Long rant, and let me preemptively say I’m not a Republicrat. Or a Democan.
I just ate one of my regular “Strive For Five” staples: Lentil soup with stir-fry vegetable medley. Basically, I heat up two big cans of lentil soup, and throw in a bag of frozen vegetables. Once heated, I eat some and put the rest in a tupperware. The whole shebang costs about $5.60 after tax, and totals 10 servings of vegetables.
$5.60 for 10 servings of vegetables.
That’s a serving for the price of a cheap candy bar. The average daily recommendation (not sure I buy in to the whole “recommendation” thing, but let’s set that aside for now) costs less than $2. Where did I find such a great deal? WalMart.
I’ve been toying with the idea of keeping a food journal for two reasons. One, Iris and I have recently decided we’d give the whole “daily vegetable recommendation” thing a go. According to the CDC, I should be consuming 2.5 cups of fruit, 4 cups of vegetables per day. The fruit is no problem, but that’s a lot of veggies. As long as it’s tasty, I don’t care, and I’m curious to see if/how it e(a?)ffects my daily life.
The other reason I’d like to keep a food journal is to make a point: it is more cost-effective to eat healthy than not. By “healthy,” I don’t mean top of the line organic fru fru sold to people with more money than sense who want to “feel good” about their economic choices, but healthy for poor people. While our bills get paid on time, cost cutting is always welcome in this household. I imagine a cheaper food bill would be welcome in most homes in my county, the poorest in the state (Rockingham, NC).
Let’s back up a bit. One day when I was visiting my brother in Flagstaff, the tv was on in the background. They were watching Food, Inc. I’ve heard it’s a great documentary, but I get a wiff of politics from it. Whenever things get political, I tend to glaze over and lose all comprehension skills, thinking about unicorns and puppy dogs. It’s a medical condition I choose to let remain untreated. So I’ll probably never watch it. But, I did hear a snippet that warrants comment. A woman said something to the effect of “how am I supposed to choose between feeding my kids healthy food or paying for my husband’s diabetes medication?” Sorry, I know life is expensive, but I call BS. I still need to collect more receipts to figure how much I pay for rice, pasta, other veggies, fruits, meat, and of course, beer. I have a hunch that I spend less per meal than I would at McDonald’s or even a frozen dinner. And with not much more effort, which brings me to the next point:
Ladies, I respect you as equals. I strongly believe you as individuals have every right to shape your identity however you choose. My disposition is no doubt largely attributed to the women’s liberation movement, etc, but I think a whole bunch of babies have been thrown out with the bathwater of sexism. Let that image sit for a moment. Back? OK, let’s continue. Let’s discuss Home Economics class. Chances are, you didn’t have one unless you’re at least 50 years old. Why no classes in public schools to teach children how to cook? Fear of reinforcing gender stereotypes, in part. Boys lost shop class, too. Education became focused on steering children towards careers in the white collar world, where the cooking and fixing are considered tasks for the lower classes, who are more likely to embrace gender stereotypes and “traditional” duties. Personally, I think it would have been better to continue offering both classes to whoever wants to take them, even if it were to result in some gender division. Or better yet, maybe we should just consider the separation of school and state altog…garrrgh ack blech… puppies!
But here’s the problem: if you want to be healthy, you either have to be rich enough to have someone prepare your meals for you, OR YOU NEED TO LEARN HOW TO COOK. If you never learned because you’re a woman and don’t want to “demean” yourself and by goddess you’re going to be ruler of the free world one day yes I do indeed hear you roar, fine. But you’re falsely associating a necessary skill with attitudes of the past. And if you’re a dude, get over yourself and learn to cook. Stop blaming McDonald’s for the dietary choices YOU make, you smug self-righteous logic-phobic jerk of a man.
What? More? OK, since I have my soap box out. “Don’t I need the more expensive veggies and such for better health?” No. Nutritionally speaking, frozen generic vegetables are pretty much the same as fresh. Loss of nutrients can usually be attributed to how you cook, which, if you learned to cook in the first place, you would know. “What about taste?” Sure, raw veggies and fruits taste best fresh from the tree, but it’s not like the preservation process renders them inedible. And there’s no difference in sauces and such. Remember, the lady in Food Inc said her kids eat crappy food because it’s all she can afford. Not because frozen strawberries lack the inebriating ecstasy of biting into one fresh from the Cackalacky patch. One of those will cost you $9/tray, btw. French fries cost more per serving than even the localvoriest of localvore products, if you’re into that kind of thing.
And then there’s this bit of inconvenience. Seems like WalMart products hold their own just fine in taste tests. So whatever beef you may have with WalMart, they’ve figured out how to supply tasty, healthy, and CHEAP food to the poorest regions in the country. It’s not their fault people are buying Hot Pockets instead. They can eat the crap they’re used to, and blame corporations for the health problems that result. And healthy people encourage and perpetuate this mentality, because it makes them feel superior, “caring (oh, those poor unhealthy people. We must help them!),” and further justifies blind hatred of corporatiogarble mmmph… kittens!
So barefoot connection: in part, I run barefoot because of my ambition to be a smart consumer. I don’t want to buy into hype and bs. If you’re poor, it’s all the more important to be a smart and skeptical consumer. Don’t buy crap you don’t need, like empty promises of better health ($$organic$$) or dietary apathy (I can only afford to feed my family fast food). Keep it simple stupid. Eat healthy, and put your savings in a savings account.