I am cross posting this as well at "The Library Lady Cooks"
I am really, REALLY tired of Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan and every other "foodie" who piously pontificates in the NY Times about healthy eating.
I am even more tired of their Greek chorus of synchophants who chime in after every
"People are just too lazy to cook," they smugly opine. "Poor people can EASILY eat a healthier diet. In Third World countries people eat mostly fruits, grains and vegetables." Etcetera, etcetera.
Well, foodies, let me clue you in to a few realities that don't penetrate North of Central Park or out of the sort of Brooklyn neighborhood where my brother's family lives, or out of the rich suburban/urban sorts of neighborhoods the Washington Post now pitches their Wednesday food section to:
Cooking is WORK. I love it, and I can do it efficiently and quickly, and so can anyone else with practice.
But it takes planning--first to have items in the house--which means shopping--and it means meal planning. No matter what end of the process you put it at, time is involved. Time that can be precious if you work a 8-10 hour work day and then come home with kids in tow who need entertainment, homework assignment help and clean clothes for tomorrow!
Third Worlders eat lots of fruits, veggies and grains because they have ACCESS to them. That's what's in the little market they WALK to near their house, that's what's in their local stores and that's what's AFFORDABLE. And yes, they cook from scratch because that's what everyone does. There aren't a billion fast food choices or prepackaged foods out there as an option.
On the other hand, if you step out of the bubble and go to any community here where there are plenty of third world immigrants you will find the stores loaded with the same packaged processed foods available in any supermarket, plus a ton of other stuff. Try checking the package for a curry mix or some ramen noodles and see that they are loaded with salt, fat and chemicals. Look at the sweets aisle and find tons of candies and cookies loaded with high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, etc.
And these are IMPORTED items I am talking about. Not American brands--Filipino brands, Korean brands, Indian brands, etc....
Go into an inner city neighborhood-- if you dare. Go into the corner markets and see if they are chock full of fresh vegetables, fruits and healthy grains. See if you can find any pure fruit juices or organic baby food. Somehow I doubt it.
The foodies are starting at the top and preaching to the choir. But where we need to start out is at the bottom, with the poorest of the poor.
When they have local easily accessible markets with fresh, affordable produce (and people to teach them how to cook it quickly and easily), when community gardens are a basic in every community, not a luxury, when kids learn to cook and eat healthy foods in school and bring that knowledge home to their parents, then perhaps McDonalds will have fewer customers and the processed food aisles in the store will dwindle.
Until then, Bittman, Pollan & Co will continue their pieties about a healthy diet. Their followers will sneer at the ignorance and laziness of those less privileged then themselves and wax nostalgic for their impoverished childhoods where their mothers did it all with no money.
And our school kids will continue to prefer french fries to baked potatoes,drink sodas at breakfast and grow up to be over weight, poorly nourished adults.