I’ve sensed disinterest from the reader-world on my topic of food experimentation, and I think I understand why. Making compromises between high quality, ethically cognizant foods (in sleek, sexy packaging) and time-efficient, cost effective, highly available products, is part of our daily routine! Most of us constantly make decisions that allow us to balance our schedules, checkbooks and diets; we choose cheap crackers one week and organic almonds the next. Especially in light of the economy, weighing costs and benefits is key! (That rhyme was intentional – tell your friends.)
Therefore, to summarize, my problem with Michael Pollan’s food recommendations is that we can sit around and debate the evils of corporate America all day – pointing fingers and condemning chemicals – and it still won’t change the fact that millions of Americans are going to bed hungry tonight.
This morning I was in the library when a man approached me; disheveled, disoriented and very friendly. He told me he was from Mexico but now was homeless – sleeping outside. Making conversation, he asked me “You like jalapeño peppers? They’re my favorite. If you’re hungry you eat a jalapeño pepper and spice fills your stomach up!”
I could have pointed out the environmental impact and corporate appeasement of purchasing his cheap, bottled jalapeños instead of locally grown peppers available at the Farmer’s Market, but that would be absolutely ridiculous. Instructions to eat five whole fruits a day or meals with “variety” are similarly irrelevant to millions of Americans who live in “food deserts” with no access to grocery stores. Five hundred forty calories or not, if McDonalds is the only restaurant in your neighborhood, a BigMac is what you will eat. Hunger is not always starving children in impoverished countries; it is also malnourished kids in your own neighborhood.
But I want to put my rant on Pollan’s neglect to address the reality of local hunger aside and re-focus on you. As part of my experiment, I made exciting discoveries about realistic, healthy and cheap grocery options:
1. At 69 cents a pound, oatmeal is an extremely inexpensive and nutritious breakfast.