A food rant.

6 01 2011

Every time the obesity epidemic (media’s words, not mine) comes up, there will be at least one person claiming fast food is the real, ultimate villain, making everyone’s BMI shoot sky-high.  “Why, if it weren’t for the fact that fast food is just so much cheaper than fresh produce, poor/middle-class people would be so much healthier!”  This seems to be a popular way to rationalize higher average weights in lower-income social brackets.  Terms like “food deserts” get tossed around in a bunch of high horse bloviating that financially comfortable people seem to excel at. (On a side note, “food desert” makes me lol.  I think of the Family Guy episode where Stewie and Brian are in the desert and they see the soda machine mirage.  Also makes me think of a Tiny Tim-esque little kid on the corner in New York City screaming, “HELP!  HELP!  I CAN’T FIND ANY BANANAS!”)

So, this attitude has always bothered me.  For the past two and a half years, I lived on a very tight budget.  My income was under nine grand a year, and a shocking portion of that went to my monthly rent.  My food budget was very low, so I was forced to be mindful of prices on everything I bought.  What did I find during my time of highly controlled spending?  I found that produce is far and away cheaper than meals at McDonald’s. That’s right, getting a burger at Wendy’s was a treat for me.  I can tell you the prices on foods I liked to have when I went to these places: a Mcdonald’s 10-piece nugget combo is 5.79, before meal tax and/or sales tax.  A 1/4 lb. single combo at Wendy’s is 5.69.  At Burger King, I’d get a two cheeseburger value meal (no cheese, please), and after tax and student discount, that was 5.24.  I would finagle the people to give me my boyfriend at the time’s 10% student discount.  Fifty cent actually made a difference for me.  Even value menu ordering is somewhat expensive.  True, a McD’s 10-piece nuggets is 3.69 while three 4-piece orders is just three bucks, but once you factor in a soda and some fries (or the admittedly delicious apple dippers), it’s still going to run you quite a bit.  5.50 for one meal is quite expensive.

To further my point, I pulled up this week’s Wegmans (a Western NY-based upscale supermarket) flyer for my area.  Let’s see what’s on special!

  • 8 lb. (!) Club Pack Navel Oranges, 4.99
  • 5 lb. bag Florida Grapefruit, 2.99
  • 8 lb. (!) Club Pack Apples, 5.99
  • 3-pk. Cucumbers, 3.99
  • 6 pk. Wegmans-brand whole wheat english muffins, 2.69
  • Club Packs 80/20 Ground Beef, 2.49/lb.
  • Club Packs 90/10 (ooh, lean!) Ground Beef, 1.99/lb.
  • Wegmans-brand in-pkg steamable frozen veggies, 16 oz., .99
  • Wegmans-brand fruit on the bottom low-fat yogurts, .40/ea

Some of those prices may seem high at first glance, but when you think about how many apples eight pounds actually is, it’s dirt cheap.  “Club Pack” is basically a family pack– I believe 3+ pounds.  Ground beef is excellent for freezing in small packages.  My mom, my boyfriend and I will sometimes brown two pounds of beef for tacos, and we almost always have enough left after taco night for a complete second meal.  We buy the 90/10, so at 1.99/lb., that’s about 67 cents per person.  I abosolutely love the steam-in-package veggies, too.  We’re big vegetable eaters, so we’ll go through a pound package in a meal, but that’s only 33 cents per person.  So even with the beef and the veg, the tally’s only at a buck per person.

I enjoy the occasional fast food meal, but one cannot deny that what I just described beats the pants off of McD’s in both price and flavor.  So why is it, then, that people constantly claim fast food is a cheaper alternative?  I will admit that I don’t know what other parts of the nation pay for their groceries.  I know that, at times, in Maine, it could get pretty pricey (especially the meat and milk).  Even at the highest price point, though, it was still noticeably cheaper than grabbing a burger somewhere.

And through all my delicious (and oft low-fat/carb) meals, I am still fat.  When I moved from Western New York to Maine, my eating habits drastically improved, due to my limited income, and yet I lost no noticeable poundage.  So, media, chew on THAT.  I had less money, so I ate better, AND I lost no weight for doing it.

For a myriad of reasons, the family sitting down to a meal together is mostly a thing of the past in the States.  People don’t buy McDonald’s for their kids because it’s cheaper, they buy it because it’s all they have the time or energy to do after their longer-than-average work day, or in between jobs.  Maybe they don’t care about their kids.  Maybe they care immensely about their kids, and their kids are begging them for a Big Mac.  There is no one answer as to why people give their kids fast food.  I don’t even really find it to be all that much of a travesty that people feed their offspring fast food.  I do think that we should be honest, though, when we complain about all of this stuff.

Cooking at home is cheaper than fast food.  Sitting down to a meal as a unit can have positive effects (not talking about weight here at all).  If people are going to complain, can’t they at least complain about it in the right way?

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A Vignette

18 09 2009

Yesterday I stopped, as I usually do, at the Wendy’s in Augusta, near campus.  Class gets out at 6:45, and it makes more sense to have dinner BEFORE the drive back to Bangor, rather than ravenously devouring a Pop Tart or something ridiculous just past 8pm.  I always go in, because the staff generally isn’t used to someone wanting a Completely Plain Double Stack Yes That’s Right No Cheese.

So, anyway, I’m in there waiting for my food, and the slightly chunky young man who was operating the fryer was chatting to everyone.  The restaurant was pretty dead, seeing as Augusta shuts down at roughly 4:45.  He says, “You guys.  My doctor was SO mean to me.  He goes, ‘You’re fat.  You need your cholesterol checked.’ Just like that!  How rude is that?!”  So, I smirk and say, “Did you have it checked?”

“No…but he wants me to.”

I said, “Go ahead, do it.  Doctors do the same to me, but mine is normal, even low.  It shocks them!  If yours is in the normal range, he’ll be wrong and you can rub it in his face!”

He flashes this bring grin at me, and EVERYONE up front starts laughing appreciatively.  “Yeah, I think I’ll do that,” he replied.

I left in a pretty good mood.





Thoughts on 2009 and Resolutions

13 01 2009

Wow, it’s been quite some time since I’ve written.  I was out of town for over two weeks for the Holiday season, so things were just hectic.  This is honestly one of the first days I have had where I can sit down and really write– I’ve been back for some time, but the apartment really needed a good once-over, and I am STILL catching up on dishes.  All the while, my blog has been at the back of my mind, with a few things I’d like to talk about.

I know that around the Fat Acceptance blogs, New Year’s Resolutions are not a popular concept.  I know that I can barely make it through January with a sound mind, what with all the weight loss ads.  It’s gotten to the point that I have not watched TV for the past two weeks.  For the most part, I find the resolutions many people make to be self-damaging and almost doomed to failure.  People pledge to lose ten pounds, or to eat only salads, or what have you– why?  Most of the time, it feels like, the reason is so they can be considered more attractive, or that losing those ten pounds will fix their lives.  Fueled with post-holiday overindulgence, they sulk in their leafy greens at the company lunch table, saying things like, “Oh, I was sooooo baaaad at Christmas!”

Why do we do this to ourselves?  If people (women especially) were not constantly denying themselves things or foods they loved, perhaps they would not go so incredibly overboard on the pumpkin pie.  Actually, even if they DO have three slices of pie, the world is not going to end.  It may be a common sentiment, but I really feel that women as a whole could contribute so much more were they not bogged down with the pressure to diet and have a svelte little physique.

This all brings me to my resolutions.  Yes, I make them and I think the right KINDS of resolutions are not harmful.  I think resolutions that will truly better your soul or health (and no, I don’t mean “UR FAT UR GON’ DIE” health) are a great thing.  As far as health and what I mean by that, n example would be a diabetic pledging to test their blood sugar regularly to better manage it.  People who pledge to donate time to charities are also making good resolutions.  My resolutions?  Well, they’re small ones.  I would love to be in a position where I could be taking the time to give to charity, but right now, I AM the charity, I think.  My first huge resolution is to find a job.  I have decided to redouble my efforts, overhaul my resume and go door-to-door if I have to.  It’s been just over five months since I’ve moved up here, and the outlook is still bleak.  I’ve been fighting depression about it– it’s been getting harder to even apply for jobs on the rare occasion I see them, because I feel like I’ll just get rejected.  I have resolved to not let this get me down, and to keep on keepin’ on.

My second resolution is somewhat related to the first.  I’m trying to take better care of myself.  I tend to get angry about a lot of small things, which is probably not too good for me.  I’ve never been able to figure out if getting angry about smaller things has been a decent way to vent my anger, and thus making me less angry overall, or if I’m just stressing myself out for no reason.  I have always been somewhat of an angry person.  I get pretty bad road rage at certain things, and I’ll generally swear if I drop something.  So, I’m going to make a conscious effort to control my anger more.  Deep breaths, you know.  I’ve also decided to finally bite the bullet and go back to the gym.  I think the lowered level of physical activity has made me more jumpy, and I find myself itching to go out and do something.  Lastly, I’m trying to eat more veggies and fruit.  That one should be obvious.  I’m very tired of almost completely depending on multivitamins.

So, here’s to 2009 being a good year for everyone.





Uh-Oh! Bed Bath & Beyond knows women can’t control themselves!

28 10 2008

This morning, I went out front to grab the mail. The only thing in there was this week’s Bed Bath & Beyond circular. Seeing as I am still without employment, I took an idle and semi-uninterested glance at the cover. Immediately, I felt shock and disgust course through my system.

Let’s break it down. You’ve got three pictures of beautifully plated and prepared foods in chafing dishes and on a tiered dessert plate: turkey breast with sparingly drizzled gravy and whole cranberries, meatballs (or stuffing? It’s hard to tell), asparagus and carrots (one with a small amount of cheese and onions, the other with onions and…squash rind or something), and finally, mini cheesecakes, some kind of chocolate cream poof, and petits fours. These three panels each read “yumm,” each panel with one more “m” in the word than the last. The fourth panel is a pair of women’s feet on a digital scale, which reads “UH-OH.” The added text reads “…YIKES!”

Perhaps you can see where I’m going with this? First, of COURSE it will be a woman on the scale. On occasion I will see males used in weight-related jokes or schemes, but nine times out of ten, it’s a woman. Let’s rewind a second and look at most of the food. Lean turkey (breast). Carrots. Cranberries, Asparagus. This is healthy food. Yes, there is some cheese and gravy present, but the amount shown wouldn’t even reach the bottom of the chafing dish. Yes, I think we can all agree that there’s nothing reduced-calorie about the desserts, but they are also seemingly small in size. Even having one of each variety is not going to result in a catastrophic weight gain. And even if you do gain five pounds, is “YIKES” appropriate? Seriously? Your world is not going to crumble.

This circular’s cover reminds me of magazines like Woman’s Day: a picture of a beautiful cake on the front, with the headline, “LOSE 23 POUNDS WITH POWER WALKING!” Translation: make a cake for your family while you eat celery and work out every day. Or the Special K ad where a mother and child are icing a cake. The mother goes to lick some cake batter from her finger, and then a voice comes on: “you’re about to undo your whole day.” With a lick of cake batter, really? Oh yes, puffed rice flakes with tiny bricks of vegetable oil and chocolate flavoring is really on par with cake batter. That’ll DEFINITELY get rid of your craving.

It’s sickening how often women around food is correlated with some kind of lack of control. Women are bad drivers, women are too emotional, women can’t have a normal relationship with food. NATURALLY, if a woman is around a dessert plate, she will eat ALL of the items, resulting in a weight gain (shown on her shiny new digital scale) that will surely end her life. The reality is that a plate of the food shown on this circular would not greatly affect one’s weight. And then, at the notion it MIGHT cause one’s weight to increase, negative imagery is used. ‘Cuz, y’know, God forbid. You might get the Diabeetus.