Monday, January 22, 2007
My hero, Howard Beale.*
I am not sure what it's going to take to get people worked up about the crappy quality of their food. Education, surely. A little effort. Maybe less time spent in front of the t.v.
I got an email from a dear friend yesterday. (Funny: I had considered using his daughter as an example of the sorry state of meat in this country. They moved back here from France, and he sent her to the meat aisle at their grocery store to pick up some chicken, and she returned saying she couldn't find it. He went to the meat aisle with her and pointed out the chicken. "That's not chicken, that's turkey," she said (in French).)
I have a challenge for you, or I should say, an interesting problem. I’m following your blog rants and nodding so hard my neck is stiff. What’s amazing to me is that there is a need for this discussion.
I’ve heard several debates on this and doing the quick math in my head tells me there is something here worth figuring out.
However here’s the challenge:
Assume two heads of household earning minimum wage each at a full-time, no benefits, job. Assume one has another half-time job eating up evenings, weekends etc. Assume three kids between 10 and 4. Assume this family lives in a place like C_____ (i.e. far from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and maybe even a real truck farmers market). Assume they have one car. Assume whatever patchwork child care is in place consumes a considerable portion of the week’s budget and that the care-givers can not contribute to household chores. Assume there are no huge debts or expensive problems from the past. Assume everyone is healthy but using the clinic for care. Kids are public school and get subsidized breakfast and lunch at school.
Design a menu for one month. Logistics obviously must be accounted for.
No fair inventing a local mom and pop organic grocer who give away food. Kids can’t be relied on as garden tenders. And there’s no cow out back.
I think, frankly, that much has been lost in our access to the "progress" our modern grocery store represents. Finding nutritional, unadulterated food WITHIN a grocery store is also something of an art. And then there's family pressure (kids, relatives) of those who really aren't willing to go along with "new foods." Whole foods take longer to cook. Time's a big issue for people who love their televisions. And then there's that very un-American thing: cooking! Cooking without opening a can or a package, cooking without the microwave. Cooking has also died a slow death, despite the rise of cooking shows on t.v.
So I don't know how to respond to my friend's challenge. Do you?
*he of the movie Network, and the tirade "I want you to go to the window, open it, stick your heads out and yell, 'I'm as mad as Hell, and I'm not gonna take this anymore!'" The problem with Mr. Beale of course is that he ranted and ranted, and then nobody wished to listen to him after a while.