Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Pieties From The Privileged

 This rant was brewing weeks before Bittman's latest crap about how bad the oatmeal at McDonald's is. Sure it's not organic steel cut oats garnished with locavore honey and fruit, but it's a step in the right direction in families where chips and soda really are common meals for kids. Getting just the IDEA of oatmeal is a step forward. Time then to start saying "Okay, this is something, but it could be a lot better"

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 sermon column to agree and explain their own perfect, healthy lifestyles and to decry the people out there who eat fast food, processed food, non-organic produce, etcetera.

"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.

1 comment:

De said...

I'm glad you posted this, because I know you don't like Mark Bittman, but because I agree with his opinion about processed and fast food and I know that you favor healthier eating, I wondered why he makes you so furious.

Sometimes, I need the dots connected. Every single day I am grateful that I have a car and a washing machine in my house because of the freedom and convenience, but I never developed the thought to include what else I would not be able to do if I had to get around by bus or go to the laundromat. I'd be in even more trouble if I were stuck out on a farm, surrounded by food and completely unable to make anything edible with it!

You reminded me of the Indian woman I worked with last year. Her husband was Hindi and she cooked traditional vegetarian food for him, but she and her children LOVED to eat junk food and fast food.

As far as what is available in the market, like bras, we have so many offerings that are really no good for anyone and I don't understand why these products are even produced. The law of supply and demand no longer seems to apply - just look at all the Dollar Stores popping up on every corner (where there used to be a Mom & Pop store) filled with CRAP.

Gah - Now I gotta go make dinner. The kids asked for hot dogs and they're getting them.