Monday, June 21, 2010

Fast Food is NOT Cheaper!

The most disturbing segment on "Food, Inc." was not the cows standing knee-deep in their own manure. It wasn't the scientist engineering the next prepackaged chemical-laden Frankenfood. It wasn't even the chickens who couldn't walk because they got fat so fast their internal organs couldn't keep up. No, I think the most disturbing segment... the one that has been on my mind since my family watched the film with me last night, was the interview with the family who could afford to feed their children burgers and soda but not pears or broccoli.

Why does this disturb me? Because it seems to me the problem was not that they couldn't afford fresh produce. The problem was that they either didn't know how to cook, or they were incapable of planning ahead for meals that they might not have time to cook after work.

The scenario began with this family of four driving through a fast food place. They ordered at least four burgers and a chicken sandwich off the dollar menu, plus two dollar Sprites and a large Dr. Pepper. Their total came to around nine dollars with tax. The mom claimed that this food filled them up the fullest for the price... but they couldn't purchase two pears for a dollar? Hmmmm.
This really bothered me. The older daughter was in a health advocacy group for teens because she was worried about her father's diabetes and the potential for her sister to contract early onset diabetes. What this girl and her family needs is to learn how to cook healthy meals ahead and plan for an entire week at a time

So tonight I though I'd price out our dinner to see if burgers and sodas really were the cheaper alternative. Put my menu where my mouth is, so to speak. Tonight I made a huge chef's salad, French bread from the grocery's bakery, a little organic butter.... and because we had extra kids at the last minute... penne pasta with a little butter, olive oil, garlic, and some chopped herbs from our garden.

Here's the rundown:

Romaine (two heads) $0.40 (they were on sale five for a dollar at Kroger)
1/2 English Cuke- $0.50
1/2 Organic tomato- $0.50
3 Organic free range eggs (boiled) $0.75
1 cup chick peas-$0.50
1 organic carrot (shredded)- $0.10
1 tbsp parmesan cheese- $0.25
1/4 cup Ranch dressing- @$0.50

1/2 loaf French bread- $0.50
butter for bread (brushed on lightly)- $0.25

1/2 package organic penne- $0.75
butter and oil- $0.75
chopped garlic- small pennies
herbs- pennies (from my garden)
salt- almost nothing

Ice Cold water- nothing (unless you count the % of your water bill)

TOTAL: $5.75

Wait a minute!? Did I just claim to feed six people for under six dollars??? Yes, I did. Even if I underestimated the cost of a few of the ingredients, I still fed two more people a much healthier meal for LESS THAN burgers and soda!!!! And, one child had a second plate of salad and my hub had so much on his plate he couldn't finish. Not to mention that there's a plate of pasta and two slices of bread waiting in the fridge for an after-swim snack.

So, the bottom line here is education. People need to be taught how to prepare food ahead of time to meet their time constraints and their bodies' health needs! I know it's tough to go up against these giant corporations who have stolen our food sources and stripped away the health of American citizens... the only place to hit them is in their pocket-book. And the way to start is to learn how to cook, to teach someone how to cook, and to educate communites like Jamie Oliver tried to do with his Food Revolution.

...Oh, and if the excuse is that your kids won't eat the healthier stuff... let them go hungry for a day and see what they will eat! Since when did children get to dictate the dinner menu? Now honestly, my kids have never starved. But if they don't think they will like something that is being served, they are directed to take a "no thank you bite." Do you know how many of our favorite meals have started with a "no thank you bite?" The other route past your childrens' picky taste buds is through the kitchen! If they love to cook, they will love to taste! Today my son was up and cooking (from a kids cookbook) before I even gave him a good morning hug! The outcome? A plate of deviled eggs that were devoured as an afternoon snack!


  1. Yay Melinda! I'm currently doing a cleanse with some friends to see if I can get some health issues under control. It is mostly based on the Paleo diet, with a few tweaks. I am eating fruit, vegies, meat, legumes and nuts only. No sugars of any kind, no dairy, no yeast, no grains. I went shopping on Saturday and loaded my cart with tons of berries (I'm allergic to all other fruits) and vegies. Shockingly, by leaving out the processed stuff and the dairy products I didn't spend any more than I usually do! The food I am eating tastes wonderful, and my body is already healthier in certain ways.

    The hardest part is I crave sugar and carbs. I plan to watch Food Inc soon (hubby hasn't 'let' me watch it yet, says we won't ever want to eat again if we do) as inspiration to continue on this journey.

  2. Christina, that is great! Food can really affect our health in ways we can't even imagine. You'll have to let me know how your cleanse goes as time goes by.

    And indeed, Food, Inc. is a bit of a shocker. But you take from it what you can use, and start with baby steps. We are going to save a bit of our grocery budget each week and set it aside to purchase half of a cow from a local farm in the Fall, and hopefully also some pork. Let me know if you're interested!