Whole Foods. "Yes, but the Whole Foods onions are a much higher quality," some might say, and I'd say, "Prove it. I'm buying the cheap ones until you can justify the price difference."

"Whole Foods—the upscale grocery chain that recently reported a 58 percent increase in its quarterly profits . . . "

No surprises there -- not at their prices. If they buy their goods from the same sources as the other local markets, it's no wonder their profit margins are greater.

"Lower-income families don’t subsist on junk food and fast food because they lack nutritional education, as some have argued. And though many poor neighborhoods are, indeed, food deserts—meaning that the people who live there don’t have access to a well-stocked supermarket—many are not. Lower-income families choose sugary, fat, and processed foods because they’re cheaper—and because they taste good."

Elitist, and untrue. At least around these parts, it is. As for the first statement, I believe just the opposite is true. The biggest reason for lower-income families' poor diets is, I feel sure, their being sucked into mass media advertizing and believing all the crap being spewed out of the tube about processed foods. If anything they are overly suggestible which I would argue is directly attributable to a lower education level where they were never taught to think cricitally. As I stated in my earllier post, around these parts at least, it is always cheaper to cook from base ingredients than to go the pre-packaged food route. And for the base ingredients there are a few supermarkets in my area that cater specifically to the lower income segment. In the Fiesta I mentioned above, their produce department is as good as any of the more expensive markets, with the possible exception of Whole Foods -- but then they wouldn't be carrying a lot of the stuff WF does anyway because the demographic that shops there doesn't eat the stuff WF sells. But by the same token, they sell fresh produce that WF doesn't. Like cactus leaves, and a very wide variety of peppers, for example.

True, you're not gonna see much in the way of beef filet or porterhouse steaks at the Fiesta, but who's to say that those cuts are more nutritious than a cheaper (and leaner) cut of beef, like top sirloin or round steak? They may not have any organically raised beef or free-range chicken, and the reason is simple -- their clientele wouldn't buy it if they did. Any sort of claim that these more expensive types of meat are more nutritious is dubious to me. I'm not buying it (literally and figuratively).

"In a paper published last spring, Drewnowski showed how the prices of specific foods changed between 2004 and 2008 based on data from Seattle-area supermarkets. While food prices overall rose about 25 percent, the most nutritious foods (red peppers, raw oysters, spinach, mustard greens, romaine lettuce) rose 29 percent, while the least nutritious foods (white sugar, hard candy, jelly beans, and cola) rose just 16 percent."

Man, I can shoot this so full of wholes, I wonder why I should even bother. This is junk journalism at its worst. The "nutritious" foods covers a range of items from shellfish to produce, while the junk food items are all sugar based. So if sugar has withstood the inflationary trend of that 4-year period better than the produce and shellfish, then one would expect the prices for sugar-based products to be lower. There are economies of scale involved as well. White sugar is a raw commodity, shipped by the trainload, for pete's sake. Raw oysters involve a fairly intense amount of labor, and fuel costs (for both the boat and trucks that brought it to market) are going to be a significantly higher portion of the costs than shipping sugar by train. What I consider most alarming about the study this Drewnowski person conducted is the fact that there was a 25% increase in food costs! Then again, maybe not. Seems like, if anything, 25% is on the low side.

Yes, the woman who wrote that article is a food elitist. And that's fine with me. If it makes here feel better, then she should go for it. But to draw a conclusion that people who don't spend the kind of money she does on food and eat the way she does are somehow nutritionally worse off is just simple nonsense.
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Old 12-12-2010, 01:58 PM   #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KathleenA View Post
I don't know whether I first saw this link here at DC or not, but this is an excellent article about this very topic.

Newsweek - Divided We Eat

In a nutshell, the article states that people eat what they can afford to eat based on the time they have, and food is the new class-defining item.

~Kathleen
Thanks for the link. It's a very interesting and well-written piece.
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Old 12-12-2010, 04:04 PM   #84
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cooltouch, i agree with you. we need some sense in the prices of healthy food.
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Old 12-12-2010, 04:39 PM   #85
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Originally Posted by cooltouch View Post
Thanks for the link Kathleen. After reading the article it made me glad not to be living in NYC -- no offense to you NYC folks, but it's just not for me. I'm new here, so none of you know me, thus I think it's probably important that I state this right at the outset: I am not a politcally correct kind of guy. I detest the entire PC movement, and this article fairly drips with PC-ness.
I agree with much that you wrote. Where I live in NC is very much the same, I live next to an affluent suburb, but just down the street are more modest neighborhoods.

To elaborate on what you said, I think that there is so much confusion over eating "healthy" and eating "health food". Many seem to have the idea that eating healthy means buying organic, freerange or whatever buzzword used to overcharge for food. You can eat very "healthy", very inexpensively even at the more low end grocery stores. Planning menus around what is on sale, stocking up on great deals when it makes sense to do so, etc..

We have been taught as a society that we are far too busy to cook, we have been taught that to be a successful person/parent that we should always be busy. I have seen toddlers enrolled in karate and ballet classes, then when they get in school they are involved in lots of stuff, so a family these days is pretty much running around carting their kids from activity to activity. Marketing has done a great job convincing society that they should be doing all of this, and that their products are the answer to their hectic lives. I see this day in and day out, working in an affluent suburb. I can see why divorce rates are so high, parents working their tails off to fund a home, 2 cars and every activity that their kids are involved in, with no time for a real relationship with each other or their children. Society has gone way off track.

Cooking wholesome food doesn't have to be difficult or expensive, but if your day is completely filled I can see where people justify filling themselves and their kids with junk, even when they shouldn't
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Old 12-12-2010, 05:11 PM   #86
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This link is very true. It's the reality fo what we are facing right now. :D
Thanks for the post.
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Old 12-12-2010, 06:12 PM   #87
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The article is unfortunately true where I live. One place that I see class divides with food are at the local high school's cafeteria. Children with free/reduced lunches eat the school lunch, which is limited in healthy choices. Lots of cheap carbs and pressed/processed proteins. Children from wealthier families bring their lunches, which are typically filled with good foods. Unless it is taco day, then they all rush for the junk.

Recently, the student government wrote a letter complaining of lack of healthier snacks. They have a good point: snack cakes, chips and sugary drinks. Can they not place unsweetened juice in a machine?

~Kathleen
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Old 12-12-2010, 06:29 PM   #88
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A well made taco is not junk. Meat, tomatoes, lettuce, onion, sour cream, black olives in a crispy, but not fried corn shell.
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Old 12-12-2010, 06:39 PM   #89
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A well made taco is not junk. Meat, tomatoes, lettuce, onion, sour cream, black olives in a crispy, but not fried corn shell.
+1, but minus the sour cream for me and I prefer my tacos soft, the way they serve them at the local carniceria.
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Old 12-12-2010, 06:42 PM   #90
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+1, but minus the sour cream for me and I prefer my tacos soft, the way they serve them at the local carniceria.
Even more good for you.
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