Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Taxes and Subsidies and is Eating Well Elitist?

If you have been around here for a while you know that I am a fan of Mark Bittman.  (Just search this blog with his name and you'll get the idea.) His cookbook, How to Cook Everything was eye opening for me. I learned how to do all sorts of things and cook some fantastically simple and splendid food. He also pretty well. And I have loved reading his articles in the New York Times as he has lobbied and pushed for whole and unprocessed food. This latest piece, "Bad Food? Tax it and Subsidize Vegetables" was right up there for me.

I've seen so many people scoff at local produce and whole foods as being elitist, since you really can pay more per calorie for whole foods (complete, unprocessed foods) than you do for processed and refined calories. Surely something is wrong with this picture. Why do I pay more for whole grains than stripped down, bleached, bromated and fortified ones? Especially in the cereal isle. It frustrates me endlessly.
Link over and read the article. Bittman has some great ideas that I would LOVE to see happen. And tell me what you think. Do you think that eating well comes off as elitist?


  1. It is so hard to eat well for cheap! We are blessed with the food stamps program while my husband is working part time and attending school full time, and it is so stinkin' hard to eat fresh, and "for real" healthy things under the budget they give you! I wish the government would recognize that just because you are on the food stamps program, it doesn't mean that you don't know how to eat healthy and have a desire for your family to be healthy, too! I wish there was some kind of a process to determine which people would use their benefits wisely so some of us could get more for more healthy food! I look forward to when hubby is done with school and can have a career!

  2. "Why do I pay more for whole grains than stripped down, bleached, bromated and fortified ones?"
    It comes down to 2 things: culture and economies of scale. We're trained to perceive spongy smooth pure white products as being more delectable, and it's cheaper to process the entire strain of product in one way. It's also cheaper to grind all the grain at once and store the flour rather than grind as needed ... and flour doesn't last long enough in that state unless the product is relatively preserved beyond normal (thus killing much of the nutritional benefit).

    And I think elitism is often only in the mind of those who perceive it ... kind of a populist reverse-elitism if you may ... for example "I'm better than you because I'm not a food snob".

    That's caused by insecurity. Many if not most people are threatened and take it personally when others insult their choice of eating. Accurate information delivered effectively, non-judgmentally and respectfully is the most tool for removing these bad social dynamics.

    You can legislate until you're blue in the face, but you won't get people out of the food slums without getting the food slum out of the people, and until you do that it will always be an uphill battle. It starts in our schools ... not in health class but in the cafeteria. Our schools are saying one thing and doing another. That's the root of the problem. Fix that, and you fix the nation.

  3. Caitlin- Good news for you and anyone else using government supplemental food programs- many, many farmer's markets are accepting SNAP, WIC, and EBT benefits. And often they are incentivized too- additional amounts are often given out to increase your buying power for local, in season produce. And that money is going directly to the grower instead of a grocery store, meaning more money for the farmer to keep doing what they are doing. I couldn't find a national listing- each state and city has their own- but here is a listing of all of the farmer's markets in Maryland and each one specifies what benefits they accept, can deduct from your account in the amount you specify and give you tokens, just like people who use their ATM cards at farmers' markets do- to spend at each stand. All the best to you in your efforts to eat well. I'm sure you are doing great.

    YOWOP- Thanks for your comments. It is funny how people have become conditioned to prefer white flour that has no sustenance. I know we can be conditioned to feel the opposite and prefer whole grains when you know what they do for you, appreciate the taste and respect that food is pretty much perfect the way God made it.

    I totally agree with your last paragraph and know schools are the place to make that change- I hope it comes soon. I feel obligated to be involved in that.

  4. I wonder too if it has to do with shelf life??

    these comments are all great too. I will go read that article now! (and skip the unpacking)

  5. and also, I don't necessarily think whole foods and farmers market are elitist, but maybe buying all organic seems that way. I have heard comments from some when I pull out organic milk or other products. Or if you ONLY shop at certain markets (whole foods comes to mind). I think that may have a connotation similar to what you describe.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.