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[personal profile] firebyrd
While I think the word "privilege" gets thrown around too much, sometimes things just reek of it. A thread on /. devolved into basically calling people who don't eat healthy stupid and lazy. "Eating healthy is cheaper than fast food!" was declared over and over. Some people tried to bring up things such as the opportunity costs of cooking, but were mostly brushed off. What amazes me is that no one seemed to understand that it's not a dichotomy between eating healthy and eating fast food/expensive frozen dinners/pizza/etc. While eating healthy may be cheaper than eating fast food all the time, eating healthy /is/ more expensive than eating cheaply.

Apples are cheaper than many kinds of fresh fruit and veggies. One still costs $0.30-$0.50 each depending on the size. How many people will one apple feed compared to the $0.50 box of generic mac and cheese? How much does ramen cost compared to carrots? And so on and so forth. You have to look at all that before you even consider the opportunity cost of cooking. Throwing a pan of water on to boil and dumping a box of something in takes a lot less time and energy than chopping up vegetables and doing whatever it is that you're going to be doing with them. The variety of cheap frozen veggies is pretty slim, at least around here, consisting mostly of peas and corn, which aren't exactly the healthiest of veggies anyway. California mixes of cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots are usually more expensive. Anything other than those five things are either very expensive and/or inedible (seriously, even when used in cooking, frozen spinach is beyond disgusting, and I /like/ spinach!).

I've had this argument with people before, most notably with someone who lives in San Diego. The privilege just drips from someone like that. Let's see, you live in an area where much of the produce of the Western US, if not the whole country, is grown. You have farmers' markets year round. You don't have the cost of transportation added into the price of things, and you're trying to tell /me/ that eating fruits and vegetables is cheaper than anything else? Drives me crazy.

We're actually going to try joining a CSA this year and have my mom chop the stuff up for me so that I can hopefully use it, since the opportunity cost is as much if not more of an issue for me personally. Hopefully that's going to help us eat healthier at least. But for people who have even less money than us, that live in areas where there is little local stuff available other than in summer, or where there are even no grocery stores, just 7-11 type stuff...eating healthy is most certainly /not/ cheap nor is it is easy.

Date: 2012-02-27 09:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fealubryne.livejournal.com
Ugh, for real. It's one of the most frustrating things in the world for me. I want to eat healthy, it's not that I don't. I would love to, honestly. The problem is... yeah, exactly like you said. I can either plan out a week's worth of meals (which I then have to prepare, cook, serve, and then clean up after - which I don't always have the time/energy to do) and spend anywhere from $30-50, or I can buy a box of 8-10 ramen packages which you pour some boiling water into, grab a fork, then toss afterwards, for about $3.

It sucks. It really sucks.

Date: 2012-02-27 10:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] firebyrd.livejournal.com
You've got it, and you understand the energy issues I face far better than most do. Before the kids, I managed the cooking thing more on and off, but when the choice is between changing diapers when they need to be done and chopping up veggies in order to prepare a meal, guess which wins out? That's without even going into the money issues! Are you and Kassie on WIC at least? If not, you need to go get signed up. They give $6/month for fresh produce for the average person, and as a breastfeeder, you might even get more.

Date: 2012-02-27 09:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] evilgrayson.livejournal.com
Ten meals of ramen for a quid. Two meals of Cheapest Ground Beef for two quid, before everything that needs to go into it to make it into food, not counting the time and energy involved in actually Cooking.

Yes, as I said to the doctor the other day, I'd need to be better off to eat healthily.

Date: 2012-02-27 10:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] firebyrd.livejournal.com
Exactly this, unfortunately. I'm sorry, though not surprised, that it's just as bad on your side of the pond.

Date: 2012-02-27 11:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] houseboatonstyx.livejournal.com
"Opportunity cost" -- I know what you mean!

Commodorified and friends are doing a series of posts on how to cope with the problems AROUND fixing healthy food. Transport, storage, processing, etc.

http://commodorified.dreamwidth.org/tag/cooking+for+people+who+don%27t+carnival

Date: 2012-02-28 09:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] firebyrd.livejournal.com
Thanks for the link! I've already found some interesting stuff from it.

Date: 2012-02-28 03:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thistle-chaser.livejournal.com
While eating healthy may be cheaper than eating fast food all the time, eating healthy /is/ more expensive than eating cheaply.

Heck yes. How often have I spent $10 or $20 trying to cook something healthy and have it come out so badly it's not worth eating. I could have gotten a couple fast food meals for the same money! Or a few frozen dinners!

You have to look at all that before you even consider the opportunity cost of cooking. Throwing a pan of water on to boil and dumping a box of something in takes a lot less time and energy than chopping up vegetables and doing whatever it is that you're going to be doing with them.

That, too. Even with the best of intentions, I sometimes have trouble making time to cook. I can toss a TV dinner in the microwave, stir it midway through, and have a meal ready in three minutes. What healthy food could I make as fast and effortlessly?

at least around here, consisting mostly of peas and corn, which aren't exactly the healthiest of veggies anyway.

So sad about that. I was overjoyed to discover that I liked peas... then nearly the next day I learned that they're actually carbs (like corn), so count as potato/starch/bread, not a veggie at all. Sigh.

I really like the idea of CSA boxes. If I ate any more vegetables, I'd seriously look into that option.

Date: 2012-02-28 08:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] firebyrd.livejournal.com
You've got the additional problem of having to try to cook for one. Since most recipes are designed for a group (and plenty won't even scale down well enough for one person), you've got a lot invested when it fails that wouldn't have otherwise been spent in the first place.

It is too bad about your veggie issues. I bet you have tons of CSA options in your area. We've only got five around here and most of them are just 12-14 weeks.

Date: 2012-02-28 09:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thistle-chaser.livejournal.com
Yeah, true. Even when my attempt at cooking comes out "well" (worth eating), it's never so good the leftovers are, so a lot gets wasted that way.

I'm sure we have lots of CSA options around here, yeah. And failing that, like you said, we have the farmer's market year round. I could actually go to four different ones per week (four locations, four different days of the week. The same group runs them all, though the vendors aren't the same at each).

Date: 2012-02-28 10:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] evilgrayson.livejournal.com
I find a lot of stews and things like lasagne are actually better the day after. Pasticcio in particular is far, far nicer a day or two later, and the ex's family make it in turkey-roasting-tray quantities. It's a lot of food for not *that* much effort, and relatively cheap, especially if you can make your own pasta sauce.

Hmm. Must make that again myself...

Date: 2012-02-28 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thistle-chaser.livejournal.com
Hmm, I should give a stew another try, it's been a while since my last attempt. That sounds especially good on a chilly day like today!

Date: 2012-02-28 11:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] evilgrayson.livejournal.com
We've grown quite fond of chilli, actually. The slow cooker/crock pot/stock pot was a wonderful invention.

1lb ground beef, one or two onions hacked into random lumps, two tins cheap baked beans in tomato sauce, one tin red kidney beans, one tin chopped tomatoes, chilli powder, stock cube, a couple of chopped bell peppers if they're handy (we get these pre-chopped and frozen for less than we can get them fresh). One teaspoon cocoa powder. Don't laugh, the cocoa works, especially if you overdid the chilli powder. A little cornflour (cornstarch, I think) if it turns out too thin. It's downright simple, and one pot keeps us fed for three days, more if we have rice or bread with it. Can also be frozen. Nicer the day after. Add lumps of potato or leek if desired.

Similar recipes work for chicken, pork or corned beef, though you'll probably want to cut back on bean, chilli and cocoa content. Dumplings are lovely, quick to prep and very difficult to get wrong, if you can find a suet substitute.

Date: 2012-02-28 11:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] evilgrayson.livejournal.com
Oh, and garlic. This is one of those recipes where garlic is good. Garlic granules are perfectly acceptable, they come in the same sort of pots as herbs and spices here.

Fry up mince, onion and garlic until mince is cooked. (For mince, see Ground Beef.) Sling in stock pot. Add everything else. Stir. Ignore for at least two hours. Check the taste, add more chilli or cocoa as required. Ignore until eating time. If you can, it smells so good. :)

Date: 2012-02-28 11:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] firebyrd.livejournal.com
Hah, we both went for the chocolate chili recipes, even if they were different ones!

Date: 2012-02-29 04:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thistle-chaser.livejournal.com
Hmm, interesting, thanks! I do like my crockpot as well, I just don't use it nearly enough. Maybe this weekend!

Date: 2012-02-28 11:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] firebyrd.livejournal.com
Stew is also something you could easily freeze leftovers so as to have a quick meal some other time. Something like this (http://www.food.com/recipe/black-bean-and-chocolate-chili-89066) might be worth trying too. I don't like chili in general but I love this. It modifies really well too so you can take out some of the yucky vegetables or at least put them in so small that you don't notice them. ;)

Date: 2012-02-29 04:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thistle-chaser.livejournal.com
That's funny! Two chili with chocolate comments in a row, I hadn't heard of that before now! Thanks for the link!

Date: 2012-03-05 02:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] seyrah.livejournal.com
You are, unfortunately, very right. And this is not even to mention the cost, for many, of even going to a supermarket that stocks fruits and vegetables. For many in the inner city, it is the seven-eleven, the dollar store, or nothing. Supermarkets thrive in the suburbs where there is lots of cheap space for parking lots. Yes, you can take a bus there and make it out with a few handfuls of grocery bags, but this is not easy, especially when your only time for grocery shopping is on your way home from a long shift and your feet are tired. I can certainly see how McDonald's beckons.

I do not eat fast food, do cook for my family 6-7 days a week, and plan my meals and grocery shopping every week. But I realize how very lucky I am to have the time, resources, and ability to do so. Anyone who doesn't see how this is a privilege is either ignorantly or deliberately blind.

Date: 2012-03-08 07:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] firebyrd.livejournal.com
Yes, this is exactly right. I was going to say that we have a fair number of grocery stores inside our city, though it's fairly small, but as I think about it, most of them are technically outside the city limits. While there is a bus stop directly outside at least one of them, our bus system is 100% terrible, so...I feel for those people who might not have cars. It's got to be terrible, and ours isn't exactly some huge metropolis!

Date: 2012-03-08 03:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saeriellyn.livejournal.com
And then you've got the super-foodies who insist that the only truly healthy way to eat is organic veggies, hormone-free and free-range meats, and specialty grains (gluten-free, exotics like quinoa, etc.) While there is value to all those things and I incorporate them when possible, I don't buy their argument about saving money in the long run on medical bills "because if you eat this way, you'll never be sick!"

Bull. If you eat this way, you'll be too broke to do ANYthing else.

You've hit the nail right on, Ginny. Healthy eating is a privilege of the wealthy and it is a self-repeating problem, because people who grow up eating junk will not develop a taste for healthy food even when it is available to them. Re: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/dec/17/local/la-me-food-lausd-20111218

And Laurie's right, too. The folks who need good food the most have the least access to it. Weird how the industrial age has flipflopped this issue.


Date: 2012-03-08 03:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saeriellyn.livejournal.com
With regard to us regular joes just trying to do what we can, I do find my crock-pot to be a lifesaver. I have more energy and time in the mornings, and if I can plan out my menu enough to throw together a meal that will last us two or three days, I can usually find ways to adjust recipes. I'm a big fan of throwing pureed squash or chopped spinach into spaghetti or pizza sauce. Even the lowly Ramen noodles can be dressed up with a handful of chopped spinach or medley of cooked and chopped carrots, broccoli, lima beans, peas, etc. (And yes, peas and corn might not be the ideal veggie choices, but if the options are no veggies or a few starchy ones, the latter is still providing valuable stuff, even if it's only keeping kids in the habit of eating vegetables.)

Even on days when I don't do the crock, I try to do my meal prep during a time of day when I'm at leisure and have the stamina - again, usually the mornings. It's a lot easier for me to throw together a stir-fry at 6:00 pm if my veggies are already chopped and waiting in the fridge. Come to think of it, I ought to spend a day a week or so just chopping up onions, peppers, etc. and freezing them, ready to go when I need them for stews, seasonings, etc. I'm not by nature that organized! But it does make life a lot easier if I make myself take the time.

Date: 2012-03-08 07:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] firebyrd.livejournal.com
I need to get back into using my crock pot more. Unfortunately, most days I don't /have/ a time of day where I have any stamina. That's part of the problem for us, alas, as I don't have the energy to deal with the prep that vegetables usually require.

Date: 2012-03-11 06:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] seyrah.livejournal.com
Yes! Ramen noodles are great stir-fried with a bag of frozen vegs and a little soy sauce. And I love my crock-pot. I find if I make a big pot of mexican shredded beef or pork (beef/pork roast plus onion, some cumin and chile powder, a can of tomatoes with green chiles, and some white wine, slow-cook 6-8 hours on hi), it will last me nearly a week in various forms--quick burritos, tostadas, tacos, etc. Shredded cheese and canned beans are lifesavers...

Speaking of beans, pinto beans go a long way, too, if you have time to just leave them simmering on the stove for hours.

Date: 2012-03-08 07:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] firebyrd.livejournal.com
I'm amazed by all sorts of things in that article. I'm amazed that they made crazy exotic dishes thinking the kids would eat them. I'm amazed that they developed these dishes and expected the low paid cafeteria workers who probably aren't trained how to actually cook to be able to make them and at the scale required by a school cafeteria. I'm amazed that removing chocolate milk caused /high school/ kids to not drink it. I don't think we even /had/ chocolate milk most days at our high school and we even had a school store that was selling candy and crap! I remember in elementary school we had chocolate milk day once a week and that was it.

Date: 2012-11-11 06:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raidaharbank.livejournal.com
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