11 Responses to “The Bottom Line in Food Choices”

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  1. Excellent point! I see people in my community every day who eat at fast food places because they are cheap and they can feed their kids off the dollar menu. It is very difficult to eat a healthy balanced diet when you don’t have much money. I feel very lucky to be able to afford fresh fruits and vegetables and quality meats (though I still can’t bring myself to pay as much as grass-fed costs).

    It is really crazy that the government subsidizes corn to an incredible degree (much of which goes into junk food or to be made into high fructose corn syrup) and yet healthy vegetables are expensive. All of us who care about healthy food should also care about how to get it to those who can’t afford it right now.

  2. Meg

    Hi Cara–yeah the corn subsidies are at the root of a lot of food evil, no doubt about it. Agribusiness works just like any other corporation, structured to squeeze the maximum amount of profit out of our natural resources. Another issue is the way subsidies and business practices tilt the cost of what we truly need in favor of what corporations force us to buy under the illusion we are buying what we truly need.

    We truly need real food. Big business forces us to buy s%^t, but tell us it’s real food. A lot of wising up needs to happen.

  3. Excellent post, Meg. I am very concerned with the state of our food system. While I follow the more expensive almost all-organic, mostly vegan diet in my attempts to support this quality of food, I understand that food access is a huge issue.

    There are a some great ideas out there for improving access to fresh, organic produce for the poor – Alemany Farm in SF is a community farm situated in a low-income housing area, providing residents with the opportunity to volunteer on the farm while taking home their freshly harvested produce. Though during my volunteer trips there, none of the residents chose to work there. Perhaps it is a lack of radical inclusion or public education that prevents these people from taking advantage of the free and fresh produce nearby.

    Additionally, SF also has a weekly Free Farm Stand that takes leftover produce from various farmer’s markets and community farms around town and gives it away.

    These are only two ways of incorporating the poor into organic produce, and are made possible due to the vibrant sustainable food culture in SF. There are a few others in the Bay Area that work to help alleviate food insecurity in the poor through gardening/farming. So, I don’t know if these ideas would be practical or viable in other parts of the country.

    Of course, it would be real nice if our government stopped kissing agribusiness ass and started putting some substantial money to sustainable agriculture and food access.

    Thanks again for a thought-provoking article.

    • Meg

      Thanks for the input, Lynn. California and other states with temperate climates can indeed set up direct fresh-food and gardening programs. It’s a lot harder to do in much of the Midwest–even our peak-season markets have a very limited range of veggies and fruit. One thing I have noted about people’s choices in food is the deadening impact bad choices have on personal growth and self-preservation.

      For instance, food with a bad impact on one’s blood-sugar level can literally make one dull and unwilling to put either mental or physical energy into proper shopping or food preparation. Even those of us who have pretty good diets have felt the fatigue that hits around the time to make dinner, when we look at the gorgeous fresh veggies in the fridge and instead of being happy to see them we think, “oh s%^t, I’ve gotta go through all that washing, cutting, cooking, so let’s see what else there is…yeah! Frozen pizza! I’ll do the veggies tomorrow.” And then tomorrow never comes and the produce rots, all because we’re sapped of energy, too tired to focus. People who don’t have good diets tend to feel like this all the time. Why garden for food that doesn’t taste right to a mouth ruined by HFCS when it’s easier to pull some crap out of the freezer and microwave it? Thus bad food contributes to a cycle of bad health and more bad choices.

      • It’s true, it’s sort of a trap in a vicious cycle, mostly caused by an excessive work schedule. The first thing that would help is to reduce the number of working hours, perhaps reduce the CEO pay in a large corporation so that more money can go around.

        I also have to concede that as someone without a family I have the time to volunteer at community farms, something that a busy working person with children to feed might not have the time or energy to pursue.

  4. Christa

    Great Article, as a mother of four with just husbands income, we have been struggling with this battle on a weekly basis. I know what we should eat, and what we want to eat, we simply can’t afford to. I have finally said, we will avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup and Partially Hydrogenated Soybean oil no matter what, as for the rest the prices will have to be lowered before we can do it. I feel guilty not serving organics and grass fed beef to my children, but we have to pay the bills and avoid debt at the same time. I am so glad there are others out there that feel the same way.

    • Meg

      That’s the page we’re on, too, Christa, as are many, many other people I know. We’re not acting out of ignorance, but out of having to choose the lesser of two evils. That’s not a great foundation for our relationship to our food, so anything we can do to minimize negative elements is to our credit. You’re doing just that by saying no to HFCS and PHSO. Onwards and upwards!

  5. Hi Meg,

    Like so many others I’d love buy only high quality organic food, but the prices almost always send me right back to the same old conventional produce and pasta. I eat really well as it is, but I often wonder what changes I might see if I ate pure, organic, and mostly raw. I’m doing my first large-scale garden this fall and maybe I’ll kiss grocery store produce goodbye!!

    It’s funny though, while I stare wistfully at the $5/lb organic heirloom tomatoes at Whole Foods, I always buy my pets top-of-the-line petfood! I know it’s because they eat so little compared to me that I feel I can afford it for them but not for myself, but the irony still gets me sometimes. 🙂

    Dena

    • Meg

      Dena, we just have one cat, but I buy IAMS urinary tract formula for her. She’s always been healthy, but I once had a cat with the UT problems, and it was horrible. So I consider it a big savings in time and misery for both me and the cat. Is this stupid not to do the same for myself and my husband? But like you say, the pet eats so little compared to us. Irony, indeed.

  6. Meg B.

    Amen, and AMEN.