Is Junk Food Cheaper than Real Food?


THE “fact” that junk food is cheaper than real food has become a reflexive part of how we explain why so many Americans are overweight, particularly those with lower incomes. I frequently read confident statements like, “when a bag of chips is cheaper than a head of broccoli …” or “it’s more affordable to feed a family of four at McDonald’s than to cook a healthy meal for them at home.”

This is just plain wrong. In fact it isn’t cheaper to eat highly processed food: a typical order for a family of four — for example, two Big Macs, a cheeseburger, six chicken McNuggets, two medium and two small fries, and two medium and two small sodas — costs, at the McDonald’s a hundred steps from where I write, about $28. (Judicious ordering of “Happy Meals” can reduce that to about $23 — and you get a few apple slices in addition to the fries!)

(Read the rest of this post here.)
Posted in Food Politics, Slow Food

An Open Letter to An Unnamed Chef


We – I and eight friends – are at a beach house in southern Florida; half of the group is European, and for a variety of reasons they wanted to come here. I feel like saying “don’t blame me, I’m from Massachusetts,” even though I’m not.

Mostly we’re cooking – and I’ll write about that – but there was a funky Caribbean restaurant we wanted to check out last night, only it was closed. By the time we discovered this, it was psychologically if not literally too late to cook, so I was assigned the task of figuring out a nearby place to eat. Through the miracle of Chowhound, Yelp, and other you-be-the-judge sites, I picked what appeared to be an eclectic, trendy new place by a known local chef.

Locals will figure out where I went; I’m trying not to damage a perhaps well-deserved reputation on the basis of one visit to an obviously new and still-wrinkly restaurant. But there were some disturbing trends here, and they’re widespread, not only nationally but globally. (Fortunately they’re not nearly universal. But they’re scary.)

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Posted in Behind The Scenes

This #$!% Has Got to Stop: Part Three


[Barbra Walton, our first outside contributor to This #$!% Has Got to Stop, is a software engineer in a small town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. One of her grandmothers cooked at early 20th century logging camps, and the other started her local food co-op. She has cooking in her bones, and is expecting her dry-cured chorizo to be ready any minute. Meanwhile, she sent us this piece. – mb]

I couldn’t help but think of your two “This has got to stop” articles when I saw the current Wendy’s commercial for their “Spicy Chipotle Boneless Wings.”

The catch phrase at the end of the Wendy’s commercial for their Spicy Chipotle Boneless Wings is “You know when it’s real.” Well, yeah, I do. And I know that chicken wings aren’t made of white breast meat, nor are “real” chicken wings boneless. And, in reading over the ingredient list (below), I know that I don’t’ need to add “chicken flavor” to chicken to make it taste good, nor do I need to add the volume of salt, sugar, and flavorings to make “real” chicken. Continue reading

Posted in Food Politics