Entitlement and Food: Part One of an 87 Part Series

For a long time now I’ve been meaning to write about something that troubles me in the food community: namely, that sense of entitlement that goes along with fine dining.

I don’t like the fact that when I go out to a nice restaurant and I look around the room everyone looks the same.

I don’t like the fact that poor people in this country eat poorer food and that rich people eat richer food.

I don’t like Rachel Ray. (But that has nothing to do with this essay).

When Jimmy Carter spoke at the law school several months ago, he asked and answered an interesting question. The question was: what about our society, 100 years from now, will seem as repugnant to Americans as slavery does to us today? And he answered: “I think it’s the divide between rich and poor; how rich people keep getting richer while poor people keep getting poorer. It’s a serious problem.”

Nowhere is this more evident than in our food culture.

Think about where and what you eat every day and then think of some place worse. That’s what more people eat every day. Now think of something better. That’s what fewer people eat every day.

What is it that a four star restaurant puts on your plate that a crap restaurant doesn’t?

1) Fresh ingredients;

2) Expertly prepared.

That’s about it. Ambience aside, that’s what you pay for.

So how come we can’t get fresher ingredients to more Americans? That’s half the battle. The expert preparation, that’s a limited resource—only so many people are trained as chefs. But even the worst chef can make a fresh, juicy tomato delicious. Even the most ramshackle kitchen can do wonders with a freshly caught fish. It’s freshness that’s lacking in American cuisine: that’s why the landscape—the McDonalds, the Dairy Queens, the Subways—are so depressing. Everything’s processed, packaged and shipped from God knows where. And what the majority of us are putting in our bodies is a very subtle form of poison—it’s the opposite of God’s bounty. It’s the anti-Eden. It’s corporate America.

What bothers me, you see, is that rich people eat better: plain and simple. They eat better and therefore they live better. I think there’s a connection between what you eat and how you live. Maybe the boon our economy needs is a reinvigoration of the National diet. Maybe I’ll use my internet prowess to start a revolution!

But there’s so much more I want to talk about and it’s already 2:43 am. (I’ve been up all night writing–and finishing!–my 30 page paper). Luckily this is an 87 part series, so I’ll have plenty more opportunity. Just some food for thought. Hopefully it’s fresh.

27 comments

  1. Maybe we can take it back a step, or perhaps clarify your post a bit? The problem with getting people nutritous food doesn’t start with having the money to eat at good restaurants, but having the money to buy things like a stove and a refrigerator. There are still plenty of families who can’t even afford to buy those appliances (or don’t have access to them because they live in shelters) and so live off of convenience food, which is more expensive in the long run, but readily available in the short run.

    Where do I eat every day? At home, and that’s the start of fiscally responsible and healthy eating habits. The question is how can we get more people to that point, and THEN address the problem of readily available healthy foods? (One off the cuff suggestion that is in practice here in Rochester NY is a farmer’s market. Our city every Saturday sponsors one, and it’s a great place to get cheap, farm fresh produce.)

  2. It seems to me that the “fast food culture” gets its hold on people through advertising, and the poor are more susceptible to this through television since it is their primary entertainment source. Corporate America has made sure that televisions are well within the grasp of most Americans except the worst off for this very reason.

    Most immigrant food cultures are based on fresh, available food sources – here in Minneapolis we have one of the largest contingents of Southeast Asians in the midwest, and the components of their cooking are not expensive and very healthy. Asian groceries are everywhere, but mostly in the poorer areas and the produce there is quite fresh and cheap. So availability of certain foods isn’t always the problem.

    As for Rachel Ray I can only agree. I saw a marathon of her programs recently and her only comment after a bite of food was, “Yummy!”

  3. There is definitely a problem in the U.S. where many people who DO have necessary resources like a basic home kitchen don’t know how to cook fresh food, or just don’t realize that it’s an option for them. I remember hearing about a program on the radio that was aimed at low-income families. It was mainly an educational program aimed at teaching people to cook more healthy, fresher food at a low cost. As the program progressed, they discovered that the biggest problem was that people didn’t know what to do with a fresh vegetable. They were used to working with things from cans and boxes. Fresh produce is usually affordable for most people, but you also need some skills to use it.

    It’s sort of like how American formula companies pay lip service to the idea that breast milk is best for babies, but mass-market their formula to the poorest Americans and people in less developed countries. There’s a cheap, natural, healthy alternative but corporations push whatever gets them the most profits. The same thing is true for grown-up food. They push bland, processed, less nutritious food on people with low incomes while those of us who can afford a decent kitchen, a good grocery budget, and the occasional cookbook (and who can afford, time- and money-wise, to experiment with new things) can get into organics and heirloom varieties and making things from scratch.

  4. I agree with most of what you have to say, but why don’t you like Rachael Ray? It’s Sandra Lee who annoys me.

  5. Even though you dissed the burnt-caramel ice cream that is the love of my heart, I have to commend you, Adam, for posting about this. I also agreed with some of the things other commenters said, but I do have something to add. Go to a grocery store in a low-income area and take a look at the produce. A lot of it is bruised, over- or under-ripe, misshapen, or just plain unappealing. I live in Baltimore, where many low-income and impoverished neighborhoods aren’t very close to any grocery stores and residents of those neighborhoods have to travel to shop for food, often on a bus. (Thankfully, I’m no longer one of those bus riders and I get to shop at a Whole Foods when I want really good produce.) Going to a bad grocery store can give a person a lot of insight into why someone might choose to buy canned, boxed, or otherwise prepared foods instead of fresh.

  6. Interesting and important conviction. However, to start an Internet revolution regarding this, one has to actually understand the plight of those who can’t afford “fresh ingredients” or the best ingredients. While I do not begrudge you your wealth or privilege, based on your blog, you are not the sort who is forced to pass up the high quality ingredients for the more reasonably priced ones. While it is none of my business, it just does not seem that you have reality check on the economics of the haves and have-nots.

    People are not too lazy or ignorant about how to use fresh food. For a lot of people who do not lead a life of privilege, feeding a family of 4 on family size box of frozen Chicken Parm or Salisbury steak is affordable, while the fresh ingredients to make the same meal would wipe out some family’s entire weekly food budget. The reality is, fast food and pre-packaged food is the only affordable option for people on a budget who want to eat every night instead of only 2 or 3 times a week (even if those meals consist of high quality ingredients).

    Regarding fast food vs. expensive places, fresh fish is not up-charged at fancy restaurants just because it can be. There is simply a higher cost of putting that on a plate than putting frozen fish (well, cooked, but . . .)on a plate. For starters, frozen fish is a no risk item, yet factored into fresh fish dish prices is the risk/cost of the fish that is not ordered and gets thrown out. If you strip away the “high brow” portion of the price at these places, there is still a high cost associated with fresh/better ingredients. You do get what you pay for.

    As for produce, it is a VERY important part of one’s diet, however, it is also VERY expensive, and not everyone has a local farmers market or the time to make an extra trip to one (and based on my experience, there is little difference in the price of farmers market produce and grocery store produce, though the quality is always higher). Fresh produce is a risk for low-income, fixed income, or otherwise budgeted people. Have you ever had the heartbreak of spending more than you can afford just to get fresh produce instead of canned/frozen/none at all, and have it rot or spoil the next day before you were able eat it or cook with it? These people need to be able to rely on the fact that none of their food budget is wasted.

    Is food inequality fair? No way. But teaching people about the value of fresh food (or how to cook it) is NOT going to help them be able to afford to buy it. Maybe more aid needs to go to farmers, ranchers and fishermen. Maybe the answer is more aid to lower income families. Maybe it’s an inner-city and lower economic area co-op gardening program. I definitely do not have the answer other than knowing that the answer is not simple education of the value of fresh food.

    One of the things that needs to change in this country before there is a greater priority placed on fresh foods is America’s “more is more” culture of quantity. You simply can’t find olive garden portions at places offering really fresh food, yet, selling points of many restaurants is “huge portions” and “all-you-can-eat.” For many people, value for money is quantity, not fresh ingredients artfully displayed in the center of the plate. They want a Everest of mashed potatos AND the whole cow, not a couple of the finest fingerling potatos to accent the palm sized Chateaubriand.

    But let me tell you how I really feel about this subject . . . . sorry for such a long winded comment!

  7. mccoll you have a point that I’m ashamed that I didn’t mention before, seeings how it’s now a HUGE problem in Rochester. Rochester has two major supermarket chains: Tops and Wegmans. Wegmans is definately the higher end retailer, whereas Tops is more of your typical grocery market. I’ve shopped at both, and can wholeheartedly agree that the produce at Tops isn’t nearly as fresh as Wegmans. Their prices however are less, accordingly, but after buying a head of broccoli and having it rot, IN MY FRIDGE, two days later is frustrating to say the least.

    Anyway, back to my point. Along with the great population flight to the suburbs the grocery stores have followed suit. To the best of my knowledge, in the city limits of Rochester (so, not counting the burbs) there are five Tops stores and two Wegmans stores, to service a city population of over 250,000! I am no economist, civil engineer, nor grocery retailer expert but 7 grocery stores to provide food to 250k people seems like a small number. I live in the city and I admit to driving to the ‘burbs to get better produce than what I can get in the city stores.

    So it’s not only having the money to get the fresh food, but the means of getting it back to their homes and THEN the knowledge of what to do with that food (hat tip to susan.) City transportation naturally is a possibility, but lugging home groceries for a family of four on a bus? I coudln’t imagine.

    So we have the problem of accessibility, resources, and knowledge, three things that the poor are usually lacking. There was an uproar in Rochester when Wegmans closed one of their city stores (that happened to service not only a low income neighborhood but also a large university, where the majority of students do not have cars) and Wegmans has bowed to community pressure to open another store in the city. I don’t know what the plans are yet, but at least in this case the community objected, and the corporation responded.

  8. In response to Holly, there’s actually a lot of fresh food that’s cheaper than prepared food. No, I don’t expect everyone to be preparing salads of baby greens and steak tartare every night. But things like dried beans, kale, collard greens, bananas, broccoli, rice, soy beans, apples, chicken, some fish–all super cheap, they just take a little practice and the right equipment to prepare. Dinner for four at McDonalds runs at least $20, and you can make lots of fresh, yummy, fast meals for that.

    So I do think that education and more access to equipment would help a lot of people eat a lot better. And it also might take thinking outside the box–creating neighborhood kitchens where people can share equipment and work together on meals. Or helping people get small loans for kitchen equipment so they don’t have to keep shelling out money for fast food or spend huge amounts to rent equipment.

    And I also concurr about supermarkets in low-income neighborhoods. I live in Harlem, and it always infuriates me that the local supermarket charges at least twice the price for produce as the ones downtown and the produce always rots twice as fast. Damn the man. :)

  9. Emily, while dry beans and rice are less expensive (I have never bought kale to know what it costs and I have never seen dry soy beans in the stores other than specialty soy nuts), most of the other items are not. First of all, when you are on a budget and need to stretch your money far to feed a lot of people, apples are a luxury, not a necessity. Bananas and Broccoli are not cheap, nor is chicken or fish. I don’t know what chicken and fish cost in your area, but in mine, it costs a lot more than it does to get prepared chicken, for a larger quantity than the fresh. Preparing fresh food might not be so costly for people who are already stocked with the basics, but for those who are not, its quite an investment to stock them. Have you seen the price of spices? You could argue that they go a long way, but if you don’t have the extra $3.99 for that bottle if garlic powder, what are you going to do? Some people can’t afford to stock the basics so that a simple recipe is just what you have plus a few ingredients. The fact is, when you are looking to make food go a long way, prepared food is cheaper.

    Loans for people to get cookware and appliances is not logical. Think of the woman with 2 minimum wage jobs and 4 children to feed. The woman who can hardly make the rent on time, let alone have money left over to pay loans. If someone were to grant her credit to buy a stove and some pots and pans, how will she pay it back? And how will she afford the additional utility bills for using these new appliances? Perhaps an appliance recycling effort would work out, say I buy a new oven because mine is old/not working properly, then I donate mine to a service who will repair it for free and deliver it to a needy person. THAT would work. As for your idea of neighborhood kitchens, I do think that is a great idea, it would probably help them to cook their TV dinners. However, I think that the larger problem is affordability of fresh foods, not access to cookery.

    All this aside, when I talk about people who can’t afford fresh food, I am mainly not talking about people who are at the level of impoverishment where they don’t have a stove or cookery (not that these people should be left out, they are just not the ones I had in mind when I was moved to comment), I am talking about people who live at or just below the standard but have additional circumstances that make their budget tighter.

    Sure, McDonalds is not cheap, but I am not even talking about McDonalds. I’m Talking about convenience foods. I still maintain, buy 5 family size portions of generic frozen entrĂ©es and 5 bags of mixed vegetables, and that’s about $20. Tell me how you would feed a family of at least 4 for 5 nights for $20 with all fresh food using no prepared or prepackaged ingredients?

  10. Wow—what vibrant commentary from everyone. Thanks for taking my 2am whim seriously.

    Holly, your posts are like much-needed splashes of ice water in the face, so thanks for keeping it real. What immediately comes to mind is an essay in Jeffrey Steingarten’s “The Man Who Ate Everything” in which he attempts to eat on a budget consistent with that of the average American. Quoting Steingarten:

    “The government does know that the average American household consists of one and six-tenths adults, seven-tenths of a child, and three-tenths of an elderly person (for a total of two and six-tenths humans), who collectively spend $4,271 a year on food, both in and out of the house. THat comes to $4.50 a person a day, or $1.50 a meal. My disbelief at hearing these numbers cannot be entirely blamed on my own gluttonous nature. The French and the Japanese are happy to spend twice as much for their exquisite food. We, the richest country in the world, have simply chosen to scrimp. Among the wealthy countries, only the British spend much less than we do. This says volumes to me.”

    Steingarten goes on to prepare MKF Fisher’s “Sludge” that offers “a streamlined answer to the pressing problem of how to exist the best possible way for the least amount of money.”

    The rest of the essay is marvelous, and I won’t go into it here.

    I’m sorry if I gave the impression that I think education regarding fresh ingredients is THE answer to our nation’s woes. I know that it is not. And I strongly agree that most people value quantity over quality. My essay was not meant to be a critique of our nation’s poor, but a critique of our nation’s wealthy: how can they eat so well when so many others do not?

    “Entitlement” is the issue that I really want to get after. Why is food the locus of our nation’s economic divide? Our entertainment (with the exception of theater and concerts) is levelled: we all have access to the same movies, the same TV shows. We do not all have access to the same food. That’s my issue and I’m sticking to it.

  11. We do all have access to the same food, though. For a price. And the wealthy can eat better because, well, they’re wealthy.

    You, for example, regularly eat at restaurants that are beyond my means. Am I uneasy at night over it? No. Are you? I hope not, but I’ll let you take me to dinner if it’ll make you rest easy.

    It’s just economics. And the notion that some people are eating worse and worse over time is blarney. The poor people of today can eat far better than many rich people could just 50 years ago.

    And notice how it’s a choice that people spend what they do on food.

    I think that gets at your question. The reason food is the place at which folks divide is because now, more than any other time in history, our nation has more choices across a wider range of prices; it’s a commodity here. That’s why food as an indicator of status is behind things like clothes, cars, houses, and other less perishable goods.

    Oh but I’m an irreverent, mean ol’ Capitalist who thinks Jimmy Carter is largely a bonehead no matter what the Nobel prize committee says, so don’t mind me.

  12. I was also thinking of Steingarten’s essay, but you really should read M.F.K. Fisher’s excellent book on subsistence cooking, “How to Cook a Wolf.” Even if you’re not in those straits, it bears some thought, and man oh man could she write.

  13. I hate Rachel Ray, too.

    How to spend $40 a day on eating out? *Only* $40….

    How to make a meal in 30 minutes flat? It’s called a sandwich & salad, biatch.

    What I want to know is where the other half of her torso is located. It’s rather on the short side, isn’t it?

  14. “Entitlement” is the issue that I really want to get after. Why is food the locus of our nation’s economic divide? Our entertainment (with the exception of theater and concerts) is levelled: we all have access to the same movies, the same TV shows. We do not all have access to the same food. That’s my issue and I’m sticking to it.

    With all due respect, AmateurGourmet, I have to call you out on this. TV and movies are NOT leveled regardless of economic factors. I don’t have cable, therefore I’m way out of the loop on the latest Sex in the City episode or what’s on Comedy Central (or C-Span for that matter) and movies are quite expensive to go to. Food is not the line in the economic sand in our nation and to think so (while understandable, since this is a foodie blog) is rather naive (IMNSHO. ;^)

    I understand what you’re trying to get at and I’m not saying that it is one aspect of the economic divide in our country, but to say it’s THE defining economic factor in our society is a narrow view on things.

  15. Holly and One both have good points, definitely. Entitlement (or to put it more bluntly, class) is such a divisive issue in part because it is nearly invisible to those on the have side of things. Trey Given’s post is a perfect example of the myopia money causes.

    I’m guilty of it, too. We all are. The important thing (to my mind) is to do the difficult work of trying to see class more clearly.

  16. I don’t think I made my movie/TV/food point well. It did occur to me, when I was making it, that not everyone has HBO or the money to go see a movie every Friday night. But that wasn’t really my point. My point was that when they DO go see a movie and when they DO get HBO, they’re watching the same programming that wealthier people do.

    With food, there are so many other factors involved that access is much more limited. To go to a top restaurant there is the matter of, first and foremost, knowing about the top restaurant. Many places–like French Laundrey, for example–are difficult for even the wealthiest wealthy person to get into. Access to many of our nation’s finest restaurants requires status–a sad, unfortunate truth. Then there’s the matter of appearance and, not to indict the entire culinary world, there is definitely an element of racism and classism involved in how guests are treated. So even when one is granted access, they are still not given the same attention and service that a powerful “entitled” person would be. And then there’s the matter of food which–as this site has clearly demonstrated–takes an education many people don’t have access to. I sincerely believe that if you took five homeless people off the street and took them to the Gramercy Tavern, they’d stare down at their sweetbreads in disbelief asking: “What the hell is this?” There’s an intellectual conceit involved with fine dining and I experienced that first hand when I went to Charlie Trotter’s and I had no idea that my poussain wasn’t a fish. And getting access to the information required to figure it all out took work. I still don’t understand 90% of what is served in America’s finest restaurants, but I will learn. Most people won’t. And that’s the problem I have.

  17. Mssr. Amateur Gourmet: AHA! now I understand what it was you were getting at. Thanks for the clarification.

  18. Note of clarification: it is not money that has made me “myopic” it is an understanding of market mechanics and a high tolerance for other people’s pain.

    Shall I make a reading list or just be quiet now in the understanding that I am outnumbered and not the teacher of this class?

    ;o)

    But I will also say that I am guilty of nothing, especially not that of ignoring the facts. I have actually acknowledged and supported the observation that there exists a vast range of social-economic strata.

    I have only challenged, like “One” above, the notion that food is the defining aspect of that stratification. Instead, I have backed TAG’s observations and answered his question (Why do poor folks eat so poorly?) with observable economic pinciple but clarified it to say that the phenomenon which sparked the question is but a manifestation of that stratification whose defining characteristic is simply wealth.

    Oh but because y’all as so far-seeing and I am so myopic, you knew that already didn’t you?

    Where I believe you probably take exception with my position is that I’m a Capitalist who refuses to be faulted (or billed, when I can help it!) because not everyone has the same opportunities, abilities, or resources at their disposal.

    I have yet to hear a decent argument for why I should accept any guilt for my successes or why I should be obliged to support those who are less fortunate or more needy.

    But I think at this point the discussion leads down a path unintended by the author of this esteemed food blog.

    Great job at stimulating discussion, Adam!

  19. Trey: I think it’s rather unfair to assume that people disagree with you because they haven’t familiarized themselves with the proper reading material. I’m sure that everyone who contributed to this thread has invested a good deal of time in learning about these issues. You might quarrel with the sources I turn to for my information, but it’s likely I’d quarrel with yours too–we’re entitled to our own standards. Anyway, you can never tell what people have read and what they haven’t. I used to know an anarchist who had read tons of Adam Smith. I myself somehow managed to plod through an entire book by William Graham Sumner. Didn’t change my mind about anything, though.

  20. ooh, I seem to have hit a hot spot for our fellow interlocutor, Trey Givens. Mr. Givens said in his original post, “Notice how it’s a choice that people spend what they do on food.” I maintain that such a statement is short-sighted in that it ignores other market-based exigencies to which members of various strata must respond, specifically those who don’t have disposible income for such luxuries as fresh food.

    Also, my comment did not in any way suggest that you, Trey Givens, should feel guilty for your successes or bad for being a capitalist. I don’t. But by the same token, poor people are not simply misfortunate or inherently more needy than rich people. Success or failure in our economy is largely dissociated from merit.

    We can argue about the value of various economic systems all day. What it appears to come down to is that poor people eat poorly. They do not have access to high-quality food because they do not have the money to buy it, not because they are ignorant about how fun it is to eat great food or about how to make great food.

    No single person can solve this problem because it is systemic. I personally choose to deal with it in part by trying my best to acknowledge my privileged position and to enjoy fully those luxuries I can afford, like eating out and internet service. To that end, AG’s question is really worthwhile.

  21. I think it’s actually quite gracious to blame dissent from the correct position on ignorance over stupidity, but that’s because I’m an optimist on top of being brash and egotistical.

    heh heh heh…

    I appreciate much of McColl’s clarification, but take exception here: “They do not have access to high-quality food because they do not have the money to buy it, not because they are ignorant about how fun it is to eat great food or about how to make great food.”

    First, I take exception because I didn’t say they are ignorant. In fact, I claimed that they are aware of the joy and luxury of the food, but they choose not to invest in it for the sake of other luxuries.

    Second, the vast majority of “poor” people do have some disposible income. What they choose to spend that income on is the question. Nothing dictates that they must not spend it on fresh food, but the observation TAG makes is that they do not.

    I support that observation and explain the phenomenon by saying that they choose to spend that money on other luxuries.

    There is but a single, nearly infinitely small *possible* income strata to which my theory may not apply and I have my doubts that there are any members of this set. That is the set of people who have absolutely no margin for reducing spending in their own budgets where every cent goes to some ABSOLUTE necessity AND have absolutely no access to “good” food to which they can apply the part of their budget used for sustenance.

    Notice the “AND” in there and you will understand why I am skeptical that even one such person exists.

    Which means that all other people could buy so-called “good food” if they wanted to.

  22. F Scott Fitzgerald once said, “The rich are different”.

    Ernest Hemingway replied, “Yes, they have more money”.

    There has long been a class difference in eating. Class and money are the ways societies allocate one’s ability to do things or have things done. It’s sort of like energy is the ability to do work.

    People of lower class and with less money have narrower horizons and live in smaller worlds. The United States is unusual in that, even today, it is possible to look beyond one’s horizons and climb the mountains there. In fact, this is often why people move, to get away from their initial allocations.

    The difference in eating is not new. Early polar expeditions often ran into problems, and it was the upper class folks, the ship’s officers, the scientists, the explorers, who survived, often because they were willing to eat seal meat or whale fat, while the lower class sorts would not. Have you ever smelled a dead whale, even a fresh one? We had one on our beach and thank God the Makah tribe was willing to take it because no one else could!

    It is probably an axiom that poor people eat less expensive food than rich people because they have less money.

    Feminists and other visionaries have long pointed out the inherent inefficiencies of each family having its own in house food preparer, its own stove, its own pots and pans and so on. The efficiency experts objected because it wasted societal resources. In the early 20th century manufacturing processes often resulted in two or three orders of magnitude in cost reduction. The feminists objected because that in house food preparer was usually a woman. A lot of those bizarre recipes we find in 1950s cookbooks reflect a rather profound hatred for food and cooking.

    Now, thanks to the triumph of material feminism women are no longer chained to the kitchen, instead, food is prepared by professionals, in bulk, and is shipped frozen, or dried, or whatever stable form keeps the costs down. The prices are cheaper, and poor people are now faced with the dangers of obesity rather than starvation.

    Of course, this doesn’t give any account to the external costs of this food. It is generally high in fat, sugar and salt. This puts the ingester at increased risk for obesity with its higher health care costs. There is also the breakdown of family and social life.

    We don’t just eat nutrients, we also ingest meaning. Americans have always been eat for fuel types, at least since the early 19th century. Now, we have reached a certain apotheosis and have done serious damage to the concept of the family meal.

    I was down at the Union Square Farmer’s Market talking to a cheesemaker from Cato’s Corner Farms and he said, “Henry Ford did some wonderful things”, and then he gave a meaningful shrug before cutting us a slice of his amazing cheese.

  23. A Kaleberg, that was a wonderful post. Would it be fair, then, to blame the poor state of food in America on the feminists? My roommate would have a fit.

    But it did occur to me, when mulling over Rosalind’s comment (in part two), that in addition to “vintage” American recipes being fodder for stay-at-home moms, that they are sneaky corporate goody bags to encourage spending. I mean think about what you’d find in 50s and 60s “vintage” recipe books: Jello(TM) molds; Sweet Potato with Marshmallow(TM) topping; Onion Dip with Campbells Onion Soup(TM). I think you get my point. Just because people fed into a phenomenon doesn’t mean the phenomenon was good. But that goes to a whole other debate: popular culture vs. culture. Too bad I have 8000 things to cram before my test tomorrow!

  24. I think the major problem is the disparity in prices of fresh produce and prepared/shelved foods. While some of us may be able to go to a farmer’s market and get cheap tomatoes or produce, it is highly difficult in other parts of the country. If I go to one fish market by my house, I pay $13/lb for Red Snapper. However, if I travel 15 miles, I can get it for $6/lb at an Asian market. I’m sure in Iceland, wild salmon is readily available at reasonable prices. The problem in this country is, it’s cheaper to buy a snack cake and get a couple hundred calories than to get an equal amount of calories in fresh produce (or even an equal weight). I think this is mainly becuase the produce is centralized to large farms and then the customer must pay all the distribution costs. By the time they receive the produce it is not as fresh.

    In some other countries, owning arable land may be much more natural. Without direct access to a farmer’s market, consumers must pay the cost of stocking and showcasing the produce.

    Eating well in restaurants is a different story. I think the wealthier may have access to fresher food, but four star restaurants, in my mind, is also associated with fatty, creamy sauces and rich desserts. While McDonald’s is infinitely worse, someone who is willing to eat at subway for $7 is better off than eating a five course meal for upwards of $100.

    Maybe i’m off topic here, but it upsets me that purchasing foods loaded with trans fats (see McDonalds, see Little Debbie, see any mass-produced cracker) is much cheaper and easier than buying fresh produce.

  25. I don’t really have a problem with Rachel Ray, except for maybe that weird toaster she has built into her stove. What annoys you about her? Anyway – I just wanted to put in my 2 cents. – Take Care. – Brian

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