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This is not my New Year’s resolution

I don’t make them. But I will lose more weight this year. Out of fear.

I was just at the grocery store, standing in the check-out line, which has become a gauntlet of terror. It’s the magazines.

Today, it was Paula Deen, round-cheeked and grinning, teeth bleached white, eyes like cold blue LEDs, photoshopped into perfectly plasticky plump grandmotherliness — a grandma with the complexion of an irradiated sixteen year old, glowing and sparkling — and she was holding a bowl of livid yellow macaroni and cheese that was bigger than her head. And I said to myself, this is the new face of death. And I said to myself, this is the American face of death, the death of viscid excess, the death that ends not in bones, but a quivering mass of adipocere. And I said to myself, don’t piss yourself, Myers, but that’s goddamn terrifying.

And I thought about buying that magazine and pasting that freakishly leering face on my refrigerator, but decided that placing a potent ward in my kitchen that would cause me to starve to death instead probably wasn’t a good idea.

But this is not a New Year’s resolution.

Tomorrow, it’ll probably be the Kardashians, and I’ll vow to Read More Books; or closeups of some starlet’s cellulite, and I’ll vow to be Less Superficially Judgmental; or creepy weepy exposes of a dying actor’s final hours, and I’ll vow to Crawl into a Cave When it’s my Time to Die. You can learn a lot from the supermarket checkout line, but mainly you learn that there’s a side of humanity that makes a fellow ashamed to be a humanist.

Comments

  1. says

    This makes my use of self-checkout at the market more than a convenience! I get to skip the many nasty sides of being human, too.

    Resolutions? Never did ‘em, declared them stupid when I was a kid.

  2. thewhollynone says

    Me, too. But it’s not a New Year’s resolution either. Ha! Last year I gained 10 pounds instead of losing the five that I had planned. It is the fault of the internet; sitting in front of this computer does not burn many calories; may have to cut back on that.

    I dare you, PZ, to lose 10 pounds before the vernal equinox, and keep it off until the summer solstice. I am at 160 this morning and counting. Will you take an old lady’s dare?

  3. chigau (私も) says

    I think I should try to put on a few pounds kilograms this year.
    Muscle not fat.

  4. ringo says

    Caine, the self-scans at the grocery store I work at recently had magazine stands added to them so that may not continue to be true.

  5. says

    Ringo:

    Caine, the self-scans at the grocery store I work at recently had magazine stands added to them so that may not continue to be true.

    Oh sad. Here, the market we go to doesn’t even have magazine stands on the sides of the check-outs, they’re in the front, so they are easy enough to ignore even when it comes to service check-out.

  6. chigau (私も) says

    Glen Davidson

    My resolution: More butter.

    What are you planning on using the butter for?

  7. says

    In those rare times I bother to think of them I tend to think of the Kardashians as the Carcrashians.

    This post is just an attempt to generate traffic, right? Because you’re probably gonna gat a bunch of hits in the next for days for something like “Paula Dean Kim Kardashian cooking show.”

  8. susan says

    1) Are you hung-over?
    2)

    But I will lose more weight this year. Out of fear.

    That’s OK, it will most likely find you again. After reading that article, I’ve determined to just try not to gain any more weight, and to love my body as it is. Also, too, exercise.

  9. Cuttlefish says

    Thanks to cuttleson, I’m down 30 pounds for the year. More his resolution than mine, but I couldn’t be happier about it.

    And I have learned to approach the tabloids and magazines with the mindset of an alien–they describe the local species, but don’t apply to me.

  10. Azkyroth says

    I may resolve to honor my threats to sit on the next upper-end-of-“healthy”-weight person who whines about supposedly being fat around me. >.>

  11. says

    Azkyroth:

    I may resolve to honor my threats to sit on the next upper-end-of-”healthy”-weight person who whines about supposedly being fat around me.

    Fat is different person to person. I’m naturally on the thin side, but carrying 10 lbs more than I should feels extremely uncomfortable and if I want to whine about that for a moment, so what? It shouldn’t be a matter of someone else saying “oh, you’re not fat, shut the fuck up.”

  12. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    As an aside, Paula Deen sells butter flavored lip gloss.

    I don’t normally do resolutions, either, but this year I promised myself that I’d eat more fruit and veg. *shrugs* It’s easy enough to do and I’ll enjoy it, so I figured it’s worth it.

  13. says

    Audley:

    As an aside, Paula Deen sells butter flavored lip gloss.

    Oh for…you think it ever occurs to the geniuses who buy this shit that they could just swipe a stick of butter across their lips?

  14. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Caine:

    Oh for…you think it ever occurs to the geniuses who buy this shit that they could just swipe a stick of butter across their lips?

    Ha! Such an elegant solution to the age-old question of “how can I suck on a stick butter all the time?”

  15. alisonstreight says

    Who the hell is Paula Dean? Obviously I don’t spend enough time paying attention in the checkout line.

  16. says

    alisonstreight:

    Who the hell is Paula Dean?

    It’s Deen. She’s a food network ‘celeb’. I’d never heard of her until she showed up on a Top Chef episode. Mister filled in the blanks, ’cause he watches foodtv. Do a search, I’m sure you’ll find out more than you want to know.

  17. says

    She apparently specializes in Southern “comfort” food. All I know, though, is that she has a bunch of magazines with her face splattered all over them, and in every case she is airbrushed and photoshopped to a frightening degree. You know those strange toddler beauty queens who get glitzed up and sexualized to an extreme? She’s kind of the grandma equivalent. Tres creepy.

  18. says

    I know that when she showed up on Top Chef, she was wearing an appreciable level of make-up and had some honestly creepy hair. BIG hair, all shiny and immobile. Probably had 4 cans of aqua net on it.

  19. sc_3076feecccd219560ddb9be8afed5075 says

    Oh man, I saw that exact magazine cover the other day and it freaked me the hell out. I had to turn it around to face the other way while I waited my turn in line.

  20. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I recall seeing that magazine cover with Deen last week in the check-out line at the grocery. Just one amusing photo and caption amongst all the others. You know the type. Kate is six months pregnant and the Queen doesn’t know. Lilo is having bigfoot’s baby and living with Elvis. Some actor/actress combo is splitting even though that was the prediction 5 years ago. So and so are gay. Snickering makes the wait go faster.

  21. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Caine:
    When she was on Iron Chef (I think it was an Xmas special a year or two back), it was the same creepy thing– tons of makeup, immobile hair, the works.

    I don’t know, there’s something “off” about her. Like she’s really Mom from Mom Corp– appears to be a sweet old lady, but underneath she’s an absolutely brutal industrialist.

  22. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    I said to myself, don’t piss yourself, Myers

    Do you often have to remind yourself of this?

  23. andyo says

    Japanese supermarkets have condoms and earpicks in the checkout line, and not those magazines.

  24. Azkyroth says

    Is Paula Deen responsible for the fact that I keep finding recipes where I can easily use half as much butter as called for in the original recipe to saute the onions for a triple batch?

  25. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    I’ve seen Paula Deen on the Food Network. She considers some form of grease to be one of the basic food groups.

  26. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    My New Years resolution is the same as last years. Enjoy life and live to see another New Year.

  27. carlie says

    Paula Deen is pretty hilarious. I’ve randomly found her show a few times and, without fail, she is always deep-frying something. The last time I saw it, it was asparagus. She had battered and deep-fried asparagus. One time some show went to her house and asked to see her refrigerator, and without her knowledge her assistant had filled the entire thing with nothing but mayonnaise and butter right before the camera crew got there.

    I have an acquaintance who prefaces anything she eats with moaning and hand-wringing about how “bad” it is to eat whatever it is she’s eating, and exactly what she’s going to do to make up for it, and oh it’s being so awful to eat it. God. Just don’t eat it then. If you want it eat it, but don’t try to justify it to me. I don’t fucking care. If it makes you happy, eat it. If it doesn’t make you happy, don’t eat it. Just don’t make me listen to you get angsty about it every single time you eat. And don’t then tell me about how you’re disgustingly fat, because I’m bigger than you and that is directly telling me that I’m disgusting. Thanks. Ugh.

  28. Rey Fox says

    At Fred Meyer (which I miss), there is a “family friendly” checkout line that doesn’t have horrifying magazines in it. They ought to rename it the “sanity friendly” line.

  29. mattwirth says

    chigau (私も) says:

    mattwirth
    Duuude!
    Was that necessary?

    Of course! Illustrations make everything better.

    Or was that “worse”? I can never remember..

  30. Azkyroth says

    And don’t then tell me about how you’re disgustingly fat, because I’m bigger than you and that is directly telling me that I’m disgusting. Thanks. Ugh.

    Thank you. >.>

  31. says

    Who the hell is Paula Dean? Obviously I don’t spend enough time paying attention in the checkout line.

    I had to look up who the Kardashians were. I don’t know if to be extremely pleased or slightly worried.

    My friend has a simple resolution. To have as much or more fun than the previous year.

  32. says

    Paula Deen could take a stick of butter, deep-fry it in butter, pour on melted butter, and still think it needed more butter.

    A friend once bought me one of her magazines. Granted, it was while I was in the hospital under an NPO order, so it wasn’t exactly a friendly move…

    And I wish Alton Brown would get back to cooking. Iron Chef is entertaining, but I’d rather watch something like Good Eats.

  33. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    DEEP FRIED FUCKING BUTTER.

    Shit, and I thought deep fried snickers were over the top…

  34. chigau (私も) says

    From the comments on the linked recipe

    …typically I increase the butter up to four or five sticks and don’t bother with the cream cheese (I am trying to eat healthier…

    My Irony Meter simply vanished without a trace.

  35. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    See, I’d totally eat battered, deep-fried butter. Like once a year. I looooooooove butter and it’s been the most difficult thing to give up post heart-attack. I have tiny little bits of it as a treat once or twice a month. Tonight I used 1/3 tbsp. of it on my popcorn, and now I won’t have it again for a couple of weeks.

    But, oh, a piece of crisp breading with melty butter inside? Yes. Yes, thank you very much. I will have the Butter Kiev.

    Yeah though – Paula Deen’s insane and her photoshopped face is fucking sinister.

  36. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Heresy, Carlie! No powdered sugar. This is a savory treat, not some sugar-laden indulgence.

  37. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Yes, Carlie, I was just about to say Mayo. . .lol.

    Seriously though, one needs no sauce. That’s it. . .I resolve to make deep fried butter this year.

  38. tomh says

    I grew up watching Julia Child who used plenty of butter and knew how to eat. I even saw her fry bacon in butter and she lived to be 93. I follow her dictum, “food is not medicine.”

  39. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I grew up watching Julia Child who used plenty of butter and knew how to eat. I even saw her fry bacon in butter and she lived to be 93.

    And I wish you the best of luck. Hopefully you have a fairly normal metabolism that can handle the load. Some of us aren’t so fortunate in the genetic lottery. I had a heart attack last year at age 36 after years of extraordinarily high cholesterol levels. I’m an outlier, yes, but do be careful to keep tabs on your blood lipid levels.

  40. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    I would just like to note that I had battered, deep fried pickles with dinner tonight.

    My brother-in-law is a madman.

  41. tomh says

    I had a heart attack last year at age 36

    I’m sorry to hear that. I’m almost twice your age but have been fortunate in that regard. My problems are with other organs.

  42. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Were the fried pickles good? And were they tart dill pickles or sweet pickles?

  43. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Josh:
    Tart pickles with tempura batter. They were… interesting. I didn’t hate them, but I don’t think I’d go out of my way to have them again, you know?

  44. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Thank fuck they were tart, and I approve of tempura batter. Yeah, I could see why you wouldn’t cross the Mohave desert to get to them, though!

  45. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    And I said to myself, this is the American face of death, the death of viscid excess, the death that ends not in bones, but a quivering mass of adipocere. And I said to myself, don’t piss yourself, Myers, but that’s goddamn terrifying.

    Ramen. Apart from the stuff-your-face-till-you-drop-dead attitude of the anti-liberals in the US, Ms. Deen’s food could kill a UFC fighter. There’s something deeply creepy about her even without the Uncanny Valley photoshopping.

    Overuse of photoshop robs the photo’s subject of their humanity. There’s a blog that has an “impossibly beautiful” series, highlighting the ridiculous photoshopping, but I can’t remember which.

  46. ambassadorfromverdammt says

    When you go to the zoo, monkeys fling poo at you. Supermarket tabloids are the human equivalent.

  47. Azkyroth says

    HOLY SHIT. SHE ACTUALLY DID IT.

    DEEP FRIED FUCKING BUTTER.

    Pre-fucking or post fucking? O.O

  48. kristinc, ~delicate snowflake~ says

    This year I resolve to remember (struggling upstream the while) that my fat body is my fat body, and not a representation of viscid excess, a quivering mass of adipocere, or a death sentence.

    Apart from the glitchy brain chemistry it’s a pretty good body. I can do a lot with it.

  49. Classical Cipher, Murmur Muris, OM says

    This year I resolve to remember (struggling upstream the while) that my fat body is my fat body, and not a representation of viscid excess, a quivering mass of adipocere, or a death sentence.


    You’re (always) wonderful.

  50. John Morales says

    [OT]

    Illuminata,

    There’s a blog that has an “impossibly beautiful” series, highlighting the ridiculous photoshopping, but I can’t remember which.

    Shakesville.

  51. RahXephon231 says

    This year I resolve to remember (struggling upstream the while) that my fat body is my fat body, and not a representation of viscid excess, a quivering mass of adipocere, or a death sentence.

    Yeah, charming imagery from PZ there. I love to have privileged people describe my body as if I’m being strangled by the DEATHFAT!

    As much as this place is a safe (or at least safer) place for feminism, there’s still a level of unchecked body privilege, at least on this post.

    I know PZ meant it flippantly, but Paula Deen, her food, or food like hers is not the reason people are fat. People are fat for loads of different reasons: genetics, hormones, various health problems that either directly cause weight gain or that indirectly decrease physical activity. It’s also a huge class issue. Many people who are fat are also working class or poor, and they don’t have the money for healthier foods or gym memberships, the mental or physical ability to exercise regularly, or the time to do either.

    If I were going to do anything about Americans being “fat” (which I wouldn’t since I don’t see being fat as automatically a Bad Thing), I would:

    1. Increase the amount given in food stamps and make it more widely available, or,
    2. Try to bring down food and fuel prices, or,
    3. Increase wages.

    Or some combination of the three. Either way it would serve the purpose of increasing people’s buying power as far as food goes and they can buy healthier things, and potentially work less so they actually have the time and energy to shop, cook, do dishes, and also exercise.

    Hell, I’d probably throw universal healthcare in there on top just so the many untreated/uncontrolled medical conditions out there can be taken care of. Probably the last thing I’d do is smack the mac & cheese out of someone’s mouth.

  52. Azkyroth says

    RahXephon: All of those things contribute, but the proximate cause of weight gain generally is habitually eating considerably more calories in, than are expended in, the course of a day. And the normalization of using very large amounts of saturated lipids in cooking is a contributing factor to the tendency to do that.

  53. RahXephon231 says

    All of those things contribute, but the proximate cause of weight gain generally is habitually eating considerably more calories in, than are expended in, the course of a day.

    Oh joy, the calculator argument.

    Assuming that calories in – calories out was how our bodies actually worked, wouldn’t consuming more calories, or expending less calories, than you should be directly (or indirectly) caused by the issues I just mentioned?

    A diet of mac and cheese and Hamburger Helper is going to have more calories than a diet of salads, fresh fruit, and lean meats, but which costs more? Which takes more time to prepare? Which is easier to store for longer periods of time, requiring fewer resource-intensive trips to the grocery store?

    What one eats is not always as simple as what one wants, but often comes down to availability, what one can afford, and what’s cost-effective.

    And the normalization of using very large amounts of saturated lipids in cooking is a contributing factor to the tendency to do that.

    I’m from the South. Nobody I know thinks Paula Deen’s cooking is normal.

  54. Azkyroth says

    I’m sorry, was something unclear about “All of those things contribute, but the proximate cause”?

    You seem to be very certain about the argument you want to have, and you seem to be determined to have it no matter what is actually said to you. That’s disappointing.

  55. maxamillion says

    Benjamin “Killer Pawn” Geiger says:
    HOLY SHIT. SHE ACTUALLY DID IT.
    DEEP FRIED FUCKING BUTTER.

    One response on that page.

    I took the liberty of altering the recipe a bit — typically I increase the butter up to four or five sticks and don’t bother with the cream cheese (I am trying to eat healthier.

    Oh the irony!

    My son’s soccer team loves these for after-game meals, they were the big “snack rave” at my mother’s funeral,

    Perhaps there’s a lesson there?

    and my dog can eat seven of these in one sitting.

    I appears that the pouch is joining her mother real soon.

  56. amblebury says

    DEEP FRIED BUTTER?!

    One of my arteries exploded at the very thought of it.

    I’m not Googling that woman – self-preservation instinct kicking in.

  57. RahXephon231 says

    I’m sorry, was something unclear about “All of those things contribute, but the proximate cause”?

    Possibly. What did you mean by it?

    You seem to be very certain about the argument you want to have, and you seem to be determined to have it no matter what is actually said to you. That’s disappointing.

    Seeing as I’ve made 2 posts and you’ve only made 1 response, I’m curious what argument you think I “want to have”, and how you came to that conclusion.

  58. davem says

    I took the liberty of altering the recipe a bit — typically I increase the butter up to four or five sticks and don’t bother with the cream cheese (I am trying to eat healthier.

    Oh the irony!

    Er, no, that’s sarcasm.

    The other reviews are in similar vein, taking the piss out of the recipe.

  59. Strategically Shaved Monkey says

    Am I the only one who had to look up “adipocere”? What sort of sheltered life have I been leading?
    I guess if Ms Deen has come up with a recipe for corpse wax, the Killer Pawn will find it for us.

  60. Midnight Rambler says

    HOLY SHIT. SHE ACTUALLY DID IT.

    DEEP FRIED FUCKING BUTTER.

    Sheesh, you guys are so far behind the times. Deep-fried butter was the big hit at the Iowa state fair in the fall, when the Republican candidates were there. Plus, at least her recipe had some ingredients besides butter.
    New Fair Food: Fried Butter On A Stick!

  61. RahXephon231 says

    @Alethea H. Claw

    Yeah! I actually almost linked to her. In fact I had planned on linking to the “if only poor people understood nutrition” post.

  62. Irene Delse says

    RahXephon231:

    Assuming that calories in – calories out was how our bodies actually worked, wouldn’t consuming more calories, or expending less calories, than you should be directly (or indirectly) caused by the issues I just mentioned?

    A diet of mac and cheese and Hamburger Helper is going to have more calories than a diet of salads, fresh fruit, and lean meats, but which costs more?

    You mean “a standard portion of mac and cheese has more calories than a similar volume of salad, etc.”? If so, yes.

    One of the tricky parts of the way our brains work relative to nutrition is that it’s easy to overestimate the amount of food that’s “enough”. When your income is low and/or irregular, the urge to just feed up on caloric rich stuff is an imperative survival instinct. That’s what 99% of humanity has always done during its history, fatten up in times of plenty because the lean times will shortly come back. For agrarian societies, this meant the coming of winter, or the dry season. For the modern urban poor, it’s more a matter of when the check comes and when the money will dry out.

    But as far as the metabolism go, “calories in, calories out” is indeed the bottom line.

  63. says

    I rather like fried dill pickle slices, but not with tempura: a thin cornmeal and mustard breading, and fried until close to potato chips in texture. We used to eat it with catfish, ketchup and hush puppies, large glasses of ice tea and sliced tomatoes. Sometimes we ate pie, but mostly not. Two planks of fish and a fist of pickles and hush puppies is enough to food coma the shit out of me.

    It’s intensely better than it sounds. I may have to make it for people I know; it used to be a summer meal at my great aunt’s house in Louisiana, before she died. The area is ridiculously hot in the summer, and so we’d eat and pass out in the shade for a few hours.

    I’ll take that body dysmorphia vow: I will try very hard this year (as I have many years now) to accept that this is my body, not an aging blob which I should be intensely ashamed of.

  64. RahXephon231 says

    But as far as the metabolism go, “calories in, calories out” is indeed the bottom line.

    Citation needed, especially if you want to explain this using such a calculus.

    From the article “The Fat Trap” linked earlier in the thread:

    Beginning in 2009, he and his team recruited 50 obese men and women. The men weighed an average of 233 pounds; the women weighed about 200 pounds. Although some people dropped out of the study, most of the patients stuck with the extreme low-calorie diet, which consisted of special shakes called Optifast and two cups of low-starch vegetables, totaling just 500 to 550 calories a day for eight weeks. Ten weeks in, the dieters lost an average of 30 pounds.

    At that point, the 34 patients who remained stopped dieting and began working to maintain the new lower weight. Nutritionists counseled them in person and by phone, promoting regular exercise and urging them to eat more vegetables and less fat. But despite the effort, they slowly began to put on weight. After a year, the patients already had regained an average of 11 of the pounds they struggled so hard to lose. They also reported feeling far more hungry and preoccupied with food than before they lost the weight.

    While researchers have known for decades that the body undergoes various metabolic and hormonal changes while it’s losing weight, the Australian team detected something new. A full year after significant weight loss, these men and women remained in what could be described as a biologically altered state. Their still-plump bodies were acting as if they were starving and were working overtime to regain the pounds they lost. For instance, a gastric hormone called ghrelin, often dubbed the “hunger hormone,” was about 20 percent higher than at the start of the study. Another hormone associated with suppressing hunger, peptide YY, was also abnormally low. Levels of leptin, a hormone that suppresses hunger and increases metabolism, also remained lower than expected. A cocktail of other hormones associated with hunger and metabolism all remained significantly changed compared to pre-dieting levels. It was almost as if weight loss had put their bodies into a unique metabolic state, a sort of post-dieting syndrome that set them apart from people who hadn’t tried to lose weight in the first place.

    “What we see here is a coordinated defense mechanism with multiple components all directed toward making us put on weight,” Proietto says. “This, I think, explains the high failure rate in obesity treatment.”

  65. KG says

    If I were going to do anything about Americans being “fat” (which I wouldn’t since I don’t see being fat as automatically a Bad Thing), I would:

    1. Increase the amount given in food stamps and make it more widely available, or,
    2. Try to bring down food and fuel prices, or,
    3. Increase wages.
    – RahXephon231

    Obesity levels correlate positively with levels of income inequality across rich nations and across US states, as do many other “social pathologies”(The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, Wilkinson and Pickett 2009, Ch. 7 and see here.

    I think the explanation for more poor people being fat than rich ones is unlikely to be food costs: vegetables are not expensive. Rather, eating foods high in fat and sugar feels good – for obvious evolutionary reasons. If you are constantly stressed (and being near the bottom of a steep socio-economic gradient is intensely stressful), the urge to eat such foods is likely to be very strong.

    BTW, although there is argument about just how fat (or thin) you have to be before your health is negatively affected, there’s really no doubt that a large and growing proportion of Americans are fat enough to shorten their life expectancy markedly, and raise their chances of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, COPD, gall bladder problems, and some cancers. IOW, being fat is a Bad Thing. What it isn’t is a moral failing, character flaw, or valid excuse for others to look down on you.

  66. RahXephon231 says

    @KG

    Obesity levels correlate positively with levels of income inequality across rich nations and across US states, as do many other “social pathologies”(The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, Wilkinson and Pickett 2009, Ch. 7 and see here.

    Which supports my point. Thanks.

    I think the explanation for more poor people being fat than rich ones is unlikely to be food costs: vegetables are not expensive.

    I live in poverty. Making a salad costs as much as making Hamburger Helper, if not more, and while the salad may have more nutrients, it’s also not caloricly-dense. When you can afford one meal a day, 800 calories from Hamburger Helper makes more sense than 300 from a salad, which also probably has little protein. (By the way, there are days when I eat salad, and I would eat salad more if I could afford it, both financially and in the caloric loss incurred).

    Rather, eating foods high in fat and sugar feels good – for obvious evolutionary reasons. If you are constantly stressed (and being near the bottom of a steep socio-economic gradient is intensely stressful), the urge to eat such foods is likely to be very strong.

    No argument here.

    IOW, being fat is a Bad Thing.

    Again, citation needed. I’d like to see that “excess” fat and the diseases you describe (especially COPD: what, is the fat infiltrating my lungs?) are causally linked, especially in the direction you’re insinuating, i.e. fat causes COPD, not someone gets COPD, it decreases their ability to exercise, and their weight increases.

  67. jefrir says

    I think the explanation for more poor people being fat than rich ones is unlikely to be food costs: vegetables are not expensive.

    While this is generally true where fresh food is easily available, the extra expense involved in getting to a shop that sells it can be a factor. I’ve certainly experienced the temptation of having fast food places that are both closer than the decent supermarket, and offer a meal that was not significantly more expensive than I could make myself. I was usually able to resist, but mostly because I had spare time to travel the extra distance, and to cook, and because I enjoy cooking. If I was working long hours at the time, the fast food would have won far more often.
    And this is in the UK; American cities apparently tend to have somewhat less available fresh fruit and veg.

    The other major expense, though, is having the facilities to be able to cook. Finding accomadation with a decent kitchen, with enough space to store foods and to prepare vegetables and fresh meat, and buying the tools needed, can get pricey very quickly. I’m currently looking at the possibility of buying a house, and I’m struggling to find anywhere with a decent sized kitchen – and I’m looking at 3-bed houses.
    That could actually be a measure that would help – social housing with good kitchens, and the supply of sets of basic kitchen equipment to anyone on a low income who needs one. More expensive than lectures on eating more veg, but probably more effective.

  68. KG says

  69. Matt Penfold says

    I think the explanation for more poor people being fat than rich ones is unlikely to be food costs: vegetables are not expensive. Rather, eating foods high in fat and sugar feels good – for obvious evolutionary reasons. If you are constantly stressed (and being near the bottom of a steep socio-economic gradient is intensely stressful), the urge to eat such foods is likely to be very strong.

    Another reason is that poor people are less likely to have access to a car, and so will be reliant on public transport to get to the shops. In some parts of the UK, and I suspect the US and other countries, this has resulted in what are called food deserts, where there are few local shops and those that do exist sell primarily low cost, high fat, high sugar foods. When fresh food is available the cost is often high, and far more than the low cost, high fat, high sugar options. In the UK Glasgow is said to be the city most effected.

    There are schemes that aim to overcome the problem though, with food co-operatives being a popular option. They are local schemes in which fresh, healthy food is purchased wholesale, and sold in small quantities to local residents with only sufficient mark-up to cover the costs of running the scheme.

  70. Ariaflame says

    In terms of energy balance purely, if you take in less energy than you expend, then the energy has to come from somewhere. Conservation of energy demands it. If it doesn’t come from the food, then it has to come from your body’s reserves. However. This does not mean that if you wish to lose mass that all you do is go on a low calorie diet. The metabolism is an adaptable thing, and if the calorie intake drops for a significant period of time it tends to get more efficient at storing extra calories when they come in. So when the diet is stopped, bang, back on go the kilograms.

    For long term reduction, should that be what you wish to do, and barring any complicating medical factors, the way to go is to eat healthier if you can, but not take the calorie intake down drastically. Reduce portion sizes a bit. And match it with some exercise. Gentle exercise is fine provided it is regular. If it’s long term results you are aiming for, then the diet and exercise you choose to reduce your mass should be something you can imagine doing for the rest of your life. (With occasional indulgences for social events).

    As has already been mentioned, eating healthier does not mean a lifetime of salads.

    I do not claim to be an expert, but it seems to be a reasonable method. Worked for me. (Admittedly I only wanted to lose 10 kg, but I think the principle is sound)

  71. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    Another constraint on eating healthy is time. It takes more time to boil potatoes rather than fry them. Later today I’ll be making split pea soup which will take a couple of hours to cook. If I were working two jobs to make ends meet, I wouldn’t have the time to make the soup.

  72. says

    RahX is right that poverty correlates strongly with obesity. It is easier and cheaper to get fast food, soda, and family-sized frozen meals (which are just laden with sodium). But the flip side to this coin is that it is also possible to get healthy food for low prices. Alternatively, less can be eaten per meal. There are strong influencing factors here, but it ultimately comes down to the person (minus children, of course). Moreover, even if a person cannot afford a gym membership, the vast majority of people can afford to go for a walk around the block most days.

    @KG 99,

    IOW, being fat is a Bad Thing.

    Agreed, 100%.

    What it isn’t is a moral failing, character flaw, or valid excuse for others to look down on you.

    I agree by the letter of what you’ve said, but not in the sentiment. Being fat is not a moral failing. However, not trying to be healthy is. It’s the mistreatment of a human body. I’m not about to stop anyone from doing it because personal autonomy comes into play, but it is still a human body and it is still intentional mistreatment. There isn’t an excuse for it.

    All that said, I have to applaud PZ. When I saw him in 2009, the first thing I noticed was how unfortunately fat he was. (Well, maybe I noticed the beard first.) I don’t know the specifics of the history of his diet and exercise, but I don’t think there can be much doubt that he has had long periods of time where he hasn’t put forth due effort. I’m very happy that he is looking at changing his ways.

  73. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    Michael Hawkins #109

    I make an offer to you. I’ll try to eat better, exercise more, and generally be healthier if you try to be less sanctimonious and smug.

  74. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Michael Hawkins, might I suggest that there is a difference between tone trolling and pointing out that you are a privileged, clueless, sanctimonious fuck. Dude, have you ever been to a poor urban neighborhood? I can direct you to neighborhoods in DC or Detroit where you would have to walk MILES to a supermarket–and given the neighborhood, it is unlikely you would return in one piece. Gym membership? WTF? Where the fuck do you live?

    OK, dude, I’d love to hear your recipes for “healthy” food using only the “produce” found in a mom-and-pop store typical of many urban neighborhoods: 1)aged potatoes, 2)onions that are soft, moldy and starting to sprout. Oh, and actually many rural areas are not much better. Not all folks who live in rural areas have enough land to grow their own veggies.

    This post entitles you to one clue. Use it wisely.

  75. says

    @112 a_ray,

    I was being facetious with the tone troll comment.

    I suspected someone was going to bring up tough neighborhoods. Most Americans do not live in places where it is too dangerous for them to walk during the day. Moreover, while exercise matters greatly, it is just half the battle. Food is the other half, and as I said in my first post, healthy foods can be found for low prices. It isn’t always easy, which is why poverty correlates so strongly with being fat, but it is certainly possible.

    You said “Gym membership? WTF?” as if I did not note that many people cannot afford them.

    The vast majority of Americans have access to the Internet, cooking books, or knowledgeable people. That access is certainly more limited among the poor, but it is not non-existent. Most people can find the information needed to make meals that are relatively healthy. And even if they can’t, they can definitely buy low-sodium/low-fat versions of the products that are common to poorer households.

    I’m not sitting here as if there aren’t people in severe poverty. I’m not acting as if absolutely everyone can buy everything they desire. That’s just part of the conversation you’re having in your own head.

    But let’s not pretend like the obesity epidemic in the US is limited to the poor. Plenty of middle class people are overweight. Hell, the bearded guy who wrote the original post gets paid plenty of money in order to buy healthy food yet he is still overweight.

  76. says

    Fried pickles can be really good or really bad. I’ve had some of both. The local barbecue place does fried pickles that are tasty, but have a bad habit of coming apart (the batter doesn’t stick to the pickle particularly well).

    ####

    On the subject of poverty and obesity and the food desert phenomenon:

    Is it legal (in the US, or at least in some states) to charge different prices based on the method of payment? I know it can be done when selling diesel fuel.

    What I’d like to see is a store (farmer’s market) that sells healthy foods at a much lower price—possibly at wholesale—to shoppers who qualify for food stamps. Cash or credit shoppers would pay retail. And this would only be on healthy foods; processed junk would cost the same for both groups.

    Discuss.

  77. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Michail Hawkins,
    Dude, you are just sad. Have you ever even set foot in a zipcode where the median income was less than $50000/yr? Low sodium? Low fat? Do you have any fricking idea what you find on the shelves of most urban mom and pop stores? Clue: Cheetos are on the “healthfood” aisle. Dude, for your own edification, you need to get out more.

  78. says

    Your perception of Paula Deen is not only more frightening than my own, it’s spot on.

    For the longest time, I thought she looked like Carrol O’Connor in drag…

  79. chigau (私も) says

    The vast majority of Americans have access to the Internet, cooking books, or knowledgeable people.

    Stunning.

  80. anchor says

    A plastic face selling plastic food to plastic consumers.

    I have a feeling that a cross-section right through the middle of her head would reveal a homogeneous mass of yellow polymer with the same composition as the cheesy “macoroni”. No differentiated structure apparent whatsoever, right down to sub-micron scale. Completely flawless.

    That IS goddamned terrifying.

  81. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Matt Penfold:

    In some parts of the UK, and I suspect the US and other countries, this has resulted in what are called food deserts, where there are few local shops and those that do exist sell primarily low cost, high fat, high sugar foods. When fresh food is available the cost is often high, and far more than the low cost, high fat, high sugar options.

    Yep, I was just about to make this point. IIRC, it’s a big problem in the western part of the US– most of the news stories I’ve heard about the phenomenon point to LA and other cities in California.

    There’s been some push to get farmer’s markets into these areas and some states allow food stamps (EBT cards) to be used when buying direct from the farmer.

    MH:

    Being fat is not a moral failing. However, not trying to be healthy is. It’s the mistreatment of a human body.

    From a fat ex-smoker: fuck you and the fucking horse you rode in on.

    Here’s the thing. I have the knowledge and the skills to make everything I eat from scratch. But! Coming home from work every day after 10 to 12 hours* (often without a lunch break) means that I simply do not have the time to prepare a meal like that. And considering that my husband also works (who’d’ve thunk it?), I don’t have someone to prepare my meals for me.

    I know I’m not the only person stuck in this boat.

    *It’s a physically demanding job on top of everything else.

  82. littlejohn says

    My resolution: Never to confuse “gauntlet” (a glove) with “gantlet” (a form of punishment). Also, to stop being such a douchebag about correcting other people. Nah.

  83. says

    Oh and let us not forget that if people use their welfare and food stamps to buy good food, they get criticized for ‘cheating’ the system with their fine cut (read: not spam) meats and luxuries (read: not sugar with some water and fruit on it)

  84. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Ing:
    Oh yes. The “poor people can’t have nice things” argument.
    I hate the fuckers that pull that one out.

  85. chigau (私も) says

    I’m not so fond of the “poor people are too stoopid to buy good food” argument, either.

  86. says

    @Audley

    There was someone on the Sciblog who gave a story about how horrible it was after they donated so much to see the poor people spend the money on gifts….ON CHRISTMAS!

    ZOMG! The poor used the charity you gave to make themselves less miserable! Those fuckers!

    There’s a bizarre idea that the poor HAVE to remain in squalor and toiling, or else they’re reaching about their station!

  87. says

    @118 chigau,

    80% of Americans have regular Internet access. Other homes will have old cookbooks lying around (which, I suspect, would add a few percentage points). Still others have cooked for a long time and have general knowledge. But good response with “stunning”.

    @120 Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart,

    I have not linked to a post I have on this subject because I’m not looking for a bunch of hits, but you don’t have my full argument. I have said it is a moral failing to not try to be healthy. That means putting forth an honest effort. What that exactly entails will change from person to person. I’m not pretending the human body, much less individual situations, can be approached the same across the board. For instance, from what you’ve described, I don’t expect as much from you because you have a difficult schedule. A person who makes a good living with few outside obligations and an easy schedule, however, should probably take more time to focus on her health.

    *It’s a physically demanding job on top of everything else.

    And this would have to be factored into your efforts to be healthy. They may be incidental, but they still exist.

    @122 We Are Ing,

    Have you ever worked at a grocery store? I worked at one for several years here in Maine. And what do you think of when you think “Maine”? Lobster, of course. Believe me, there are more people than you might imagine who are willing to buy that sea cockroach using food stamps.

    Food stamps are a good thing, but let’s not pretend that there isn’t abuse. After all, aside from all the first hand accounts you can easily find, the reason states switched from bills to cards isn’t simply because it is convenient (though that and cost are the biggest factors). People used to buy something that cost just over a certain dollar amount. That would usually get them 90-99 cents back because there is no such thing as food coins.

  88. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Ing:

    There’s a bizarre idea that the poor HAVE to remain in squalor and toiling, or else they’re reaching about their station!

    Yup. There was an argument months ago (over on the old Sb Pharyngula) about how horrible it is when people using food stamps buy beer.

    I almost had an aneurism over that one.

  89. says

    Have you ever worked at a grocery store? I worked at one for several years here in Maine. And what do you think of when you think “Maine”? Lobster, of course. Believe me, there are more people than you might imagine who are willing to buy that sea cockroach using food stamps.

    Food stamps are a good thing, but let’s not pretend that there isn’t abuse.

    Ah yes, and they do not deserve it right?

    Despite the fact that they are using the exact same amount of welfare to buy 1 lobster as they are 100 cans of spam. So the only reason for being mad at them and claiming this is abuse is if the poor don’t deserve it.

    People may fucking decide to give their kids some taste of good food every once and a while rather than just throwing them lunchables.

  90. jefrir says

    People used to buy something that cost just over a certain dollar amount. That would usually get them 90-99 cents back because there is no such thing as food coins.

    Which might mean that they are SCAMMING THE SYSTEM and being horribly wasteful of those benefits. Or it might mean that they’re doing what normal people do; saving a bit of money on one area of expences (in this case, food) so that they can spend it on something else that they want or need. Like maybe a pan.

  91. says

    People used to buy something that cost just over a certain dollar amount. That would usually get them 90-99 cents back because there is no such thing as food coins.

    Which again, is a) still from the same pot of welfare so they’re not getting anything more b) they’ve freed up less than a fucking dollar that they can spend on nonfood. Wow they really gamed the system getting that gum!

  92. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    I see I can continue to live an indolent life, cramming food into my face, since Michael Hawkins is still a smug, sanctimonious prig.

    Have you ever worked at a grocery store? I worked at one for several years here in Maine. And what do you think of when you think “Maine”? Lobster, of course. Believe me, there are more people than you might imagine who are willing to buy that sea cockroach using food stamps.

    People actually use food stamps to buy luxuries? The swine, assuming the airs of their betters. Fortunately, Mikey’s buddies the Republicans will soon put a stop to that nonsense when they do away with food stamps.

  93. says

    @128 We Are Ing,

    The point of food stamps is to help those in need. Tell me, please, who is in need of lobster?

    @129 jefrir,

    Most people do not try to scam the system. Some do. Don’t be naive and/or polemic on this. Too many people do scam the system, and they aren’t doing it merely for the sake of surviving. I’ve personally seen people intentionally buy candy bars that would add up to just over a certain dollar amount because they otherwise couldn’t afford their cigarettes. Is that not abuse?

    @130,

    I’m not even sure I want to respond to something so dumb. 1) You can’t possibly believe that everyone on food stamps or other forms of welfare shift their funds around for just the necessities. People buy luxury items (such as lobster) all the time. 2) When Joe uses his food stamps to buy expensive steaks and seafood, he is taking money out of the pot. That means that there aren’t the same funds there for Mary when she needs help. Money is not infinite. 3) People scamming a dollar here, a dollar there adds up.

  94. says

    If by luxuries you mean food that isn’t always the cheapest mass produced slops yes.

    Poor people buying a cake with food stamps! Those fuckers! Their kid doesn’t deserve a birthday! They’re scamming the system by choosing to indulge in one thing while sacrificing something else in either quality or quantity!

  95. says

    2) When Joe uses his food stamps to buy expensive steaks and seafood, he is taking money out of the pot. That means that there aren’t the same funds there for Mary when she needs help. Money is not infinite. 3) People scamming a dollar here, a dollar there adds up.

    No you fucking idiot. THEY ARE GIVEN A SET AMOUNT. The way they use THEIR ALLOWANCE affects no one else.

    They are not getting MORE money if they spend more.

    The point of food stamps is to help those in need. Tell me, please, who is in need of lobster?

    What quality of food do you think those of need are allowed?

  96. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    MH:

    I have said it is a moral failing to not try to be healthy. That means putting forth an honest effort.

    And you’re ignoring the responses detailing why “an honest effort” is impossible for many people. Food deserts, multiple jobs, not being able to afford fresh food (and, yes, depending on where you live, processed food is often WAY less expensive (calorie for calorie) than the staples) are all an impediment to an “honest effort”.

    You have yet to describe why unhealthy habits are a moral failing, instead of a health issue. Do you smoke? Drink? Even indulge in high fat foods? Swallow swords? Chances are there’s something that you do that’s personally unhealthy. Besides your hypocrisy, that doesn’t make you a moral failure.

    Do us all a favor and shut the fuck up. Your sniveling isn’t impressive.

    Believe me, there are more people than you might imagine who are willing to buy that sea cockroach using food stamps.

    So? Are they getting more benefits from the state for buying “luxury” items? Or are they spending their money as they see fit?

    This is what Ing and I were saying– this argument is nothing more than “the poor can’t be trusted to make decisions for themselves” which is nothing short of disgusting.

    People used to buy something that cost just over a certain dollar amount. That would usually get them 90-99 cents back because there is no such thing as food coins.

    Once again, so? Do you know what that person intends to spend that money on? Why do you feel that they can’t be trusted? Oh wait, they’re poor so we know that they can’t make good decisions for themselves, right? *spits*

    Seriously, dude, shut the fuck up.

  97. says

    @131 ‘Tis Himself,

    I am not a Republican and I have never voted as such. I do not support the vast majority of Republican policies, and I certainly think food stamps are extremely helpful and definitely needed. Sorry to burst your bubble of assumption, but all I’ve said here is that people abuse the system. Unlike Republicans, though, I believe some of it can be fixed within the system (such as banning the purchasing of certain items, like Maine did with energy drinks).

    Perhaps you can field this one because We Are Ing is dancing: Who is in need of lobster?

    @133 We Are Ing,

    Please tell me who is in need of lobster.

  98. says

    Have you ever worked at a grocery store? I worked at one for several years here in Maine. And what do you think of when you think “Maine”? Lobster, of course. Believe me, there are more people than you might imagine who are willing to buy that sea cockroach using food stamps.

    I was under the impression (at least from my former roommate, whose family is in the business of catching lobsters in Maine) that it would cost a whole heck of a lot less where it’s plentiful. Depending on the season and price per pound, it can be a cheaper meat-based protein than what most people think – which is usually what people making this argument want people to think, i.e. the welfare cheat circa the Regan-era 80s.

    And even if it’s not, what business is it of anyone’s what poor people buy? Gah, people who hold this opinion is why it took me years of poverty before even signing up for food stamps for myself and months of personal shame just using the damned card lest some asshole judge me for daring to buy food more appetizing or nutritious than ramen, Spam, and Kool-Aid.

    Will there be people gaming the system? Yes, always, from welfare cheats to companies using government issued bailout to buy jets.

    Gah!

  99. says

    If I skip lunch for a couple of weeks to buy something else, it doesn’t take money out of anyone elses hands but mine.

    I have $100 dollars if I spend 99.10 dollars and 40 of it is on lobster and 59 on cold cuts and cleaning supplies then I’m making the decision to get bulk for most of the time and have one or so good meals, valid decision. Oh and I get 90 cents…which just means it’s money that was converted from foodstamp currency into coinage. It’s still the same amount welfare gave me. It’s a set limit.

    Someone else could spend all their money on crackers and live off that for much longer.

    Oh and of course did you ever think that maybe those people HAD saved their food stamps? They could have cut corners in one way to save up for another.

    It’s a set amount, if they blow the whole wad on one days of eating they’re stuck with no help the rest of the month.

  100. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    MH:

    The point of food stamps is to help those in need. Tell me, please, who is in need of lobster?

    It’s food, asshole. Please tell me, where is the line between “needs food” and “only needs X foods”?

    That’s it, no “luxury” foods for you– those are only reserved for the non-dumbasses.

    I’ve personally seen people intentionally buy candy bars that would add up to just over a certain dollar amount because they otherwise couldn’t afford their cigarettes.

    Ever try to quit? It’s an addiction, and the withdrawal symptoms are really fucking bad.

    Not to mention that some people honestly and truly cannot quit. But, no sympathy for them, those dirty, scamming smokers!

    2) When Joe uses his food stamps to buy expensive steaks and seafood, he is taking money out of the pot. That means that there aren’t the same funds there for Mary when she needs help. Money is not infinite.

    Um, what? No no no no no. People are given benefits based on need (income and family size, for the terminally stupid), not what they would like to buy.

    Or are you arguing that those heinous lobster-buyers could actually afford lobsters, but they choose to scam because having to use an EBT card at the checkout is oh so glamorous?

    People scamming a dollar here, a dollar there adds up.

    I think your definition of “scam” and my definition of “scam” are two vastly different things.

    What was I saying before? Oh yes, shut the fuck up, Mike.

  101. says

    @133 We Are Ing,

    Please tell me who is in need of lobster.

    THEN WHY THE FUCK DO THEY SELL IT!?

    I’m sorry, I didn’t see the stamp on the fucking crustacean that said “WHITES ONLY”

    Do most middle class people eat Lobster all the time? No they save up for it or splurge on it. It’s the same thing.

    Why shouldn’t they be able to use their resources to invest in food that is of perceived higher cost because of higher taste (ie they get greater enjoyment from it) in exchange for getting less quantity? This is basic fucking economics.

    It doesn’t fucking matter what food they spend on it because it’s their responsibility! Should we stop them from buying Crest Ultra because that extra whitening is a luxury they don’t need? Should we insist they buy surplus industrial packing paper instead of toilet paper?

  102. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    People used to buy something that cost just over a certain dollar amount. That would usually get them 90-99 cents back because there is no such thing as food coins.

    Here in Illinois those on food stamps/general welfare get Link cards, which act like debit cards.

    Seriously, dude, shut the fuck up.

    Arrogance and ignorance won’t let him. He thinks he is the smartest poster here. *snort*

  103. says

    I grew up in a family of six kids; my father was typically working two jobs at low wages to make ends meet. We were on food stamps. And yes, sometimes my parents scrabbled for change to buy cigarettes (they were hooked), and sometimes they’d treat us kids to twinkies for desert, or even buy pork chops instead of hamburger for dinner. They wouldn’t buy lobster, though; we were in Washington state, where that was extraordinarily expensive, and we lived near the ocean, so there were many weekends where we’d head over to the sound to dig clams, and that was our seafood.

    I’m so sorry, though, and I apologize to the rich conservatives that we were so wasteful. We didn’t live on a diet of pasta and beans. We didn’t sit forlorn in our house all day long, listening to conservative talk radio. We didn’t shun holidays because festivity was inappropriate to our station. My parents didn’t tell the kids that there would be no birthday or Christmas this year because it wouldn’t be fair to Richard Nixon.

    We were wicked. We actually tried to live a life that wasn’t a dreary submission to poverty.

    And then I grew up and now I get to say “FUCK YOU!” to niggardly apologists for the 1%, so it all worked out well in the end.

    And bless ‘em, I hope the poor are doing their best to take as much from the overfed, bloated, Republican/Libertarian assholes as they can.

  104. says

    I’ve personally seen people intentionally buy candy bars that would add up to just over a certain dollar amount because they otherwise couldn’t afford their cigarettes.

    Oppose to you who has a range of error of a few dollars in your budget.

    It’s called budgeting jackass.

  105. says

    Why do poor people wind up with iPhones

    two big reasons

    a) Tech is getting more permeable and prices are not only lowering but makers are targeting those lower income demographics as new buyers.

    b) Why not? As the prices lower it is one of the few luxuries they can afford. from some’s POV they are very unlikely to ever make enough or save enough to afford a good car or a house, so why squirrel the extra cash you have away for something you’ll probably never get? There’s a smaller luxury right now you CAN potentially get.

  106. says

    @135 Dr.,

    And you’re ignoring the responses detailing why “an honest effort” is impossible for many people. Food deserts, multiple jobs, not being able to afford fresh food (and, yes, depending on where you live, processed food is often WAY less expensive (calorie for calorie) than the staples) are all an impediment to an “honest effort”.

    This is false. I have not ignored this arguments. In fact, I specifically acknowledged that some people will have it more difficult than others. If you repeat what you’ve said here, you are are lying.

    Anyway, whereas a number of Americans face undue hardships that make it very difficult (not impossible) to put forth an honest effort, that is not the case for the majority of people.

    You have yet to describe why unhealthy habits are a moral failing, instead of a health issue.

    Again, false. At comment 109 I said this: It’s the mistreatment of a human body. I’m not about to stop anyone from doing it because personal autonomy comes into play, but it is still a human body and it is still intentional mistreatment. There isn’t an excuse for it.

    And again, for the sake of decorum I have not linked to the article I have written, but I have expanded on this on my website. If you wish, I will direct you to what I have written.

    Do you smoke? Drink? Even indulge in high fat foods? Swallow swords? Chances are there’s something that you do that’s personally unhealthy. Besides your hypocrisy, that doesn’t make you a moral failure.

    I don’t expect perfection from people, nor is a lack of perfection a moral failing. The point of good health is that it get put to good use. Smoking, of course, would be a massive detriment, but if someone wants to indulge in one thing or another from time to time, there is little to no harm. Moreover, let’s not get so stupidly polemic here that we lose focus on how proper nutrition works. I will eat foods higher in fat sometimes for specific reasons. Right now it is part of my exercise regimen. Other times I do it before I go hiking. Pretending there is some absolute on what makes food healthy or unhealthy reminds me purely of Limbaugh’s criticism of Michele Obama.

    So? Are they getting more benefits from the state for buying “luxury” items? Or are they spending their money as they see fit?

    I am impressed with the number of people who don’t seem to realize that food stamps and other forms of welfare are a finite resource. When one person buys something unnecessary, that takes away from another person – someone who may need basic necessities instead of lobster.

    This is what Ing and I were saying– this argument is nothing more than “the poor can’t be trusted to make decisions for themselves” which is nothing short of disgusting.

    Given that you haven’t understood most of what has been said, that doesn’t surprise me. The poor certainly can be trusted as much as anyone else. However, as people, I don’t see why we should have religious-like faith that they will always do the right thing. Besides that, welfare is for the needy, not the wanty.

    Once again, so? Do you know what that person intends to spend that money on? Why do you feel that they can’t be trusted? Oh wait, they’re poor so we know that they can’t make good decisions for themselves, right?

    I’m sure some have valid expenses, such as diapers for their children. But there are other forms of help for that. Not enough, certainly, but they do exist.

    This isn’t about the poor making bad decisions. This is about money being allocated for one thing but being used for another. Most times when people do that, it is not for valid reasons.

  107. says

    I believe some of it can be fixed within the system (such as banning the purchasing of certain items, like Maine did with energy drinks).

    Gah. Do you know why people buy energy drinks? Because they’re tired, and they’re hoping for a pick-me-up. And why are they tired?

    I know, it’s because they were up all night partying with hookers and blow.

    There is something wrong with people who fuss endlessly over whether someone else is having a good time that they don’t think they deserve. It’s more Puritan judgmentalism.

  108. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Shame on your parents, PZ! Buying their kids nice things, who do they think they are, the wealthy?

    Bah, fuck this entire thread. It was way more fun when we were talking about butter.

    I’m gonna go take my moral failures and bake some peanut butter cookies, even though I’ve got a bowl of oranges sitting on the counter, just waiting to be eaten.

  109. says

    This is about money being allocated for one thing but being used for another.

    You can only buy food with food stamps.

    Lobster is food.

    Where’s the misallocation?

  110. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Jesus Christ.

    Mike:

    When one person buys something unnecessary, that takes away from another person – someone who may need basic necessities instead of lobster.

    No, it doesn’t. The loberst-buying scam artist would have the same amount of benefits no matter what they were intending to buy.

    Why is this so fucking difficult?

  111. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Or “lobster-buying scam artist” for those of you not wrestling with cookie dough.

  112. says

    This isn’t about the poor making bad decisions. This is about money being allocated for one thing but being used for another. Most times when people do that, it is not for valid reasons.

    Because YOU say so.

    You sir are a fucking monster. You care more about how the most poor and destitute or struggling arne’t playing by YOUR conception of the rules and not conforming to YOUR conceptions of what THEY deserve than about the fact that they are poor or struggling.

    You live in a country and a state where we are so collectively well off the poor have a chance to get lobsters! And rather than see that as a source of pride, you grouse and complain about it. Why oh WHY can’t they be MORE poor!? Like India! They don’t have that problem there!? Why can’t we be more like the 3rd world where the poor are grateful for any scrap and make ACTUAL sacrifices! That’s what real manly poverty is! I want to see them sacrifice children’s birthday parties, give away beloved pets, buy fruit as Christmas presents and work all day and then go to sleep with absolutely no luxury or non necessity! You fucking dream of a WORSE America you piece of shit.

  113. janine says

    Here is how my mother gamed the system after she got a divorce and raised eight kids on her own. (A note for the MRAs, while my father was supposed to pay alimony, my mother got nothing.) She would babysit and not report the income. Because any money she earned was deducted from the relief we got from the government.

    And let me fucking tell you about all of the fucking lobster we ate!

    Oh, wait. We never had lobster. Or steak. Or anything like that. We ate a lot of rice based and pasta based casseroles.

  114. says

    Tell me, please, who is in need of lobster?

    Oh shut the fuck up already, the shit is falling out of your mouth.

    In places where seafood is abundant and fresh caught daily, it’s often the cheapest form of protein. Who is need of lobster? How about someone who is hungry, douchetart?

    Why don’t you run off and make a nice, obsessive list of exactly which foods poor people should not even be allowed to look at? Anything to get you the fuck away from here.

  115. says

    No, it doesn’t. The loberst-buying scam artist would have the same amount of benefits no matter what they were intending to buy.

    Why is this so fucking difficult?

    Because that’s not what it’s about. It’s not about some other person getting less, because they aren’t. It’s about what’s (high pitched whine) faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiir (/high pitched whine). I have to use my own money to buy lobster and it’s expensive, why do THEY get to have it they’re poor! That’s a luxury that’s meant to be a reward for hard workers not the poooooooooooooor! It’s like giving dogs stake!

    I’m sure some have valid expenses, such as diapers for their children. But there are other forms of help for that. Not enough, certainly, but they do exist.

    STOP.

    There is, in your own words, not enough help. Ok let me get this straight. There is not enough here. But despite that you are upset at the poor for using the food stamp program to maybe plug this other whole…which you agree is not enough.

    You fucking asshole.

  116. says

    I am impressed with the number of people who don’t seem to realize that food stamps and other forms of welfare are a finite resource. When one person buys something unnecessary, that takes away from another person – someone who may need basic necessities instead of lobster.

    Fuck you. Seriously. I so despise this contemptible, vile, selfish attitude that I’m about ready to ban you for being an ignorant pig.

    The top 1% of this country control 42% of the wealth. Stephen Schwartzman threw himself a $5 million birthday party, and YOU, you parasite, fret that a poor guy who buys himself a lobster is depriving the needy of basic necessities.

    YOU don’t get to hide behind pious concern for the underprivileged while whining about denying them any luxuries at all, no matter how trivial; you saw someone buy a candy bar with foodstamps to get change to buy cigarettes, and instead of seeing that as an affront to human dignity that we so impoverish the poor, instead of wondering why the Walton family can’t cough up some taxes instead of buying another yacht, you want to slap the pennies out of their hand.

    I repeat: fuck you.

  117. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It seems MH doesn’t understand that even those on low incomes, will save for an occasional treat. That can be pizza and beer at a local pub once a month, or even a Boiled New England Dinner once a year. It it happens sporadically, and requires savings, where is the problem? And if food monies are being spent on food, and lobster and steak is food, where is the problem? Or, should we just give poor people grocery bags of surplus food like Velveeta, peanut butter, and cheap bread, and and be done with them?

  118. janine says

    The top 1% of this country control 42% of the wealth. Stephen Schwartzman threw himself a $5 million birthday party, and YOU, you parasite, fret that a poor guy who buys himself a lobster is depriving the needy of basic necessities.

    But think of all the jobs that the party created.

    Oh, fuck it. This kind of sarcasm is even too bitter for me.

  119. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Michael Hawkins, Ah, I see you are still determined to display your cluelessness for all the world to see. Well, speaking of dancing, I notice you have not touched the little morsel several of us have thrown out–the problem of food deserts: urban or rural areas where there simply is NO healthy food to be had.

    If, indeed you have worked in a grocery store, then you will know that most produce departments are a net loss for the store. Way too much spoilage. A mom and pop grocery that serves poor people cannot sustain such a loss. Therefore, it doesn’t carry produce…or much in the way of frozen veggies, since refrigeration is expensive, and frozen pizzas bring in more cash.

    Dude, my wish for you is that one day you will grow enough to be embarrassed by what a clueless, little sanctimonious prick you were in your youth.

  120. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Mike:
    How does this:

    It’s the mistreatment of a human body. I’m not about to stop anyone from doing it because personal autonomy comes into play, but it is still a human body and it is still intentional mistreatment. There isn’t an excuse for it.

    Compared to this:

    In fact, I specifically acknowledged that some people will have it more difficult than others.

    Which is it? Is there no excuse for not being healthy or can we make exceptions for some people, as long as their situation is shitty enough?

    On morality, you said this:

    I have said it is a moral failing to not try to be healthy.

    And, no I’m not lying when I say that for some people, eating healthy is an impossibility, and pointing out that this is something that you’re more than willing to overlook. You have absolutely no idea what crushing poverty is like, do you?

    Come on, dude. We can all read the thread.

    I am impressed with the number of people who don’t seem to realize that food stamps and other forms of welfare are a finite resource.

    Well no fucking shit. Quick, somebody nominate this guy for a Nobel prize in economics!

    So, you’re saying that the lobster-buyers deserve no benefits? Are they a little too uppity for your tastes? ‘Cos really, they get a set amount each month regardless of what they plan to buy. How do you not get this?

    Given that you haven’t understood most of what has been said, that doesn’t surprise me.

    Considering that you can’t even figure out how welfare works, you are in no position to insult anyone else’s intelligence.

    Besides that, welfare is for the needy, not the wanty.

    Seriously, fuck you. The needy shouldn’t want anything? Or they shouldn’t want specific things?

    Nobody is given food stamps because they they want to buy lobster. They are given food stamps because they need help buying food, if they then choose to buy lobster, that’s their business, not mine.

    How about you spell out why the poor don’t deserve nice things? I’m sure it will be enlightening.

    This is about money being allocated for one thing but being used for another. Most times when people do that, it is not for valid reasons.

    Citation really fucking needed. Do you even know how much welfare fraud actually occures?

  121. janine says

    And if food monies are being spent on food, and lobster and steak is food, where is the problem?

    But don’t you see, if someone saves a little bit of money to buy an occasional lobster, it will prevent an other poor person from buying much need food. Or something like that.

  122. says

    @Chigau

    I’m going to even allow that since I hear Crab is now a luxury in Alaska due to over fishing.

    Marky here is so evident of most people.

    He thinks he’s all about what’s right but he’s really about what’s familiar. As a certain villain observed people are happy to go along with a plan even if it’s horrible because it’s the plan. This sort of ‘morality’ is about order not compassion or empathy. It is the order of things and upsetting that upsets little jerks.

  123. says

    My brother has an iPhone. Why? Because I gave it to him. It’s the one I used to use, before I switched to T-Mobile and bought an Android phone.

    He’s on food stamps, even though he works as many hours as he can get (which isn’t many). In a sane world, he would also qualify for disability assistance, but no such luck.

    If anyone kvetches about his supposed ‘wastefulness’, I will personally reach up that person’s rectum and turn their large intestine into a sleeve for his iPhone.

  124. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    janine:

    But don’t you see, if someone saves a little bit of money to buy an occasional lobster, it will prevent an other poor person from buying much need food.

    Lobsters are a finite resource and every time a poor buys one, they’re taking “luxury” foods right out of some rich guy’s mouth.

    For shame, poor people. Making the rich suffer so. For shame.

  125. says

    Nerd:

    Or, should we just give poor people grocery bags of surplus food like Velveeta, peanut butter, and cheap bread, and and be done with them?

    Yeah, just give ‘em govt cheeeeeese, suitable for use as a doorstop, like they did to those Indians on the rez. There are a lot of people who would be thrilled to have access to fresh, cheap seafood and fresh veg. It’s a lot healthier than fried bologna, but hey, they’re poor, who gives a shit, right?

    People like Michael Hawkins make me think Soylent Green isn’t such a bad idea. Except he would taste awful.

  126. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    $20 says Mikey has never struggled a day in his life, never gone hungry, never worried about where he was going to sleep, was never food-insecure.

    The disgusting classism couched in feigned concern for poor people is proof positive.

  127. chigau (私も) says

    What Ing @166 said.
    Every time Michael Hawkins comments here, it takes away from MY ability to comment!

  128. says

    Audley:

    they’re taking “luxury” foods right out of some rich guy’s mouth.

    Remember that ep of Futurama, the tax rebate? Zoidberg is at Elzar’s, getting upset about fish eggs and liver and Elzar says “that’s what rich people eat, the garbage parts of the food.

  129. janine says

    He’s on food stamps, even though he works as many hours as he can get (which isn’t many). In a sane world, he would also qualify for disability assistance, but no such luck.

    I am going to make a wild guess here. His employer will not let him work forty hours a week because at that point, full time benefits will kick in.

  130. walton says

    Yeah, there’s quite a lot of smug, privileged sanctimony going on here. As well as an attempt to return to the Victorian-era dichotomy of “deserving” and “undeserving” poor.

    Being fat is not a moral failing. However, not trying to be healthy is. It’s the mistreatment of a human body.

    Bollocks. What do you mean by “not trying to be healthy”? Aside from the structural socio-economic factors (food deserts and so forth) that make it impossible for many poor people to eat a healthy diet, you seem to be buying into the nonsensical idea that humans have some kind of mystical contra-causal free will, and that we can magically “choose” overnight to overcome all our health problems, addictions and compulsions, just by waving the magic wand of “choice”. The human brain just does not work like that. The idea that health problems are moral failings is judgmental, ignorant bullshit, and has given rise to some of the worst public policies.

    If you don’t want to share your wealth with poor people, then for fuck’s sake be honest enough to say that, rather than inventing this line of dishonest bullshit about people on food stamps being “undeserving” of things you perceive as luxuries. If you’d just said “I like money, and I don’t want the state to tax me to support other people”, it would have been far more honest, and the discussion would have been over far more quickly. But what bothers me is this kind of sanctimonious sitting-in-judgment on other people whose lives you don’t understand at all.

  131. says

    Or, should we just give poor people grocery bags of surplus food like Velveeta, peanut butter, and cheap bread, and and be done with them?

    That’s what many communities do, mostly out of necessity. Food banks generally don’t get enough funding to supply many healthy foods, so they supply what they can when they can. I volunteered at one where the typical mix included a big bottle of Gatorade, canned vegetables, dry pasta, and frozen bread (donated just before expiration, when the store would have thrown it away anyway). It’s still healthier than fried Spam, and definitely healthier than starving to death, but we need to do better. (It’s also worth pointing out that many places don’t even have food banks.)

  132. says

    @137 Niki,

    I haven’t gone comparing prices between states, but I imagine that is the case. However, it is still expensive. At the grocery store nearest to me, it costs about $10 a pound right now. Since people typically buy several lobsters at once, the costs can come in anywhere from $30-100+. It’s ludicrous how much other (quality) food that sort of money could buy.

    @138 We Are Ing,

    I’m almost done with you given just how much you don’t get it. One person wasting money hurts other people. Clearly if Suzy Q can spend half her food stamps on lobster while still not starving the rest of the week, she is not as needy as the amount of funding she gets would imply.

    @139 Dr.,

    You’ve got to be kidding me. What about clothing? And rent? Perhaps we should start funding high-end runway clothes for the poor while we house them in Romney-style mansions. Why not? Clothes are clothes and housing is housing.

    Christ.

    Yes, quitting cigarettes is difficult. I’ve seen plenty of people have a lot of trouble doing it. But it is not impossible. And no, I do not have sympathy for people who wish to spend welfare funds on harmful things. I am happy to subsidize food stamps for people who need food, but fuck you if you want me to subsidize Marlboro.

    People are given benefits based on need (income and family size, for the terminally stupid), not what they would like to buy.

    Many states, including mine, have cut-offs. There is no weening people off welfare. Either you have it or you don’t; it’s a cliff that needs to be fixed (which, incidentally, is the only major policy idea from our moronic Republican governor I support).

    So it is not simply need. Furthermore, where need is a factor (there is a cliff at one end, but some people do get more than others), that does not give someone the right to abuse what they get. If a person “needs” $300 in food stamps a month and $50 of that goes to lobsters without the person starving, that isn’t really “need”, now is it?

    @140 We Are Ing,

    Why do they sell it? Is that your slam dunk? They sell lobster because there is a market for it. Why it is allowed on food stamps, I don’t know. It belongs in the same place as energy drinks.

    Why shouldn’t they be able to use their resources…

    At what point did these become “their” resources? Last time I checked welfare was a resource for everyone in need, not greedy individuals who want to splurge on expensive foods.

    Welfare is here to help society. Buying lobster fails that goal.

    @142 PZ,

    To whom are you talking? All I heard was a repeat of a caricature that’s been going around.

    Good, I’m glad you didn’t have to eat the cheapest foods out there. I’m also glad your parents didn’t buy the most expensive ones. While they are nice to have, no one has an inherent right to eat the best of the best. That also goes for the 1% who should be paying more of their fair share.

    @143 We Are Ing,

    You’re getting tiresome. People would buy those things just over a dollar explicitly for the purpose of buying cigarettes. I would stand there behind my register listening to them discuss what they were going to do, sometimes even ringing things through for quicker math when they asked.

  133. janine says

    Yeah, just give ‘em govt cheeeeeese, suitable for use as a doorstop, like they did to those Indians on the rez.

    But if you give poor people cheese, you will take away their incentive to work. And you will make them dependent on the government. You will make them servants on the federal plantation.

    (More of that deeply bitter sarcasm.)

  134. says

    He’s on food stamps, even though he works as many hours as he can get (which isn’t many). In a sane world, he would also qualify for disability assistance, but no such luck.

    I am going to make a wild guess here. His employer will not let him work forty hours a week because at that point, full time benefits will kick in.

    Nails and heads.

    What makes it worse is that his employer supplies health insurance to all of his other employees (I’m guessing there are about ten to twenty of them), but not to my brother. It’s illegal as fuck, but he won’t report them because he knows he’ll be fired for it, whistle-blower laws be damned. I’m pretty certain the boss is related to the DA. Don’t you just love small towns?

    And he’s doing hard work, too, to the detriment of his health. He works for a print shop and newspaper, so he delivers papers one day a week and runs a press the rest of the week. It’s physically demanding, and anyone else in his condition (severe diabetes, with every complication and symptom that comes with it) would be advised to quit.

  135. janine says

    Good, I’m glad you didn’t have to eat the cheapest foods out there. I’m also glad your parents didn’t buy the most expensive ones. While they are nice to have, no one has an inherent right to eat the best of the best. That also goes for the 1% who should be paying more of their fair share.

    Just remember, the law against sleeping under the bridge applies equally to the poor and to the rich. Is it the fault of the rich that they are more inherently law abiding?

  136. says

    Benjamin:

    Food banks generally don’t get enough funding to supply many healthy foods

    Most food banks rely on donations and most people donate odds and ends out of their pantry. When we lived in SLC, we didn’t contribute to the local food bank, because the wealthy mormon matrons would always show up first thing in the morning and go over everything, taking all the good stuff. Eventually, that was stopped, but it took years upon years to stop it.

    Once it was stopped, rather than going through the pantry to find stuff to donate, I went and shopped for stuff that would make a good meal, including fresh veg, fruit, grains and meat.

  137. says

    I’m so sorry, though, and I apologize to the rich conservatives that we were so wasteful. We didn’t live on a diet of pasta and beans. We didn’t sit forlorn in our house all day long, listening to conservative talk radio. We didn’t shun holidays because festivity was inappropriate to our station. My parents didn’t tell the kids that there would be no birthday or Christmas this year because it wouldn’t be fair to Richard Nixon.

    I spent entire too long of my young adult life being “sorry” for being poor. I grew up on food stamps in the age of the Regan-are welfare queen and much to my shame, I was in a severe financial situation after dropping out of college. Like a proper idiot, not wanting to repeat the “mistakes” of my mother, I held some seriously fucked up “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” Libertarian ideals, so I didn’t get or accept much help, and it led to years of sitting at home (a pay by the week hotel room) because I couldn’t afford bus fare to hang out with friends (because I needed it for work), eating crappy, shunning birthdays and Christmas because if I couldn’t afford to give, I certainly couldn’t afford to receive, and letting my health get more and more poor because “I can wait until I get insurance through my job, like an adult!”

    Luckily I came to my senses and got on food stamps and state insurance (and started living with friends in houses until I could afford to pay rent), and while it’s been too late in some aspects (waiting too long for dental work means now I’m mostly endentulous at 32), in most other aspects of my life, everything has much improved (lingering shame aside).

  138. ibyea says

    Heck, hot foods are not even allowed with food stamps! I know because I have worked with my parents in a deli. I always thought that was really illogical. So buyng a cheesesteak with foodstamp is bad, but good if it you buy cold subs with it? Or the fact that you can buy crabs with food stamp, but for steaming it (a one dollar cost), you can’t use food stamp. Seriously, no wonder people can’t eat healthy if they can’t even buy decent food with food stamps.

  139. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But don’t you see, if someone saves a little bit of money to buy an occasional lobster, it will prevent an other poor person from buying much need food. Or something like that.

    *cue theme music to the Twilight Zone* A serious disconnect from reality with MH.

    Parts of the south side of Chicago are serious food deserts, and they occur all over the US. Here in Lake County the south side of Waukegan and North Chicago are considered food deserts.

  140. says

    I’m almost done with you given just how much you don’t get it. One person wasting money hurts other people. Clearly if Suzy Q can spend half her food stamps on lobster while still not starving the rest of the week, she is not as needy as the amount of funding she gets would imply.

    No it fucking doesn’t, everyone gets the same allowance. It hurts no one but them.

    FOOD STAMPS CARRY OVER YOU IDIOT YOU CAN SAVE THEM

  141. says

    When we lived in SLC, we didn’t contribute to the local food bank, because the wealthy mormon matrons would always show up first thing in the morning and go over everything, taking all the good stuff.

    That’s why the food bank I volunteered for didn’t let the recipients choose. They’d generally honor specific, reasonable requests (for instance, you could request no green beans and extra corn, and you’d probably get it) but pretty much everyone who went in got about the same mix of stuff.

  142. says

    Janine:

    But if you give poor people cheese, you will take away their incentive to work.

    First, you’d have to supply actual cheese. I was around back then and saw, firsthand, that govt ‘cheese’ that Ronnie Raygun was crowing about. Sweet ‘n’ Sour Zombie Jesus, whatever that stuff was, it wasn’t cheese.

  143. says

    At what point did these become “their” resources? Last time I checked welfare was a resource for everyone in need, not greedy individuals who want to splurge on expensive foods.

    A rich person eating lobster every day of the week is all part of the plan. A poor person having a lobster is an outrage.

  144. says

    It’s ludicrous how much other (quality) food that sort of money could buy.

    And if you should ever require state food bennies, you can decide how to spend your own monthly allowance for what you and yours need.

  145. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Caine:

    Remember that ep of Futurama, the tax rebate? Zoidberg is at Elzar’s, getting upset about fish eggs and liver and Elzar says “that’s what rich people eat, the garbage parts of the food.“

    Yes I do. That ep gave me one of my favorite Zoiberg lines: “One art, please!”

    Mikey:

    What about clothing? And rent? Perhaps we should start funding high-end runway clothes for the poor while we house them in Romney-style mansions.

    The fuck? If people are given a certain allowance (which is, you know, how welfare works), then they can buy whatever fucking clothes that they want. If they want to spend more on a more expensive pair of jeans, why the fuck do you care?

    People aren’t getting more money to spend so they can buy more expensive things, idiot.

    Yes, quitting cigarettes is difficult. I’ve seen plenty of people have a lot of trouble doing it. But it is not impossible.

    Says someone who has never tried to quit smoking. For some people, especially in a high-stress situation (poverty is high stress? No way!), it might as well be impossible.

    Have you looked at the prices of stop-smoking aids?

    If a person “needs” $300 in food stamps a month and $50 of that goes to lobsters without the person starving, that isn’t really “need”, now is it?

    And you know that they’re only buying lobster, how? They don’t deserve something nice every one in a while?

    What is the market price of lobster in Maine, anyway? Bet it’s a lot cheaper than trying to buy lobster in Arizona.

  146. says

    Seriously Mike I think what you want is to just give the poor silage. Balanced, cheap, affordable, nutritious. They take the silage and that’s it.

  147. KG says

    From what a number of people have said, I gather that buying healthier foods is considerably harder in much of the USA than in most of the UK – I lived for a while in a poor area of Leeds, but even there, there were shops selling fresh vegetables etc. at reasonable prices quite nearby. In most of continental Europe, I’d say the same is true, perhaps more so; so that may indeed contribute significantly to higher US levels of obesity. But since the correlation of obesity and inequality across societies parallels those of other “social pathologies” with inequality (the pattern appears to cover those that show a socio-economic gradient within societies), I’m still inclined to think the greater socio-economic insecurity of American life is also an important factor. (The inter-societal differences generally show up at all socio-economic levels.)

  148. says

    The Futurama one actually in its comedic way does explain one thing. Zoidberg is constantly impoverished and hungry, why is he wasting his rebate? Because to him the chance to feel like he’s NOT poor for the only time in his life is worth more.

  149. says

    If a person “needs” $300 in food stamps a month and $50 of that goes to lobsters without the person starving, that isn’t really “need”, now is it?

    Again the problem is that you want the poor to be poorer. It’s not enough to just struggle you want them actually starving.

  150. janine says

    First, you’d have to supply actual cheese. I was around back then and saw, firsthand, that govt ‘cheese’ that Ronnie Raygun was crowing about. Sweet ‘n’ Sour Zombie Jesus, whatever that stuff was, it wasn’t cheese.

    My family was on welfare during the Reagan years, I know about that cheese.

    Part of the reason why I hated Reagan during my high school years was because it when he spoke of “welfare queens”, it sound like he was insulting my mom. And our life was nothing like that life of luxury. It was not until I was in college that I realized just how racist that cant was.

  151. says

    First, you’d have to supply actual cheese. I was around back then and saw, firsthand, that govt ‘cheese’ that Ronnie Raygun was crowing about. Sweet ‘n’ Sour Zombie Jesus, whatever that stuff was, it wasn’t cheese.

    Sweet n’ Sour Zombie Jesus indeed. I think my intestines cramped up in remembrance of that crap.

    ..or was that the government issued peanut butter that was supposed to stop you up?

    Whatever it was, I’m so glad they’ve stopped handing out that crap and letting people buy what food they wish.

  152. says

    What is the market price of lobster in Maine, anyway? Bet it’s a lot cheaper than trying to buy lobster in Arizona.

    Price of lobster in Maine, as of mid-2009.

    Of course you don’t need a Ph.D. in economics to know what happens when supply is up and demand is way down. The wholesale or “boat” price of lobsters has crashed from a peak price of about $10 a pound in the winter of 2006 — average prices in recent years have hovered around $4.50 a pound — to a mere $2.25 today. “We’re basically off the charts historically in terms of low prices for this time of year,” says John Sackton, a Lexington, Mass.-based seafood industry consultant. (While retail prices vary widely by location, stores in New England have been running specials on live lobster for as little as $5 or $6 per pound.)

  153. says

    Also:

    NOAA Market News Lobster report.

    BOSTON SHIPPERS’ MARKET PRICES

    Prices are in cents per pound for purchased or consigned stocks of good merchantable quality in the usual wholesale quantities and cover sales by original receivers (until 11:45 a.m.) December 15, 2011

    SHELLFISH

    LOBSTERS, LIVE: Sup light, Demand light, Market firmer
    Native: (ex-vessel price to fishermen)

    Boston: some $3.50
    North Shore: some $3.25
    South Shore: some $3.50-3.75

  154. says

    Ah so Mikey is willing to not lie per-say, but to intentionally mislead people by naming Lobster as the offending dish, known for being expensive, when really it’s always lower priced in the area it’s fished (duh) and at an all time low price.

  155. ChasCPeterson says

    *refreshes*
    heh, I see the discussion has gone elsewhere since I started typing this and then did some other stuff and then finished it. Not very relevant anymore, but now it’s all typed and shit. Oh, and it’s got some links and might not post anyway…but:

    But as far as the metabolism go, “calories in, calories out” is indeed the bottom line.

    Citation needed

    lol. What are you, a first-law-of-thermodynamics denialist?
    May I present a formal organismal energy budget? It works for any animal, and with slight modification any organism.

    The chemical potential energy in the food you eat and the beverages you drink is Intake (I). The chemical potential energy in the shit and piss you excrete is Excreta (E). The difference represents the energy Assimilated (A; not Absorbed, in part because urinary losses are absorbed before being lost).
    I-E=A
    Some of the Assimilated chemical potential energy is Metabolized (M). Metabolized energy is either used to do cellular work or wasted in ineluctable inefficiencies (2LoT), but either way it is lost as heat. The difference between energy Assimilated and Metabolized is Stored (S), mostly as relatively saturated triacylglycerides (fat), which are the specialized long-term energy storage molecules stored in the specialized fat-storage cells called adipocytes.
    A=M+S, and so
    (I-E)=(M+S)
    It has to work this way; it’s the first law of thermodynamics. Just divide everything by the same amount of time to get rates (per day, per year, whatever).
    Rearranging to isolate S, the rate of fat storage (can be negative):
    S=(I-E)-M
    Therefore rates of weight gain and loss are affected by rates of energy:
    -Intake (a behavior, but one with very strong physiological/psychological/hormonal/neurohormonal influences)
    -Excretion (purely physiological, but subject to change by surgery or drugs that decrease absorption or chemical digestion)
    -Metabolism (physiological but also, because muscle contraction is one of the most energy-expensive things our bodies can do and because our muscles are under voluntary control, behavioral)

    That’s it. The article linked is about sources of biological variation in the physiological control of I (which is highly complex and as yet poorly understood) and M. Which exist, but in no way contradict the basic energy budget, and in no way erase its behavioral components.

    There is also this article from a few years ago about how gut flora composition affects weight; “calories in” doesn’t mean how many you eat as much as it means how many your intestines use.

    You’ve linked that article before, and I think you misrepresent it every time. In this case, I don;t know what you mean by “how many your intestines use”–do you mean energy used (i.e. metabolized) by the intestines (and, presumably, their flora), or (what I think you mean) how much energy is absorbed by the intestines?

    Unfortunately the article was written by somebody who doesn’t know much physiology, e.g.:

    [The gut flora] digests complex plant polysaccharides, the fiber found in grains, fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be indigestible. And it helps extract calories from the food we eat…

    As far as I can tell this says the same thing twice. The second way, which recurs throughout the article, is weird. We don’t “extract calories from food,” we break down the big food molecules into ones that are small enough to absorb. Calories don’t exist separately from molecules, and chemistry is what’s happening here.

    …and helps store those calories in fat cells for later use

    uh…How? (Whenever physiology students say that a structure or protein ‘helps do X’ it means they don’t understand the mechanism.) The only hint I can find in the article is:

    some common gut bacteria, including B. theta, suppress the protein FIAF, which ordinarily prevents the body from storing fat. By suppressing FIAF, B. theta allows fat deposition to increase.

    FIAF (I had to look it up myself) is Fasting-Induced Adipose Factor. It’s apparently an endocrine signal that is upregulated during chronic fasting to increase fat mobilization and decrease fat storage. So although the mechanism makes sense, I’d never summarize it as microbes ‘helping’ cells to store calories as fat. But anyway.

    Here’s the rest of the gut-flora mechanism:

    it may be that not everyone will extract 110 calories from a cup of Cheerios. Some may extract more, some less, depending on the particular combination of microbes in their guts. “A diet has a certain amount of absolute energy,” he said. “But the amount that can be extracted from that diet may vary between individuals

    Again, this business of ‘energy extraction’–ugh. In the energy budget above, this gut-flora effect would be represented as a decrease in E. Some gut-flora microbes have enzymes we don’t that break down certain complex carbohydrates to absorbable sizes/forms. People without those microbes just shit those carbohydrates on out (and call it ‘fiber’), people with them do not–instead the energy in those carbohydrtes is used by the microbe’s metabolism (heat) or incorporated into more microbes (which are shit out anyway, at about the same rate they are produced), and apparently some of it may actually be absorbed by the person’s large intestine and become part of A instead. You could think of it as a slight increase in digestive efficiency (=A/I, more or less). I would predict this effect to be small relative to that of exercise-behavior on M and diet-behavior on I. And the article seems to confirm this:

    the amount that can be extracted from that diet may vary between individuals — not in a huge way, but if the energy balance is affected by just a few calories a day, over time that can make a big difference in body weight.

    So the gut flora thing is at best one small factor among many. As the article itself says:

    But where does this leave us, exactly? Whatever the reason for any one individual’s tendency to gain weight, the only way to lose the weight is to eat less and exercise more.

    That is, the two behaviors involved. Of course, those are two very difficult things to do, each influenced by a large and complex network of hormonal, biochemical/physiological, genetic, psychological, and cultural factors and therefore characterized by huge individual variation. I am not arguing otherwise, and I have the belly to prove I’m no different.
    But none of this complexity changes the energy budget. It really is just in-out.

  156. says

    Niki M:

    Sweet n’ Sour Zombie Jesus indeed. I think my intestines cramped up in remembrance of that crap.

    That’s okay, just drink a bottle of vegetable. (Remember that whole catsup is a vegetable business?)

  157. carolw says

    Michael Heath, I hope you are really fucking secure in your job. And your partner as well, if you have one. You have no idea how quickly you can go from your lofty “oh, poor people don’t deserve lobster” perch to needing assistance yourself. I’m sure you think it can’t happen, that you’ve got savings and investments and a good job. But layoffs happen. Companies downsize. New jobs are hard to find, and expenses eat up your savings quickly in this economy. And what if your car has to go in the shop, or you go in the hospital? Any of us is just a matter of months from applying for food stamps. Then you’ll see. Those of us who grew up poor, or who are still poor, know how it is. You’d be lost like a babe in the woods. I’d love to see you buy two weeks’ worth of groceries for two people for less than $100.00. I do it on a regular basis.

  158. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Somebody gave the Redhead a container of surplus peanut butter a while back. It was good as mouse bait and silverware polish, and little else.

  159. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Oh god, these peanut butter cookies are divine.

    Hm, I wonder if all of the ingredients are on Mikey’s “approved” list. There’s some really unhealthy things in here.

    Ben G:
    So my gut was right– lobster isn’t really all that expensive in Maine. Thanks for the cite.

    (Jesus Christ, I spent more per pound on beef the last time I bought it. Lobster’s about the same price as ground chuck.)

  160. janine says

    That’s okay, just drink a bottle of vegetable. (Remember that whole catsup is a vegetable business?)

    Reminds me of one of my favorite t-shirts from that time period. A cartoon of a bottle of ketchup and of RR’s head and the question: Which one is the vegetable?

    Imagine how not surprised many of us were when news came out that he suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease.

  161. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Let that sink in, Mikey: Lobster in Maine is (per pound) as cheap as buying ground chuck.

    You know what I use ground chuck for, Mikey? Chili. It’s a crappy quality of meat, only good if you’re cooking the crap out of it. Do the poors deserve ground chuck and if so, why not lobster, too?

  162. says

    Dr. Darkheart:

    Ben G:
    So my gut was right– lobster isn’t really all that expensive in Maine. Thanks for the cite.

    Now I don’t feel nearly as guilty as I’m apparently supposed to be about the six lobsters I devoured one July 4th while visiting the ex-roomie’s family in Maine (don’t laugh, it was my first time having any).

    Don’t worry, Mikey, I didn’t pay a single food stamp dime for them. Heck, I even helped pull the traps, so I guess I even “earned” them.

  163. says

    PZ:

    I made it through grad school on government cheese. I think it was a petroleum byproduct with lots of artificial dyes.

    That sounds about right. Way back, I would have starved if it weren’t for the Generic brand. (White labels, blue stripe, read Generic _____). I was working, but by the time I budgeted my rent, gas to get to work, etc., I had about $9.00 a week for food. It took well over a decade for me to even look at tuna again and I still look askance at cheap ramen. Generic label Ramen is depressing. Not as depressing as govt cheese, but still, not good.

  164. chigau (私も) says

    When I was in University Ichiban Ramen was 4 packs for $1. We refused to buy the cheap stuff.

  165. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Niki:

    Now I don’t feel nearly as guilty as I’m apparently supposed to be about the six lobsters I devoured one July 4th while visiting the ex-roomie’s family in Maine (don’t laugh, it was my first time having any).

    Six…

    … and it was your first time having lobster…

    … How did you manage to not shit yourself? O.o

  166. janine says

    That sounds about right. Way back, I would have starved if it weren’t for the Generic brand. (White labels, blue stripe, read Generic _____).

    We would eat the Aldi knock off brands before we would touch that stuff.

    I guess we were not poor enough if we were that snobbish.

  167. says

    Save-a-Lot brands are actually pretty good. I haven’t had Aldi foods.

    ####

    I’ve only had intact lobster once. It was… pretty bad. Rubbery and bland, even. I’m thinking it was inept preparation rather than bad food, though.

    I’ve had shredded lobster a few times, but I couldn’t tell what the flavor was, so it doesn’t really count.

  168. says

    Chigau:

    When I was in University Ichiban Ramen was 4 packs for $1. We refused to buy the cheap stuff.

    It didn’t stay that cheap. I couldn’t afford it. Well, I could have bought it, but it would have meant not being able to get other stuff, like oranges.

    I well remember the time when Mister and I were set to start new jobs, but had run out our savings moving and paying first/last/deposit, etc., and setting aside what little we had left for gas to get to the jobs when they started, which was in a month.

    We went to the welfare office (this was in SoCal) and after waiting 7.5 hours, had the privilege of being told we were too well off to qualify for aid. We kept explaining our situation over and over, that we just needed a little help until we started working, “little help” translating to “may we please have some money for food!?” A deal was worked out, we were given $80.00 in food vouchers and had to agree to work 60 hours community service each in return. We would have signed over our non-existent souls to get food at that point.

    You want to know when a market full of food is torture? When you’re in there, with $80.00 and you need a month’s worth of food for two people. Pretty much everything you look at, you can’t afford.

  169. says

    Six…

    … and it was your first time having lobster…

    … How did you manage to not shit yourself? O.o

    …I have no idea.

    Though, if I could venture a guess, maybe my stomach remembered summers of sitting at a table (and not leaving until the food was gone – it was either that or face anxiety driven conversations or babysitting) with a Low Country Boil (blue crab, potatoes, sausage, shrimp) during 4th gatherings growing up in Georgia?

    I LOVE shelled seafood and have an insane history of overeating to avoid conversations.

  170. says

    Between my last two posts about 30 comments were made, so it is becoming nearly impossible for me to keep up. I will try to address the biggest points.

    @147 & 156 PZ,

    When a homeless person asks you for money, which would you rather do given the option: Give them twenty dollars or buy them a meal and a new shirt? I would do the latter because I want to make that person be better off, not just feel better off.

    I know you, along with most other people here, believe I am nothing but a Reagan-loving Republican, but as I’ve already said, I am not. In fact, I am not even remotely libertarian. I would never vote for any Republican currently running (bar maybe Huntsman), and I have never voted Republican in my life. I do not support the 1%, I think it’s horseshit that the Occupy protests (on public land) have been broken up so frequently, and I wish the President could succeed in raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. The income gap we have is a massive problem, giving money away to the wealthy does not create jobs, and it is awful when people can throw million dollar parties yet refuse to pay slightly higher taxes.

    That said, I have no interest in subsidizing expensive foods for anyone. That temporarily benefits a few taste buds, but it does nothing to help the poor. It is wasted money that could and should be allocated much more effectively.

    On the abuse of the system to buy cigarettes, I am not the only one who wanted to “slap the pennies” from the abusers’ hands. Virtually every state now has food stamp debit cards. Moreover, most states ban at least some items from being bought with these cards. But hey, why don’t we just add Pall Mall’s and Virginia Slims to the mix? Would you like to do that, PZ? If not, then fuck you for hating the poor, amirite?

    Get real. There are ways to help the poor and then there are ways to use funds irresponsibly. You wouldn’t want contractors to continue charging the government $600 for hammers even though doing so probably created at least a few jobs for people who needed contracting work in order to support their families and keep their homes. Other than emotion, I don’t see what reason you have for your double standards. Yes, let’s help the poor. In fact, increase food stamp funding. But don’t let it be spent on just anything. It is there to adequately feed people so that they be as healthy as someone with money.

    @157 Nerd,

    It it happens sporadically, and requires savings, where is the problem?

    There isn’t much of one in that case. But it doesn’t happen just sporadically. This is a monthly thing. I have distant family members who sell their food stamps for cash so that they can go get cigarettes (or, in one case, harder drugs). It isn’t typical for most poor people to specifically do this (which is why laws in Florida and other states requiring drug tests are stupid), but the selling of food stamps is fairly common.

    @159 a_ray,

    Yes, there are areas where it is impossible to get much, if any, healthy food. I don’t expect those people to be able to put forth the same effort as, say, PZ.

    @161 Dr.,

    Stop calling me “Mike”. My name is Michael.

    Look at what I said. Intentional mistreatment of a human body is a moral issue. Highly difficult problems, such as poverty and constraint on time, make neglect incidental, not intentional.

    And, no I’m not lying when I say that for some people, eating healthy is an impossibility, and pointing out that this is something that you’re more than willing to overlook.

    No, you aren’t lying when you say it is an impossibility. You’re wrong, certainly, but I don’t think you’re lying. However, when you say, once again, that I have overlooked anything, you are lying. Stop it.

    They are given food stamps because they need help buying food, if they then choose to buy lobster, that’s their business, not mine.

    It’s cute that apparently I’m the libertarian in this thread, yet people like you are perfectly happy to take such stances. The only difference is that your libertarianism only kicks in after society’s money has been allocated. (By the by, you do realize that you aren’t giving just your money to people, right?)

    How about you spell out why the poor don’t deserve nice things? I’m sure it will be enlightening.

    I’ve largely ignored statements like this because they’re patently stupid. The poor deserve plenty. I don’t want to buy them, or anyone for that matter, a lobster. I don’t see why I should. In fact, since you’re making the positive claim here, it is up to you to explain why my money – money intended to help those in need – should go to those in mere want. Not want of basic needs, not want of a fair shake, not want of better opportunities. No, merely want of the best of the best. But maybe you’re with PZ and we should buy the poor three piece suits and mansions.

    @164 Benjamin,

    This appears to be based on nothing more than a caricature. Even if I really was a Ron Paul-loving, Reagan-blowing Republican like everyone seems to believe, I don’t see how gift giving even factors in here.

    @168 Illuminata,

    You’re right. I have always had access to food, warmth, and even plenty of entertainment. I am extremely fortunate materially and I am grateful to my parents, grandparents, and other friends and family members for that. But that doesn’t mean I want to subsidize lobster.

    @171 janine,

    That raises an interesting point. Do allow people the option of working for cheaper (i.e., no or reduced benefits) or do we keep the efforts of the unions in place? It sounds to me like you would favor something along the lines of the first option.

    @172 Walton,

    The idea that health problems are moral failings…

    Can you quote where I said that? (I’ll save you some time: I never said any such thing. Being unhealthy and having difficult issues will alter what constitutes an honest effort by one person versus another. PZ, for example, has had certain health issues relatively recently, so he may be limited by them. I wouldn’t expect him to run a marathon anytime soon. However, if he (or anyone) does not do all that is reasonably in his power to try to be healthy, that is a moral issue.

    Of course I want to share my VAST HUGE FUCKING WEALTH with poor people. (I actually had to recently solicit pro bono help in a recent legal issue with a quack doctor, I’m so rich.) I just don’t want to subsidize expensive and/or unhealthy items.

    If you’d just said “I like money, and I don’t want the state to tax me to support other people”, it would have been far more honest, and the discussion would have been over far more quickly.

    I don’t want my taxes to go up mostly because I am in a low-income bracket. Raising them wouldn’t personally hurt me much, but it would impact many others. As I have said before, we ought to tax the wealthiest 1% more than we do.

    @173 Benjamin,

    Increased funding/subsidizing of food banks is something I think is a great idea. It would be an efficient way to feed the needy without wasting taxpayer money.

  171. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Michael, you’re an asshole. You’re a judgemental, blinkered, priggish asshole. People like you are part of why the poor have it so bad in this country. Go fuck off and die.

  172. says

    This appears to be based on nothing more than a caricature. Even if I really was a Ron Paul-loving, Reagan-blowing Republican like everyone seems to believe, I don’t see how gift giving even factors in here.

    No, it’s based on the (multiple) people saying, “if he’s that poor, then why does he have an iPhone (/HDTV/fancy shoes)?” The point is that there are legitimate reasons to own such things, even if one is, in fact, that poor (and that leaves out the other point: they weren’t necessarily poor forever).

  173. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I have distant family members who sell their food stamps for cash so that they can go get cigarettes (or, in one case, harder drugs).

    And who the fuck are you to tell them what to do? Signed letter from your imaginary deity, or shut the fuck up. Typical egotistical and non-thinking RWA. Better known as a fuckwitted idjit. The banhammer can’t come to soon for such insipidity, non-congency, and just plain stupidity.

  174. beaunidle says

    The problem with “calories in, calories out” is that it is a very simple statement about a very complex process and it is most often used to shame and insult the overweight.

    I am not a stupid person, but I have been overweight my entire life. I have counted calories. I have had gym memberships. I have tried just about every diet out there, including a doctor supervised diet, but I am still overweight. My last attempt included joining Sparkpeople and tracking my calories in and out. I was eating 60% complex carbs, 30% lean protein and 10% fat. After 3 months, I had gained 3 pounds. I was eating between 1,400 and 1,500 calories a day with a starting weight of 253 pounds. Based on calories in and out, there is no way I should have been able to gain weight. After this failure, I was ready to give up and try to accept my fat self. I was depressed and would drag my exhausted ass home from work each day and collapse on the couch. I ended up gaining a further 16 pounds.

    My breakthrough came from reading a book that has been mentioned here on Pharyngula a few times – Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. I switched to a low carb diet and lost 60 pounds eating the same number of calories as before and making no other changes to my activity levels.

    The explanation given in the book is insulin resistance. Carbs are stored as fat before they can be used for energy, leaving people exhausted and looking for more energy through food, leading to more and more weight gain.

    So the bottom line may be calories in, calories out, but not every calorie is the same and it doesn’t help anyone to say the answer is so simple when it really isn’t.

  175. says

    Mikey’s a fucking ignorant idiot.

    My wife was the manager of a regional welfare-to-work program. The percentage of people who were abusing the system was insignificant compared to the people the program helped. Were there people who didn’t even try? Yes. But most looked for work, wanted to work.

    Vilifying folks who fucking need help is nothing more than the ignorant bleatings of a privileged asshole.

  176. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Okay, I’ve been called a lot of things, but libertarian is about as far off the mark as you can get. You do realize that libertarians are opposed to government provided welfare, don’t you?

    And kindly point out where I called you a libertarian. Direct quotes, please.

    You’re wrong, certainly, but I don’t think you’re lying.

    Food deserts. They have been discussed in this thread, so either you’re being willfully ignorant or you’re denying that they exist. Which is it?

    I don’t want to buy them, or anyone for that matter, a lobster. I don’t see why I should. In fact, since you’re making the positive claim here, it is up to you to explain why my money – money intended to help those in need – should go to those in mere want.

    Once it leaves your pocket, it’s not your money any longer, jackass. This isn’t about what you want, sorry.

    You still haven’t explained how you know that those dirty, dirty lobster buyers simply want, which makes you look especially dishonest considering that Ben has shown how inexpensive it is to buy lobster in Maine.

    But that’s beside the point. Where do we draw the line between what someone wants and what someone needs when it comes to food? Surely, no one needs beef, would you deny them that? They don’t need condiments, should those be off the rolls, too? They don’t need brown sugar or yeast or any baking supplies, are those right out, too?

    Here’s the difference between you and I: I’m not willing to take away someone’s dignity. There shouldn’t be food that is “too good” or “too expensive” for food stamp beneficiaries– if they’re getting an allowance, they should be given the respect of being able to spend it how they wish.

    Who knows? They may have saved for lobster. They might be forgoing something else to buy it. Lobster might be mind blowingly inexpensive. They might just be sick and tired of mac and cheese every night. How do you know otherwise?

    But maybe you’re with PZ and we should buy the poor three piece suits and mansions.

    Where did I say that? It seems as though you can’t actually respond to my really really real arguments, so you’re creating new ones out of whole cloth.

    Here’s what I’ve been saying this entire fucking time: Welfare beneficiaries should be able to spend their bennies as they see fit. If you think that welfare will provide for a hand made Italian suit or a McMansion, boy oh boy, have I got a bridge to sell you.

    And, really, how is this not an extension of the “welfare queen” argument. Those poors, buying nice things that they don’t deserve! They’re all gaming the system!

  177. Sili says

    Now, now, don’t be cruel to Mike.

    Foodstamps are almost a whole half percent of US GDP. Imagine how good the economy would be if only you stopped wasting that $65e9 on keeping poor, unproductive spongers alive.

    And when they’re dead they’ll waste even less money. You might even be able to use them to warm your houses in Winter, reducing your reliance on foreign oil.

  178. says

    Audley:

    They might just be sick and tired of mac and cheese every night.

    You don’t even wanna know just how fast you can get sick and tired of generic mac ‘n’ cheese in a box.

  179. chigau (私も) says

    Caine

    You don’t even wanna know just how fast you can get sick and tired of generic mac ‘n’ cheese in a box.

    What? Even if you chop a generic wiener into it?
    *rech*

  180. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I want to point out that Michael Hawkins is badly behaved on a lot of fronts. If I remember correctly he’s been a douche about sexism issues around here too.

    For those of you who don’t recall, he’s the blogger who got threatened with a lawsuit by the quack naturopathic doctor Christopher Maloney. PZ et al rightly defended him, and quite vocally.

    It pisses me off that he’s such an asshole that I have the wicked thought that I (almost) wish I hadn’t spoken up in his favor.

  181. Brownian says

    I move that we all stop using the phrase “the poor”.

    What, and be denied the opportunity to other? Why, next you’ll ask us to talk about ‘criminals’ and ‘law-abiding citizens’ as if they weren’t from two fundamentally different populations, one bright and shining, the other evil and twisted.

  182. janine says

    That raises an interesting point. Do allow people the option of working for cheaper (i.e., no or reduced benefits) or do we keep the efforts of the unions in place? It sounds to me like you would favor something along the lines of the first option.

    Micheal, by what means of rational thought did you come to that conclusion?

  183. says

    So poor people ™ should all eat healthily and it’s their fault if they don’t, but damn them if they dare touch a cheap source of protein rich, low-fat seafood!!!

    Yes if everyone spends ALL their food stamps that they are entitled to then the poor military won’t be able to afford that new set of multi-million dollar jets they always wanted. And what will we bail the banks out with next time at billions of dollars a go!!!

    Yup. Thats only slightly less fucked up than the US food situation as a whole. I went to California, and I put more weight on in that 2 weeks than in the previous 5 years. And I really wasn’t trying to.

  184. Brownian says

    You don’t even wanna know just how fast you can get sick and tired of generic mac ‘n’ cheese in a box.

    Being sick of the same kind of food is what incentivises you to become a doctor or a lawyer, otherwise we’d (*ahem* I meant you’d, as my reasons for doing things are noble and pure, whereas everyone else is a lazy good-for-nothing who’d suck me dry if I let them) all sit around eating lobsters and talking on our iPhones.

  185. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Also:

    But maybe you’re with PZ and we should buy the poor three piece suits and mansions.

    You know…

    … Everyone needs a suit. Imagine if that guy who uses food stamps has a job interview– he’s more likely to get a job if he’s nattily dressed. Or, you know, everyone has events that they attend that require a nicer caliber of clothing: weddings, funerals, etc etc.

    Or would you rather have welfare recipients look, well, like bums? Kind of like a scarlet letter, only it’s with the entire outfit. Would that sooth your ego a little bit?

  186. says

    @180 ibyea,

    I think the idea there is two-fold. First, the ban is on prepared foods. That prevents people from using their food stamps at restaurants. Second, my guess is there is some factor involving the extra cost associated with preparing food. I don’t see the big difference between preparing a hot sub versus a cold sub, but that may have something to do with it. At any rate, rules like that ought to be fixed so that food stamps can’t be used at, say, Applebee’s, but they can be used to buy certain prepared foods like at a deli.

    @186 Niki,

    If I ever need assistance, I will recognize that it is up to the voters and those they elected to decide what restrictions are placed on the money they are giving me. Welfare is for the good of society, not just the individual. (In case anyone is wondering, my positions have largely been utilitarian, such as here, not libertarian. But everyone continue making up their own narrative)

    @187 Dr.,

    Okay, I have $500 to spend on whatever. I spend $450 on a pair of designer jeans. The other $50 goes to things I need. What happens next month? Oh, gee, I still need more money because I didn’t bother to get what I needed the first time around? How does this help anyone? Is the welfare recipient better off? Will he be able to pay his rent more easily? Can he now afford the insurance for his vehicle he needs in order to work?

    For some people, especially in a high-stress situation (poverty is high stress? No way!), it might as well be impossible.

    If this was a different site, I might wonder if next you were going to tell me that evolution is impossible.

    And you know that they’re only buying lobster, how? They don’t deserve something nice every one in a while?

    First, my scenario had them buying $50 in lobster, not only lobster. Second, I set up an if/then scenario where I defined the parameters with numbers used for the sake of example. Third, people buy lobster with their food stamps all the time. It occurs more frequently around the holidays and in the summer, if you must know. Fourth, your rhetoric, while effective by virtue of being repeated by so many, is plainly stupid. I’m all for people getting nice things once in awhile. I’m not for paying subsidizing them. But maybe you would be okay with giving someone welfare while they live in a mansion. Why not? Housing is housing.

    Again, yes, lobster is cheaper here than most other places. That doesn’t mean it isn’t expensive. The grocery store nearest to me sells it for $9.99/lb at the moment.

    @189 KG,

    What you gather is pure bias and fact selecting. Most places in the US have grocery stores with produce sections. In fact, most Americans live within 20 miles of a Wal-Mart, and most Wal-Marts have grocery and produce. And that isn’t even taking into account all the other competition. It’s hard to find stats on something like this, but most Americans do not have difficult access to quality foods.

    @194 Benjamin,

    Yes, lobster prices fell greatly a few years ago, but the first numbers you have were the wholesale price – what the actual lobster men get. Then the second numbers you had were for specials. Most lobster, even 6 years ago, was expensive. Moreover, people rarely buy a single lobster. Why would you? Everyone knows it’s a special item, so it is eaten by larger groups. Furthermore, I’ve rarely seen a single lobster fill anyone up. So if we’re talking about feeding only 2-3 people, we’re probably talking about 4-6 lobsters. At 2 lbs a piece, we have 8-12 lbs. At $10 a pop, we’re nearing the hundred dollar range. I can think of better uses for that amount of money in order to feed a few people. Hell, that’s my grocery bill for nearly two weeks.

    And again, in your next post, you list wholesale prices. That’s misleading and isn’t what people are buying with food stamps. Moreover, people who do buy lobster wholesale buy it in bulk. (And, in fact, the link you gave for basically dockside, wholesale lobster, was a special for a specific group of people, not the general public.)

    @201 carolw,

    First, “Michael Heath” is the name of a bigoted Christian leader here in Maine. (Though he isn’t as relevant as he was 5 years ago.) I know insults are flying around here, but c’mon. He’s like the Rick Warren of Maine.

    My job is not entirely secure because of its nature, but yes, I am fortunate to be where I am. I am unlikely to be out of work tomorrow, and so that is also fortunate. And should I find myself unemployed, that will be unfortunate and I may have to turn to state assistance. I’ve never said I don’t support it. I have even said I support increasing food stamp funding. Furthermore, where there is a cliff-effect, that should be fixed. (That is where people make a certain amount of money and they lose all assistance. It discourages people from making more and for the many who do find themselves getting back on their feet, it makes things unnecessarily difficult.)

    @Niki 207,

    It depends when you were here, but that probably cost $50-70.

  187. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Caine:

    You don’t even wanna know just how fast you can get sick and tired of generic mac ‘n’ cheese in a box.

    I can imagine. Blech.

  188. Brownian says

    What I don’t understand about all of this is that, if we all know and agree that the threat of poverty and going without is what gives us incentive to work, then how come I still have to lick some job-creator’s taint in a job interview? How come I have to lie? “I’ve always been fascinated by food service”, I say. “I feel your organisation will provide the challenges I seek,” I plead.

    The only reason that I don’t simply say “You’re offering money for my labour, and I need to pay my rent. What, are you stupid or something?” in job interviews is that I hate the lying, bullshitting process so fucking much I’ll spend years in a job I hate rather than have to smile through gritted teeth and tell somebody it’s always been my dream to answer their phones and enter their data.

  189. Brownian says

    Yes, lobster prices fell greatly a few years ago, but the first numbers you have were the wholesale price – what the actual lobster men get. Then the second numbers you had were for specials. Most lobster, even 6 years ago, was expensive. Moreover, people rarely buy a single lobster. Why would you? Everyone knows it’s a special item, so it is eaten by larger groups. Furthermore, I’ve rarely seen a single lobster fill anyone up. So if we’re talking about feeding only 2-3 people, we’re probably talking about 4-6 lobsters. At 2 lbs a piece, we have 8-12 lbs. At $10 a pop, we’re nearing the hundred dollar range. I can think of better uses for that amount of money in order to feed a few people. Hell, that’s my grocery bill for nearly two weeks.

    I see the problem. These terrible poor people buying hundreds of dollars worth of lobster for all their friends with your money exist solely in your head.

    Have you thought of shooting them?

    But, before you do that, please look up fundamental attribution error, you fucking moron.

  190. says

    I’ll spend years in a job I hate rather than have to smile through gritted teeth and tell somebody it’s always been my dream to answer their phones and enter their data.

    I’ve done the same in the past; usually, I’d only quit when it became obvious that if I don’t quit right now, I’ll be fired for insufficiently giving a fuck in a couple weeks, anyway.

    I dread the moment when my self-employment-income-source dries up and I have to re-start that bullshit

  191. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    and talking on our iPhones.

    Anybody, especially MH, ever think folks might have owned the iPhone prior to being fired in a downsizing? Or that without a phone, the job search is that much harder? It is not required to give up all assets prior to obtaining assistance. Some RWA/liberturd types seem to think they must lose everything including the clothes on their backs in order to be eligible for assistance,

    If I were as mean as MH, I would hope that he gets fired, and has to live on assistance for a while. It would make him smarter and more empathetic towards those in need, because he deserves all the empathy he has shown others mirrored back to him for his posts today.

  192. says

    I have distant family members who sell their food stamps for cash so that they can go get cigarettes (or, in one case, harder drugs).

    And your point? People game the system all the fucking time. That doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with the system. And using stamps as a way to get non-food items or drugs DOES NOT EQUAL buying food that you don’t approve of. You see, one of these things is already illegal.

    If the illegal behavior bothers you that much, either turn your relatives in or STFU because you’re a part of the fucking fraud problem.

    But maybe you’re with PZ and we should buy the poor three piece suits and mansions.

    Cite the exact quote or continue to STFU.

    Actually, as one of those poor persons who apparently don’t deserve nice things, take your suits and your mansion and shove it. (is it too early to summon a porcupine?)

  193. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    I move that Michael is given a lobster as a goodbye gift instead of a porcupine. I’m honestly sick of hearing about it and if he is so attached to those damned lobsters, he is welcome to attach one (or three) to himself permanently. He might to have to pull his head out before inserting them, though.

  194. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    (is it too early to summon a porcupine?)

    No, he’s familiar with them due to prior idiocy of his.

  195. Brownian says

    Anybody, especially MH, ever think folks might have owned the iPhone prior to being fired in a downsizing?

    No. You see, there are hard-working people like Michael Hawkins, and then there are the poor, who are all lazy, shiftless assholes single-handedly keeping the lobster industry alive with their gargantuan appetites. People are either of one population or the other, and they don’t switch. A person who thoughtfully considers the utility of an iPhone (or balances out their grocery bill) will never be food-stamp poor, and a person who’s food stamp poor clearly bought that iPhone with the sole intent of living off of people like Michael’s largesse.

  196. says

    Okay, I have $500 to spend on whatever. I spend $450 on a pair of designer jeans. The other $50 goes to things I need. What happens next month? Oh, gee, I still need more money because I didn’t bother to get what I needed the first time around? How does this help anyone?

    First of all, unless you can eat Levis, your comment has nothing to do with this discussion.

    Second, the jeans will probably still be usable the next month, which means the buyer doesn’t need to buy more jeans.

    Third, often it’s worth investing in quality items. I used to go through two or three pairs of cheap shoes per year, but a long while ago I bought two pairs of shoes (one athletic, one business-casual) and both are still going strong. Cost per wearing is actually lower, despite the higher initial investment.

    But maybe you would be okay with giving someone welfare while they live in a mansion. Why not? Housing is housing.

    Exactly. Perhaps a relative left the mansion to them. Perhaps they bought the mansion before the economy tanked and they lost their job.

    What’s your point?

    (And, in fact, the link you gave for basically dockside, wholesale lobster, was a special for a specific group of people, not the general public.)

    [citation needed]

    My point is that lobster prices are still lower than their earlier prices. According to the CNN story, in mid-2009, wholesale prices were $2.25 per pound and stores were selling lobster for about $5-6 per pound. Now, wholesale prices are close to $3.25 (still lower than the $4.50 or higher they had been averaging).

    Besides, you keep ignoring the point that has been made over, and over, and over, ad nauseam: you can save food stamps (in many places). Perhaps they had saved $5 per month so they could celebrate a special event with a fancy meal once a year.

  197. says

    The only reason that I don’t simply say “You’re offering money for my labour, and I need to pay my rent. What, are you stupid or something?” in job interviews is that I hate the lying, bullshitting process so fucking much I’ll spend years in a job I hate rather than have to smile through gritted teeth and tell somebody it’s always been my dream to answer their phones and enter their data.

    Oh God in Heaven, that has been my life for 2-3 years. Right now, the thought of filling out yet another repetitive application form or gearing up for another round of interviews send me into an anxiety attack to the point that job hunting is hell.

  198. nightshadequeen says

    In fact, most Americans live within 20 miles of a Wal-Mart, and most Wal-Marts have grocery and produce.

    You’re showing your privilege here. When you’re carless, 20 miles might as well be half the universe away.

  199. says

    From what a number of people have said, I gather that buying healthier foods is considerably harder in much of the USA than in most of the UK [...] I’m still inclined to think the greater socio-economic insecurity of American life is also an important factor.

    these are not unrelated. actually, I recently wrote down a thought on this topic over on my blog. Excerpt:

    I recently re-read some writings about the “conspicuous consumption” model of status-signaling, which was developed before mass-production really took off. Anyway, it occurred to me that due to that mass-production, almost everybody can conspicuously consume now; and plenty of people do still follow that model of behavior (pin-striped jet anyone?), but in addition to “conspicuous consumption”, “conspicuous leisure”, and “conspicuous waste”, I think now in the age of mass production and universal consumerism (and near-universal lack of leisure-time, at least in the USA), I think we can add another status-symbol: the “conspicuous willpower”.
    [...]
    if your have to use up all your willpower to work two shitty-ass jobs, dealing with the constant status-threat of being at the bottom of a very unequal society, having to constantly deal with a constant barrage of low-level emergencies not solving themselves because of lack of emergency funds, etc., you likely don’t have any of that very limited resource left to NOT stop by your favorite fastfood/desert-joint, to NOT hop into your car to go to work/shopping/whatever, or to NOT indulge in any number of unhealthy or environmentally damaging but easily accessible and cheap forms of relaxation and entertainment. OTOH, when you don’t have to spend all your willpower just on surviving, you can conspicuously show off the reminder in displays of righteousness, of individualist rejection of social ills.

    so because it’s a pain to buy and prepare healthy food while it’s easy to get junk food (and often for the same price; dollar-menu, anyone?), people who’ve already used up all their energy on just surviving aren’t going to eat healthy, too. OTOH, in Europe it’s simply easier to live healthy; and the damage to one’s willpower and energy-levels isn’t as great. So, it becomes easier to put that bit of extra effort in to live healthily

  200. says

    most Americans live within 20 miles of a Wal-Mart

    Uh huh. I live 72 miles from a Wal-Mart, you douchecake. I don’t shop there anyway, I don’t support their practices. You just don’t want anyone on assistance in a market, do you?

  201. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    You’re showing your privilege here. When you’re carless, 20 miles might as well be half the universe away.

    QFT.

    That is why there are food deserts in places like Chiwaukee. You need a car to drive miles to purchase real food. If all you have is public transportation, you are SOL, especially out here in the ‘burbs.

  202. Brownian says

    ever tried taking a bus to a Wal-Mart for grocery shopping?

    This is the problem with talking to people like Michael Hawkins. He’s incapable of learning without the corresponding experience, hence his assertion that the poor are frivolous with their budgetting, whereas he is not.

    This is why this exercise in free speech and democracy and bullshit is doomed to fail. Some people, lacking the insight of empathy, simply need to be forced to the bottom before they can even imagine what those on the bottom actually do.

  203. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Michael:

    Oh, gee, I still need more money because I didn’t bother to get what I needed the first time around?

    So what? You still have a set allowance, the government isn’t going to give you more money because you bought a luxury/designer item.

    How does this help anyone? Is the welfare recipient better off?

    We need to tell people how to spend their money ‘cos they’re inherently irresponsible, right?

    For some people, especially in a high-stress situation (poverty is high stress? No way!), it might as well be impossible.

    If this was a different site, I might wonder if next you were going to tell me that evolution is impossible.

    … What?

    Here we go, the relapse rate for smokers who quit is around 90%. (According to the University of South Florida. PDF warning!) So, yeah, quitting smoking is totes easy. *eyeroll*

    So, where’s your evidence, jackass?

    But maybe you would be okay with giving someone welfare while they live in a mansion. Why not? Housing is housing.

    Funny thing is in the current economy someone who lives in a mansion may very well need welfare. You’re all about judging people by what they have (and have possibly bought in the past). Why is that? It’s a bizarre hangup.

    As I have said time and time again, welfare is based on income and family size. Why do you have an issue with this? If you think the calculations are wrong, fine, but it still has fuck all to do with what kind of housing someone has or what they already own.

    I have not once said that people should be given McMansions or anything close to that. I have said (once more, ‘cos you’re a fucking moron) that they should be able to spend their bennies as they see fit. Welfare benefits will not pay for luxury housing.

    There is also a distinct difference between buying lobster for $10 a pound one month and subsidizing a multi-million dollar mansion.

  204. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    nightshadequeen:

    When you’re carless, 20 miles might as well be half the universe away.

    Bingo. How much you wanna bet our dear friend Michael has never tried to take a week’s (or, shit, a month’s) worth of groceries on a bus? It’s not possible– the driver might not even let you on if you’ve got too much stuff.

    Besides that, around here it can take over two hours to go ten miles on the bus. Who can spare the time to take an entire day to go grocery shopping?

    All this is assuming that there’s even public transport to be had.

  205. says

    fuck. this is a conversation/douchecake-slapping that I’d love to contribute to, but today is errand day. Thus, I shall be back later tonight and simply Marianovic this thread after all the good points will have already been made and the idiot run off

    :-(

  206. says

    @218 Benjamin,

    I figured you were responding to something you thought I might believe since iPhones hadn’t been discussed here in particular. At any rate, it isn’t unreasonable to define “those in need” as people who are unable to afford expensive items.

    @219 Nerd,

    Since I am a voter, and since I contribute to the tax base, I certainly have a say. While most drugs should be legal, I have no interest in paying for others to abuse them.

    @223 Abbot,

    I am not vilifying the poor. As I have already said, most poor people don’t abuse the system. But a good number do. There are ways we can prevent that. If, for example, we limited certain expensive items from being purchases with food stamps, that would inherently free up money that can be given to others. Just look at the balances some people get. I worked with a woman who had a $700 balance on her card at one point. She simply couldn’t fit any more stuff in her house. Why not take that into account for her next disbursement?

    @224 Dr.,

    Christ. I said you kicked into a libertarian view only after money had been allocated. That is entirely true. Of course, I’m more than willing to admit that your basis is emotional (just as PZ’s is) rather than philosophical. (I also said people like you have accused me of being libertarian. Try and keep up.)

    I have addressed food deserts at least twice. Stop lying by saying I have not. But again (even though you will lie about this), yes, they exist. No, most Americans do not suffer from them. No, I do not fault people who do; I allow for this caveat on my argument about the morality of trying to be healthy. Move on.

    Welfare money is my tax money. I have a say in how it is used, just as I would for any other tax issue.

    I need to tell you how people abusing the system by buying lobsters are only in want? I still haven’t seen where anyone has explained how lobsters are a need.

    Ben has not shown anything about the price of lobsters in Maine. He cherry-picked whole sale data from 6 years ago, as well as dockside specials for specific groups in Boston. Lobster is going to cost around $10/lb here.

    I have been waiting for literally hours for someone to ask about where we draw the line – it seems like such an inevitable question. I don’t know where we draw it. That doesn’t mean it’s an all or nothing issue. There are reasonable items we can agree don’t deserve subsidy (unless you want to pay for cigarettes for others), but that requires a discussion. I’ve never said there are any hard and fast rules here.

    Your scheme hurts the poor by wasting limited funds. Take away high-priced items and people need less money each month – and they can still be as healthy as anyone else. (Incidentally, given that I see health in moral terms, it makes no sense for anyone in this thread to say that I want to see poor people just scrape by. My preference is that they are given the best chances to be healthy.)

    Where did I say that? It seems as though you can’t actually respond to my really really real arguments, so you’re creating new ones out of whole cloth.

    Is English your second language? If so, your tendency to misunderstand basic things is excused. Otherwise, you need to go reread what I said: You, like PZ, wish to place no limits on what welfare funds can be used to purchase. Clearly there must be some limit.

    Those poors, buying nice things that they don’t deserve! They’re all gaming the system!

    Where have I said the poor don’t deserve nice things? When did I say they all game the system?

    @225 Sili,

    I have said food stamp funding should be increased. You ought to read the thread.

    @228 Josh,

    Don’t worry, Josh, PZ is with you. He stopped talking about the actions of Maloney after he found out I disagree with him on some issues. In fact, a plea of mine seeking assistance when I was threatened with a lawsuit went greatly ignored. Fortunately, a few great lawyers came to my rescue (http://www.popehat.com/2011/12/19/pro-bono-victory-in-a-junk-science-slapp-suit-against-a-science-blogger/)

    It’s good to know, though, that personal issues can trump fighting junk science.

    @230 janine,

    If that person was allowed to work with reduced or waived benefits, he would get more hours. That is a benefit to him, is it not? Don’t you want to see him get paid more? Because as it stands, he is getting part-time hours and needs more.

    @231 ricardodivali,

    Nope, it’s not all their fault. I have been explicit here. For other people, though, it often is their fault. The butter woman in the main post is at fault, just as PZ, New Gingrich, and most middle class Americans are at fault.

    I think the military budget should be slashed, and the bailouts of the banks were done horrifically poorly. Good try on the same assumption everyone else has made.

    @233 Dr.,

    You’re right, we should buy only the finest clothes. That’s probably the most effective way to use limited funds to help the poor.

  207. says

    Public transport? What public transport? Bismarck finally got public buses about 8 years ago, but there are none in Dickinson and here I am, in Almont. No car, you aren’t going anywhere, and that includes the nearest market, which is 22 miles away from home.

  208. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Since I am a voter, and since I contribute to the tax base, I certainly have a say. While most drugs should be legal, I have no interest in paying for others to abuse them.

    Who gave you permission to make the decision for others??? I smell equivocation like some skunk farted on the thread. Either show your signed letter from your imaginary deity, or be shown tacitly to be a sanctimonious fuckwitted twit with delusions of being a deity. Your vote is irrelevant, negated by mine, as I can think with empathy and you can’t. So, shut the fuck up.

    But a good number do. There are ways we can prevent that.

    Show it is a real problem, and that certain controls aren’t in place already to prevent abuses, by citing the academic literature to prove your inane point. OR SHUT THE FUCK UP. Just another mouth without real evidenced, just factoids (their like hemorrhoids).

    You’re right, we should buy only the finest clothes. That’s probably the most effective way to use limited funds to help the poor.

    Oh, you not only wouldn’t give them funds, you would tell them how they can spend it. What a load of empathy and rationality you have…NOT.

  209. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Your scheme hurts the poor by wasting limited funds. Take away high-priced items and people need less money each month – and they can still be as healthy as anyone else.

    Well, that’s all I need to know. No, we can’t trust welfare recipients to make their own decisions, because they will waste their funds.

    Gotcha.

    You’re right, we should buy only the finest clothes. That’s probably the most effective way to use limited funds to help the poor.

    ALLOWANCE! JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, welfare recipients are given an allowance of money to spend! I’m not advocating buying everyone the most expensive suit that money can buy, I’m saying let them spend their own goddamned money.

    For fuck’s sake, stop mischaracterizing my statements.

  210. says

    At any rate, it isn’t unreasonable to define “those in need” as people who are unable to afford expensive items.

    When you can separate “unable to afford” from “possesses”, then you might begin to understand. Here’s a hint: Right now, I can’t afford a decent SLR camera. I own one, though. Why? Because I bought it a year ago, when I was still earning a decent salary. Now I’m a grad student and my stipend won’t stretch that far.

    Same idea. I can’t afford to buy it, but I can afford to own it once it’s paid for.

    He cherry-picked whole sale data from 6 years ago, as well as dockside specials for specific groups in Boston. Lobster is going to cost around $10/lb here.

    [citation seriously fucking needed]

    I showed that lobster prices were as low as $2.25 in 2009 (which is two and a half years ago, not six, dumbass) and were $3.25 two weeks ago. And there’s nothing indicating that the report I cited was limited to any particular group.

  211. Irene Delse says

    @ Michael:

    When a homeless person asks you for money, which would you rather do given the option: Give them twenty dollars or buy them a meal and a new shirt? I would do the latter because I want to make that person be better off, not just feel better off.

    Aww! How mighty generous of you to decide, in your all-encompassing wisdom, what homeless people do or do not need! Truly, sir, you should be appointed Federal Inspector of Neediness a.s.a.p.!!

    /snark

    It is not, repeat not, your job to decide what your fellow human being needs, even if — no, especially if — said fellow is close to or below the level of survival. Take away someone’s agency, you take away their last shred of dignity.

    You don’t know even what he or she truly want right now, anyway. It may be food, or it may be money for a night’s shelter, or something for a friend or a relative who’s even poorer. Oh, and if you worry about that person buying drugs and alcohol, think again. Unless you are the doctor in the rehab program an addict is going to, you don’t stop her suddenly from drinking or smoking or injecting, because it’s a) horribly painful, b) dangerous. An alcoholic can get delirium tremens and die, for instance.

    Anyway, what do you care if some homeless person desn’t spend charity money “wisely” according to your standards? Make society better with your vote, your advocacy, your tax dollars or by voluntary work, fine. But don’t go the road of Victorian charity ladies, assigning “good” and “bad” labels to people who have already drawn the short straw in life and don’t need more misery piled upon them, thank you.

  212. says

    I am unlikely to respond further in this thread simply because it is such a time drain (though, who knows). However, I will continue reading it. Also, here is a summary for those who have decided to assume that I am a Republican who hates poor people and supports banks and the 1%.

    1) Not trying to be healthy is a moral issue. What it means to “try” will change from person to person. Some people, such as those in food deserts or dangerous areas, will not have the same luxuries as others. However, most Americans do live near grocery stores which supply healthy food. Furthermore, while it is certainly easier to buy unhealthy food, it is possible to buy healthy food for a low price.

    2) What makes this a moral issue is that we’re talking about human bodies. If it is morally correct to treat the human body with respect, I see no reason why that should not extend to one’s own body.

    3) There has been a lot of focus on the poor. I have allowed more than enough caveats for why they are not morally culpable for being unhealthy in many instances. This does not account for the huge swath of fat Americans who make decent livings. That means people like PZ and, if the statistics hold true, most people in this thread.

    4) I support food stamps and believe funding should be increased. I do not support allowing everything under the Sun to be bought by them, and I have two reasons for this. First, I don’t want to subsidize expensive foods. (Even if Ben’s misleading numbers did hold true – and they do not – my point still stands without an example.) Second, allowing wasted funds does not improve anyone’s economic standing (except maybe the grocery store’s). The point of welfare is to get people back on their feet when possible. That improves the lives of individuals, and betters the economy for everyone else.

    5) As I have said, my post titled “Obesity” is available for anyone who wants to argue against actual arguments that have been made. (It can be found via a search of my site or by clicking one of the links in my current post about PZ.)

    6) And finally, no, I am not a Republican. I voted for Obama in the last election and it is almost certain I will do so again this year. I have frequently written about the awfulness of libertarianism, and I think Ron Paul is a nut bag. I recently sent a message to someone on Facebook after a debate with a Republican friend in which I said, “Fuck Republicans. Fuck every single one of them. That is all.”

  213. says

    (Even if Ben’s misleading numbers did hold true – and they do not – my point still stands without an example.)

    1. [citation fucking needed]

    2. We can’t figure out what the fuck your point is, other than “poor people shouldn’t be allowed to have nice things”.

  214. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    On food deserts*, the people who have specifically mentioned them in their posts are:
    Matt Penfold,
    me,
    a_ray,
    walton,
    and
    Nerd.

    All you’ve said about food deserts is that they makes healthy eating more difficult. Couple that with your incredibly absurd comment about Wal-Mart and I can only assume that you have no fucking idea how impoverished people actually live.

    Really, you can take your privileged ass the hell out of here at any time now. You won’t be missed.

    *Are you sure you’re not confusing “deserts” with “desserts”? It happens, I know, but you might want to make sure you know what we’re actually talking about before you get all huffy.

  215. Tethys says

    Welfare money is my tax money. I have a say in how it is used, just as I would for any other tax issue

    Oh FFS! I think you should go to the nearest military base and spout this nonsense.

  216. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Ben:

    We can’t figure out what the fuck your point is, other than “poor people shouldn’t be allowed to have nice things”.

    As far as I can tell, his widdle feewings got hurt when he saw all of those welfare queens abusing the system to buy lobsters that they don’t deserve.

    But, you know, he did have a caveat: Nobody should buy subsidized lobsters! Not even rich people!

  217. says

    However, most Americans do live near grocery stores which supply healthy food.

    But they charge a king’s ransom for most of it.

    Furthermore, while it is certainly easier to buy unhealthy food, it is possible to buy healthy food for a low price.

    [citation needed]

    Even if you have a car (which you very well may not, if you’re poor), then it’ll cost extra in gas and maintenance to drive to farmer’s markets, where the prices are merely exorbitant, instead of entirely unaffordable.

  218. says

    AZD: Yeah, pretty much. Janine alluded to Anatole France’s line: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” Hawkins seems to miss the irony.

  219. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    tethys:

    I think you should go to the nearest military base and spout this nonsense.

    Idea! Instead of welfare, we should send people to serve in the military! Then we’ll be pretty much guaranteed that they won’t be buying lobster!

  220. says

    Maybe Hawkins should go buy some oranges at his local market, then we’ll talk about how things are cheaper where they’re produced. (Heck, orange juice was almost double at a store near my mom’s place, and that’s in Georgia.)

  221. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Side note – I’m not going to do it here because I refuse to give any more fuel to blaming poor people. However, I’d like to have a conversation at some point about the too-univerally-accepted idea that healthful eating costs an arm and a leg more. There are, in fact, many ways to buy simple foods and combine them for less money than supermarket junk food. It’s simply not true that it’s cheaper to eat frozen meals, and it surprises me how many people here buy into that.

  222. Sili says

    he’s more likely to get a job if he’s nattily dressed.

    And once again I discover I have misunderstood an English word completely.

  223. says

    Don’t worry, Josh, PZ is with you. He stopped talking about the actions of Maloney after he found out I disagree with him on some issues. In fact, a plea of mine seeking assistance when I was threatened with a lawsuit went greatly ignored. Fortunately, a few great lawyers came to my rescue

    Even if that were true about PZ, which I highly doubt, that’s one sense of entitlement coming from this guy. PZ’s assistance in posting about Maloney several times (and receiving legal threats himself for his trouble) despite the fact that this sort of quackery isn’t his primary topic, was just so unsatisfactory.

    You’re a real peach, Hawkins.

  224. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Evidently MH doesn’t understand the concept of food desert, which comes about because of difficulty in getting access to a near-by supermarket. Not all people on assistance have cars, and I think the disconnect with MH starts there. He can’t picture not having a car, and money for gas, maintenance, and insurance. He may live in an area with descent public transportation. I have a store a few blocks away, easy walking distance, but compared to the big chains, it is expensive. Otherwise, it is cheaper, easier, and more time efficient for me to get to downtown Chicago than than the nearest reasonably sized supermarket with the haphazard public transportation in suburbs, and with taxi costs. Privilege. MH just doesn’t grasp that concept, because he has it in spades, and doesn’t want to acknowledge the facts of his existence.

  225. Irene Delse says

    Michael, if you leave this topic, we won’t be sorry, I can promise!

    /snark

    It’s not even a matter of being Republican, Democrat or whatever. It’s about thinking it through instead of sticking to preconceived, and demonstrably false, notions.

    As people on this thread explained ad nauseam, this “trying to be healthy is a moral issue” is all fine and dandy, except that in the real world, under-privileged people have significantly more hurdles to overcome than privileged people to achieve such a deceptively simple aim. The end result is that your analysis falls apart. Deal with it.

  226. Just_A_Lurker says

    OMFG. I just caught up with all of this.

    Thank you so much for everyone smacking MH upside the head with reality. If only he could understand it!

    Take away someone’s agency, you take away their last shred of dignity.

    This. A thousand times this. I’ve been cussed out while trying to buy groceries on food stamps. On more than one occasion. My big treats? Popsicles for the little one’s sore throat and a fucking birthday cake for her. Cuz its not like I could have bought her a present. I’ve usually been fucking working and still on assistance. Living off of ground beef, ramen, hot dogs and mac&cheese sucks. Fuck every person criticizing for not feeding my child better. I would if I fucking could.

    You think this shit is easy? Come fucking live it. Where shelters are just a bed in a room (if you are lucky enough to get a room to yourself) with a bathroom; no kitchen. They only serve you slop at certain times and you can’t make it back in time on the bus after working 10 hrs and picking up children from daycare. Or the places that assist with rent come and inspect you. Because if your house is a mess from never being there or not having energy to deep clean you don’t deserve help! I’ve had CPS called on me for that bullshit. Like I have time to clean 2 hrs a day. My days off have always been for cleaning/laundry/errands because there is not enough time in a day to do it all. Not to mention having to take 3 buses for 2 hrs to go 5 miles to the grocery store. Hell even walking back and forth with all of your groceries is a pain.

    GRRR! I seriously unequivocally hate people like MH who hold those opinions. I’m sorry unless they change and stop fighting against me I couldn’t give a fuck less about them. I honestly have enough on my plate and don’t need this bullshit. Thank goodness you all are here to debunk that shit.

  227. Sili says

    @225 Sili,

    I have said food stamp funding should be increased. You ought to read the thread.

    Then why worry so much about how it’s spent? You know, more stamps=more lobster.

  228. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Lurker, I get it. I lived that way growing up – it’s hard shit and you have to be tough to keep on taking it. I wish things were better for you. Hug if you want one.

  229. says

    Don’t worry, Josh, PZ is with you. He stopped talking about the actions of Maloney after he found out I disagree with him on some issues. In fact, a plea of mine seeking assistance when I was threatened with a lawsuit went greatly ignored. Fortunately, a few great lawyers came to my rescue

    Why I mean, who NEEDS legal representation.

    Speaking in entirely non-rational and emotional terms now I hope the fuckers take you for every cent you have. Then we can all sit back and scrutinize your shopping list you little shit head.

  230. says

    @Lurker

    You just don’t get it! You buying popsicles means that there’s less for someone, somehow….because fairness elves will crap in their corn flakes or something.

  231. says

    I have been waiting for literally hours for someone to ask about where we draw the line – it seems like such an inevitable question

    Then why didn’t you ask?

    Even if you did, I think Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart puts the answer best:

    ALLOWANCE! JESUS FUCKING CHRIST

    There’s your line. We’re all been harping on it this whole fucking thread. Try to listen already.

    …oh wait, you’re leaving? Don’t let the porcupine hit you on the ass on the way out.

  232. says

    Give them twenty dollars or buy them a meal and a new shirt?

    I’d give them the cash, asstart, and happily so! You just want to be a sniffy douche, don’t ya, Mikey? You’re obviously not a great believer in dignity.

    You are a fine example of someone who needs their Decent Human Being card taken away, stat.

  233. Just_A_Lurker says

    *dries tears*

    Thank you guys so much =)

    Ing, you always make me laugh!

    I says those things a lot but I mean them every time.

  234. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    Michael should read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.

    Because low-wage workers have very few options, little education, and transportation problems, they may be unable to find a better paying job even knowing that they exist. The problems that the people at the bottom 20% of the economy has are so many and so complex that changing their places in life is extremely difficult. Coming from the top 20%, Ehrenreich she found her needs met, mainly by low-wage workers.

    The main way that wages are kept low is by reinforcing the low self-esteem portion she found inherent in each job. This included random drug tests, being yelled at by bosses, being accused of rule infractions, and being treated in many ways she felt was more like a child than a woman in her 50s should be treated.

  235. says

    What makes this a moral issue is that we’re talking about human bodies.

    Yes, it is a moral issue. We as a society have allowed a situation to be created in which people’s options are determined almost in their entirety by corporations that are interested in profits and not human well-being. A society in which these corporations market food that produces addiction. In which fresh local food is largely unavailable and out of the reach of many. In which food production poisons the environment and leads to animal suffering on an immense scale. In which people have to work so much just to get by that they can’t enjoy cooking (even if preparing and storing food at home is a possibility) or eating together in any meaningful way. In which candy is pushed at children in clothing stores.

    That is immoral, and we’re at fault.

  236. carlie says

    Dear nongod, how many times do we have to have this argument?

    Hey Michael Heath, I’ll argue something other than food deserts, since you seem so obtuse about them. Know what I am? I’m exactly that white, middle-class, knowledgeable about food and cooking and nutrition fat person you seem to think everyone is.

    Know why I’m fat? I can tell you exactly why and when it happened: grad school, when I had two babies and a dead project that made me switch to something else entirely mid-stream, when I spent a few years in clinical depression and probably also clinical anxiety, feeling like I was on the edge of an abyss, taking 15 minutes sitting in the car in the parking lot every goddammed day just to cry and talk myself into going into work. My mantra for years was “it doesn’t matter, you have to do it, you don’t have a choice.” I probably said that to myself two or three dozen times a day just to make it through. About work, about getting up four times a night with the babies, about laundry and dishes and you name it.

    Yeah, I got fat. Because in all of that, I didn’t start drinking heavily, I didn’t start smoking heavily, I didn’t start doing any other drugs, but I managed to barely cling to productivity and usefulness by carving out the only thing for myself I could afford in terms of time and money – getting a quick sugar rush from some cheap food. I put on a very large amount of weight in a very short time, and although everything worked out and I’m incredibly content now, that weight just doesn’t want to go anywhere. There’s about 20 pounds of it that’s fungible; I’ve lost it a few times now! But it always comes back because of all the self-preservation mechanisms that my body kicks in. Even so, the majority of it never went away no matter how hard I tried; I’m reset at a higher amount and I don’t know that I could get rid of it without it being literally cut out of me.

    So fuck you and your “moral” imperative to be thin. I eat fairly healthily, I get regular checkups and bloodwork and adjust my diet if needed (which I usually don’t; my blood sugar and cholesterol are stellar because I lucked out with my genes). The fat I still have is the result of getting through a horribly difficult time in my life without destroying my family or my career or my health in a worse way. If anything, I took the best option of ways that I had available to me to stay relatively whole for the sake of myself and my family, so don’t you fucking dare call me immoral for it.

  237. says

    This should not be difficult to understand. Humans are animals. If the environment is structured to make diverse healthy choices most easy to reach, the humans in that area will eat diverse healthy food. If it is not, then they won’t.

    If the humans in a particular area — such as the United States in general, or any smaller area — are not eating healthy food, it is because the environment is badly structured.

    Therefore, we should try to structure the environment differently. It is a waste of time to scold particular individuals for acting rationally in their environment, when it is possible for all of us together to change the environment so that healthier options become more rational.

  238. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    ALLOWANCE! JESUS FUCKING CHRIST

    QFT.

    Once in the clients hands, you MH, have no say, morally or ethically, as they are adults who must take responsibility for their actions. While you apparently are a bigger nanny than the govmnt. Typical RWA asshat if you think otherwise.

    Thank you guys so much =)

    Our pleasure. Meanwhile, have a glass of swill and a bowl of popcornz on the house. The Pullet Patrol™ seems to be doing something parady (presumption on my part, as they stole [borrowed] my grog barrel cart), otherwise they would be out to salute you. Oh, and stick around for the fireworks, Pharyngula style.

  239. walton says

    Give them twenty dollars or buy them a meal and a new shirt?

    I’d give them the twenty dollars. I feel morally obliged to share the money I have – since I have an unearned privileged lifestyle, in comparison with the great majority of the world’s population – but I’m not a paternalist; I don’t believe that being compassionate requires me to try to control other people. It’s their body and their life, and I have no interest in controlling what they spend money on.

  240. says

    All the lobster talk is ironic given that lobster was once considered a poor person’s food. It was a junk creature that got in the way of fishing for “real” seafood, and people would be embarrassed if they were seen eating it.

  241. Just_A_Lurker says

    YAY!!! GO PZ! Love the fact you called him douchecanoe on the dungeon entry XD

  242. says

    timgueguen:

    lobster was once considered a poor person’s food. It was a junk creature that got in the way of fishing for “real” seafood, and people would be embarrassed if they were seen eating it.

    That’s the first thing Mister said when I told him about Mikey and his hang-up about lobsters.

    PZ:

    BAM! Michael Hawkins gets the banhammer right between the eyes!

    He’s most deserving of it, too. After all, posting here is a luxury, not a necessity. *Chomps on a tea-dunked chocolate chip cookie in Mikey’s direction*

  243. says

    Walton, at an interpersonal level, I agree with your conclusion to give the $20. I give money to some homeless men I’m well enough acquainted with to know that they will spend much of it on drugs, because I know that if I were homeless, I’d like to get high.

    But the dogma that helped get you there is still flawed:

    but I’m not a paternalist; I don’t believe that being compassionate requires me to try to control other people.

    Taking this seriously, we should not try to ensure that any particular area has healthy food options easily available; we should instead provide a negative income tax, and have no care for whether this still results in suboptimal quality of life in some areas.

    (To the analogy: it is necessary to be paternalistic enough to ensure that it’s very easy to spend that $20 on a filling healthy meal and a quality shirt.)

  244. kristinc, ~delicate snowflake~ says

    I’ve been away from the thread since last night and now I haven’t caught up, so I’m going to commit the ultimate faux pas and drop my thought here before reading the rest of the discussion. Sorry.

    The discussion about food deserts and income inequality leading to dietary limitations is a good one and should be had, for sure.

    But in the context of PZ’s post, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter why fat people are fat, whether we would be thinner with better food stamp programs, or whether we make good choices about our diets given our limitations.

    PZ, what your post did (whether you intended it or not) was reduce fat people’s bodies to a terrible warning. It was the blog equivalent of showing a Headless Fatty (TM) on the evening news when talking about fried foods or bigger seats at Disneyland. It took the actual existing bodies of actual existing people and talked about us like a grotesque horror sideshow — and that harms people, including people here at your blog, in our efforts to live as healthily as we can. I have a great deal of respect for you and I really hope you seriously think about this because it’s not a whole lot different from using homophobic or misogynistic imagery.

  245. says

    On the subject of expensive foods…

    I was watching part of an episode of “The Chew” (the TV was on as noise), and they were making fettuccine alfredo. The meal itself they estimated costing $1.07 per serving (4 servings per batch).

    But, their recommendation for serving just about bowled me over.

    I found the episode on YouTube to verify. I quote: “To enhance presentation, serve this dish inside a hollowed cheese wheel”.

    A hollowed cheese wheel.

    A wheel of cheese.

    A sixteen hundred dollar wheel of cheese.

    I just about shit myself. (Good thing I didn’t; I was at my grandfather’s house.)

  246. says

    My objection to Paula Deen is NOT that she’s overweight, but that she is so artificial, and her image is processed to a weird alien plasticity. And that her idea of comfort food is a nauseatingly gigantic bowl of glowing yellow cheesiness.

  247. says

    There are, in fact, many ways to buy simple foods and combine them for less money than supermarket junk food. It’s simply not true that it’s cheaper to eat frozen meals, and it surprises me how many people here buy into that.

    You can if for instance you can buy in bulk. But you have to have the up front money, the ability to get it home and the space to store it… and like to eat a lot of it. You need the tools and time and skill to prepare it and also the space to store leftovers. But apart from that it’s a great idea!

    For every person that has an aha moment from your suggestion, there will be another 3 that will have a bottleneck to it. Most likely because society and the predicament they are in won’t let them.

  248. carlie says

    Anyone ever read the USDA’s food guide with helpful meal plans for people on government food assistance? It’s enough to make you retch.

    There is one, I repeat ONE, vegetarian entree listed.

    It’s for baked potatoes stuffed with cottage cheese.

    Almost all of their sample meals include splitting 3 cups of orange juice and 2 cups of milk among four people. One day, the entire snack listed is 3 cups of orange juice split for four people. Gosh, that 3/4 of a cup of juice really fills you up to last until dinner! Which is 3/4 of a cup of white rice, one slice of white bread, 1/2 cup of milk, and 1/2 cup of turkey/zucchini/carrot/onion mix with soy sauce! (no I did not make that up it’s really there just like that)

  249. says

    Kristinc:

    PZ, what your post did (whether you intended it or not) was reduce fat people’s bodies to a terrible warning.

    I don’t see that, sorry. Maybe I’m not sensitive enough, but I took it more as a warning pasted over much of the foodie culture, which keeps people like Deen employed and hawking incredibly unhealthy foods.

    Foodie culture has led to some good things, but it’s also led to a lot of bad things, where foods and eating are fetishized to a level of absurdity.

    I imagine having a heart attack tends to make you very sensitive to such things and invokes a terror all its own, this culture which is food!food!food! all the time and includes such treats as deep-fried butter.

    There’s nothing wrong in moving away from that sort of thing and doing what you can to maintain a healthy heart while still appreciating food.

  250. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Yes, Ricardo, I get all that. I also know that it can be done because my mother did it while we were growing up on welfare and food stamps. Yes, buying in bulk helps, but no, it is not required. One can buy dried beans, frozen veggies, potatoes and economy cuts of meat without buying in bulk. And yes, obviously a kitchen is required.

    I’m sorry, but it’s just not true that buying frozen pizza, Velveeta, and all that stuff is cheaper for feeding a family. And it isn’t rocket science to cook more healthfully.

    This really bothers me. People who pass this idea along care in an abstract way about poor people and food, but harping on food deserts (yes, yes, I know they exist. I acknowledge that) too much expends energy that I think could more productively be used addressing skills.

    Assuming (yes, I think these things are reasonable and not extraordinary):

    1. A kitchen

    2. Pots and pans

    3. 45 minutes a day, or a Sunday afternoon (yes, I know, time is limited, but for goodness’ sake it’s not totally absent)

    It is possible to cook and prepare healthful meals from simple, inexpensive ingredients. No, it won’t be glamorous, and yes, it means you’ll be eating a lot of the same stew or casserole for a couple of days. But it’s do-able, and there would actually be money or food stamps left over for treats or necessities on occasion. Frankly, I don’t know how people make it cooking any other way. My mother did this and we could barely make the food stamps stretch the whole month.

    I’m very tired of hearing so much in the media about lack of access (not lack of money) to affordable, healthful food. A big part of the problem is lack of knowledge about basic home economics and lack of cooking skills. I’d donate money to programs that addressed this if I knew of any.

    Yes, food deserts, lack of transport, all of those things occur. But they are most certainly not the biggest problem for families and nutrition. For goodness’ sake, we almost never had frozen dinners and McDonalds because that food was much more expensive pound for pound than bean stew or green bean casserole.

    It’s astonishing how many folks—even regulars here—don’t seem to know that. What’s up with the almost entirely non-existent public conversation about food preparation and management skills?

  251. says

    You might also try looking up Paula Deen on youtube. She looks human there — and I really like her southern accent. But her food is nightmarish.

  252. carlie says

    A big part of the problem is lack of knowledge about basic home economics and lack of cooking skills.

    That’s a HUGE part of it. Also, the fact that a lot of kids are on their own for meals because their parents are working two jobs, and most of them don’t know much to do other than throw something in the microwave. My kids took home ec in school (still required here), and all they learned to make was eggs and cookies and cinnamon rolls and pancakes.

  253. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    And also – Ricardo, having space to store food isn’t some rare commodity. Even most poor people have a refrigerator and cupboards. It’s this kind of reasoning that baffles me—we’re not talking about insurmountable obstacles here. Why does ordinary home ec seem so unattainable to you?

  254. kristinc, ~delicate snowflake~ says

    My objection to Paula Deen is NOT that she’s overweight, but that she is so artificial, and her image is processed to a weird alien plasticity. And that her idea of comfort food is a nauseatingly gigantic bowl of glowing yellow cheesiness.

    But, you didn’t say that. You didn’t say “this is the death of internal pickling from preservatives, the death of Yellow #40, the death of never tasting anything but grease and petrochemical flavorings”. And you didn’t say you would eat more fresh produce this year, or that you were thinking of pasting Paula’s phiz on your fridge to scare you into eating your veggies.

    You referred directly to losing weight out of fear that you would end up a quivering blob, dead, a boneless mass of fat. That is language referring to fat bodies, not dietary habits. And linking it to “excess” is often used to shame fat people.

    Fat people are told all the time that we’re killing ourselves, and that failing to adequately shame us (into invisibility if not thinness) will be a death sentence for our species. Not recognizing the fat shaming and the othering of fat bodies in the language you used is a function of privilege.

  255. Tethys says

    I just read the so called helpful meal plans. It’s more like the white, bland, nutrient free meal plan.

    Starch cheese starch cheese milk OJ jello does not make for healthy eating.

    It seems like a menu for nursing home residents who have no teeth, and lack taste buds.

  256. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Carlie – yeah, it’s something your parents have to know how to do and teach you. Trouble is the parents themselves don’t know it. This is obvious every time I go to the grocery store and peek in carts. Now mind, I would never ever make a judgmental comment, this is all stuff inside my head. But I see poor folks and very thinly stretched working class people making bafflingly uneconomical choices at the grocery. NOT just treats – a whole cart filled with orange soda pop, frozen pancakes (for fuck’s sake. . how hard is it to make them?), Lunchables, Oscar Mayer hot dogs, frozen chicken tenders, processed cheese food, you get the picture.

    And I see it alot. This is demonstrably, uncontroversially more expensive per pound than buying scratch ingredients. There are a few convenience foods that are actually a great value for the money (if not nutrition) such as boxed mac and cheese. But the majority of convenience food is not. Those hot dogs are like four bucks a pound. I can get cut up chicken for half that price and make stews and soups. Or two ham hocks that will make two really large pots of pea soup that will feed four times as many people as the same amount of money spent on canned soup.

  257. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    PZ:

    BAM! Nanny Hawkins gets the banhammer right between the eyes!

    Fuck yeah!

    Just A Lurker:

    YAY!!! GO PZ! Love the fact you called him douchecanoe on the dungeon entry XD

    ♥!

    Ben:

    I found the episode on YouTube to verify. I quote: “To enhance presentation, serve this dish inside a hollowed cheese wheel”.

    A hollowed cheese wheel.

    A wheel of cheese.

    A sixteen hundred dollar wheel of cheese.

    … The fuck? Okay, even ignoring the insane price of the cheese wheel, who the fuck thinks it’s a good idea to serve ANYTHING in a wheel of cheese?

    *mind explosion!*

  258. says

    Josh:

    It’s astonishing how many folks—even regulars here—don’t seem to know that.

    Oh, I know it and I expect most of the people here do too. I didn’t grow up poor, but I learned all about cooking and pinching a penny until it screamed because I had great-grandparents and grandparents who did grow up dirt poor.

    What’s up with the almost entirely non-existent public conversation about food preparation and management skills?

    There’s a lot to be said for cooking skills and management skills, however, those don’t do any good if you don’t have a foundation on which to utilize them.

    Back when I had 9 bucks a week for food, I had to scratch one of the easiest and cheapest things for me to do, a simple baked potato. Why? No oven. I had a stovetop (glorified hotplate) and a mini-fridge. I managed fine, but I well understand just how difficult it all gets. I not only was very limited in how I could cook things, I had very limited space to store food and my gasoline budget did *not* include trips to the grocery store. I walked to the grocery store, once a week, after working overtime. It was only 2 miles, but do you feel like walking 2 miles after work? Then shopping and schlepping it all back home? By the time that was done, I did not feel like cooking up a stew, I was hungry, wanted to eat and fall into bed.

    At that time, I often brought home boxes of papers so I could do overtime at home, so even when I got there, I still had hours and hours of work to do. It’s exhausting, every damn second of it. I rarely felt happy when it was time to cook, just another fucking chore.

  259. says

    There are, in fact, many ways to buy simple foods and combine them for less money than supermarket junk food. It’s simply not true that it’s cheaper to eat frozen meals, and it surprises me how many people here buy into that.

    this is phrased in an oddly specific way. Phrased like that, it’s of course correct, but irrelevant to the general question whether it’s cheaper to eat junk than healthy food (and I include purchasing and preparation time in this calculation, since from my hourly-worker perspective, one hour of my time = $7). As long as ketchup remains cheaper than actual tomatoes, and the 1$-menu continues to exist, living off junk is cheaper than living on healthy food. And that doesn’t touch on storage and cooking-utensil issues (I’ve lived for a while in a place with only a kitchenette (fridge and sink only); others I know lived in places with only mini-fridges, or no fridges at all. You try buying and preparing perishables in such an environment).

    back to doing errands.

  260. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Caine, I certainly understand the situation you describe. My baseline assumption is an ordinarily equipped kitchen, which I mentioned. Most folks, thankfully, have these things. They do have that foundation, but they don’t know what to do with it. I wish more policymakers would spend their damned time and money on improving home ec skills instead of trying to wangle organic produce into school lunches. Not that that is a bad thing, but it’s by far not the most effective way to increase family nutrition on a limited budget.

  261. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Josh:
    Part of the problem is that prepared food is everywhere and if you’re already stressed/tired/overworked, it’s easy to fall into the convenience trap– hell, I barely have the time or the patience to make “real” food on work nights and I only work one job and have zero children.

    I’m not arguing against making food available, cooking/planning classes, and whatnot, but I think the reality is a lot harsher than you’re acknowledging. It’s worth it to a lot of people to pay more to save them the time.

  262. says

    AZD:

    Actually, given that the cheese in question is parmigiano-reggiano, a hollowed-out cheese wheel does make for an excellent serving bowl.

    Just not one that’s worth the price, unless you’re Mario Batali.

    Forgot to include the episode video:

    Part 1
    Part 2 (the quote appears at 1:27).

    Turns out they do mention the price; I didn’t hear that part when I was looking for the quote (or when I saw it the first time).

    ####

    Note: Paula Deen’s accent grates on my nerves. She has a very strong south-Georgia accent (the “Gone With The Wind accent”), which sounds almost nothing like the north-Georgia accent I grew up with.

  263. says

    Audley:

    Part of the problem is that prepared food is everywhere and if you’re already stressed/tired/overworked, it’s easy to fall into the convenience trap

    Yep. One thing I should have tacked onto mine @ 312:

    At the end of the day, it was just easier to cram something in my mouth and call it good.

  264. walton says

    This should not be difficult to understand. Humans are animals. If the environment is structured to make diverse healthy choices most easy to reach, the humans in that area will eat diverse healthy food. If it is not, then they won’t.

    If the humans in a particular area — such as the United States in general, or any smaller area — are not eating healthy food, it is because the environment is badly structured.

    Therefore, we should try to structure the environment differently. It is a waste of time to scold particular individuals for acting rationally in their environment, when it is possible for all of us together to change the environment so that healthier options become more rational.

    While I entirely agree with that analysis, and it’s obvious that the role of structural social and economic factors (food deserts, etc.) is extremely important, I’d add that there are also sometimes mental and emotional factors at play which can affect a person’s eating habits. And that it’s important to understand this kind of issue as a health problem, not a “moral failing”; just as substance dependencies are health problems, not moral failings.

    This is why I find the idea of free will (in the usual everyday vernacular sense, leaving aside Dennett and so forth) to be toxic. From a belief in free will comes the idea that people can just “choose” to eat less, that people with substance dependencies can just “choose” to quit, that people with depression can just “snap out of it”, and so on. These false beliefs are extremely harmful to society – indeed, they underlie most of the worst right-wing policies on welfare, the war on drugs, etc. – and that is why I believe that it’s important to talk about that issue.

  265. says

    It’s astonishing how many folks—even regulars here—don’t seem to know that.

    maybe that’s because it doesn’t reflect my experience. I’m an excellent cook who enjoys cooking. And in my experience, the less money I have the less healthful the meals I’m able to prepare: the proportion of rice to veggies changes in favor of rice; the amount of fruit vs. unhealthy sweets decreases; the amount of condiments vs. actual food with flavor increases.

    And when I have two jobs/classes and a job, cooking-time reduces to near zero, because quite frankly, I’m out of time and energy. I still have periods where I live only on ramen, or only on cereal, for that reason. Cooking requires mental energy, and good on those who have an abundance thereof, but that ain’t me.

    NOW I’m back to running errands.

  266. walton says

    Josh, yeah, I suspect that preparation time and lack of cooking facilities are a big factor.

    I’m not poor (I have a generous scholarship, and support from my parents), but I would like to spend less money on food, if I could. However, I find myself wasting money on eating out too much rather than cooking, and on convenience foods, because I live in a dorm where the kitchen is shared between twenty people and it’s virtually impossible to do any cooking (it’s often such a mess that I hate going in there at all). Combined with having lots of work to do, this causes me to spend more money than I otherwise would; I have decent cooking skills and used to cook for myself much more when I lived in better accommodation in Oxford, and would save money if I could do that.

    I suspect this is a huge problem for people who are actually genuinely poor (which I am not, thankfully) and live in bedsits or other cheap accommodation. Cf what Caine said above about not having an oven.

  267. Koshka says

    I think we need to stop people blogging about issues unless they are able to pay for their own legal defence in case they get sued.

    I mean there is only so much pro bono in the pot, and if you want the luxury of having your own opinion you should be able to pay for it yourself.

  268. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Jadehawk, I specifically stipulated a kitchen set up and accounted for time. I get it that that isn’t everyone’s reality. There was no attempt on my part to be deceptive or beg any questions. But I’m not wrong that in the majority of cases it’s not cheaper to eat processed food. I’m not discounting your situation or saying you’re wrong – sheesh.

  269. says

    one more (I suck at flouncing, even for my own good)

    I wish more policymakers would spend their damned time and money on improving home ec skills

    thsi at least partially falls under sexism, IMHO.

    also, not to be an ass… but I’m guessing the people talking about managing poverty by cooking healthy are talking about poverty that happened 20+ years ago, am I correct?

    Things have changed, life sucks more for the average poor white folks now than it used to, and the same rules no longer quite apply. I remember a conversation from a while back where it was noted that the most useful thing to give to food-pantries were pop-tarts; it’s true, because cooking equipment and a full set of ingredients just aren’t a given (shall I tell the story of drink-a-cake and “mac-n-cheese but with powdered milk and butter” again?).

    I’d agree that for a complete look at solving the food-problems in the USA, teaching people how to cook will be necessary. But the skill alone doesn’t do shit when you have no money, no access, no time, no energy.

  270. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    You try buying and preparing perishables in such an environment).

    Seriously. The fuck? What’s with the hostility? Did you not read my post where I stipulated an equipped kitchen? Jesus! I didn’t deserve that.

  271. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    ?I’m not arguing against making food available, cooking/planning classes, and whatnot, but I think the reality is a lot harsher than you’re acknowledging. It’s worth it to a lot of people to pay more to save them the time.

    No. Why do you assume I don’t know these things? Do I have to list every possible caveat—don’t feel like cooking, don’t have a stove, too tired at night—to innoculate myself? I grew up in that household, Audley. I did a lot of that cooking for the family because my mother worked and there was no father. I started cooking at age 8. I know how tired and frazzled she was. I get all these things.

    For goodness’ sake—what I proposed isn’t a panacea, and it’s certainly not a commandment about what people “should” do. But it’s fucking sensible and I have no idea why it’s getting so much pushback.

  272. janine says

    Banned Micheal at @256

    @230 janine,

    If that person was allowed to work with reduced or waived benefits, he would get more hours. That is a benefit to him, is it not? Don’t you want to see him get paid more? Because as it stands, he is getting part-time hours and needs more.

    I know it is not quite fair to respond to a person who cannot answer back on this blog but I really do not give a flying fuck.

    Funny how Micheal thinks that I would agree that it would be a great idea for an employee to give up benefits for the short term ability to be able to work more hour. Especially when more is given up by chucking the benefits in order to be able to work more hours.

    Fuck you, Micheal, for even thinking that I would think that this is a fair trade.

    Asshole.

  273. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    why is everyone recently assuming I’m being somehow hostile/judgmental of them

    Maybe it’s you? Obviously you didn’t mean it, but the way you wrote that struck me as snotty and hostile. “You try doing X and such.” In my world that’s a fuck-you tone.

  274. says

    Mikey the Banned:

    I am not vilifying the poor. As I have already said, most poor people don’t abuse the system. But a good number do.

    That’s my point. My wife had numbers. A little less than 1% of her clients were abusing the system — that is, felt they were owed something, and were willing to lie to get it. The rest just wanted to feed their kids, or to find a way to get out of the endless cycle of seasonal work and into something with stability, but they had no fucking chance.

    These lobster-scarfing food-stamp abusin’ folks just don’t exist in any kind of “good number.” One or two apocryphal tales don’t constitute data.

    Caine:

    Back when I had 9 bucks a week for food, I had to scratch one of the easiest and cheapest things for me to do, a simple baked potato.

    Ouch! My wife and I lived on baked potatoes and ramen for a couple of years right out of college. I can’t imagine not have the baked potato option.

    I remember once we found a dollar in the wash. We debated for an hour whether to combine it with 50 cents we had saved up to buy a bag of peas to add to our ramen, or to splurge for the first time in a month and get two cups of coffee and a donut. We talked about it as we walked down to the grocery store (which was close-by, thank Grue). We decided to make a date of it, and ended up in the bakery section, sitting at a table, watching the ocean strike the beach as we ate half a donut each, with a full cup of bad grocery-store coffee.

    This was almost 20 years ago, and it’s still one of our most memorable “dates.”

  275. says

    Jadehawk:

    But the skill alone doesn’t do shit when you have no money, no access, no time, no energy.

    This ^ a million times over. Back in the day, the lack of energy was the biggest killer. Honestly, If I could have figured out how not to be hungry, I would have been happier. Every single thing about food was a time sucking, energy sapping, money spending fucking chore. It was something that had to be done, gotta fuel the machine, but all of it was a pain in the ass, there was no joy, no fun, no happy involved.

  276. Pteryxx says

    Honestly, If I could have figured out how not to be hungry, I would have been happier. Every single thing about food was a time sucking, energy sapping, money spending fucking chore.

    ^this. There’s been quite a few days when I didn’t eat anything at all because it just wasn’t worth it. (Then I learned that instant oatmeal works okay with cold water from the bathroom tap. Livesaver, that.)

  277. Irene Delse says

    @ Josh:

    Time, energy, space and utensils available, all this has been mentioned as ways to make it harder to eat healthy food. And you also need to have learned cooking and home economy when you were young. Some people never had the opportunity and/or are not good at it. Myself, I never learn much at home in the way of food choice and preparation, because of family circumstances (one parent barely functional, the other at work all day). School didn’t help much, we learned to do a few desserts, then went on to woodworking, which I’d much rather like.

  278. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    BAM! Nanny Hawkins gets the banhammer right between the eyes!

    *Bows to PZ’s power*

  279. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Time, energy, space and utensils available, all this has been mentioned as ways to make it harder to eat healthy food.

    With all due respect (I love you guys). . Jesus. Fucking. Christ. I acknowledged the part about needing a kitchen in my very. first. post. I get that time and energy are a premium. I get it. What the fuck? Is there something radioactive about what I said? How many times do I have to acknowledge the caveats before you’ll stop throwing them up? Am I writing for nothing? Cuz it sure seems like it.

  280. says

    Irene:

    And you also need to have learned cooking and home economy when you were young.

    In fairness, that’s what Josh has an issue with, and rightly so – that there’s little point in expecting people to cook if they have no skills. The U.S. govt does little enough in helping people on assistance (See Carlie’s link above to food guidelines), but if they seriously wanted to help, offering up home ec classes wouldn’t exactly hurt.

  281. Pteryxx says

    *headtilt* Maybe just ignore the @Josh at the front of whatever it was? (I just got here.)

  282. says

    Maybe it’s you?

    obviously it’s me; what I’m wondering specifically is whether my writing-style changed without me noticing, or the social dynamic here changed, so that my writing + context now provokes different reactions than before.

  283. Irene Delse says

    With all due respect (I love you guys). . Jesus. Fucking. Christ. I acknowledged the part about needing a kitchen in my very. first. post. I get that time and energy are a premium. I get it. What the fuck? Is there something radioactive about what I said? How many times do I have to acknowledge the caveats before you’ll stop throwing them up? Am I writing for nothing? Cuz it sure seems like it.

    Uh? I don’t see anything in my post that was attacking you. I was offering a personal perspective (that one reason for not learning to cook could be a dysfunctional family and no input from school), not trying to argue that your point of view was wrong.

    And to go back to your original comment about people not eating healthily despite being able to afford it in terms of money: well, one problem may be that all your prerequisites – a kitchen, time, energy, knowledge – are perhaps not so common, after all. At least, among the people commenting in this thread.

  284. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Jadehawk – I dunno. Could be a little of both. For what it’s worth, your writing style does have a tendency to make some people (like me) think you’re hostile when you don’t mean to be. Things like “You try doing thus and such” are usually used to mean “Since you’re too stupid to have thought of this problem, let me tell you sarcastically about it.”

    I’d be a huge hypocrite if I complained about aggressive writing (!) but I do try to use it only when I mean to (not always successfully).

    That said, the group dynamics here can get thick and rough no matter what one does. A feature and a bug.

  285. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Maybe they’re not so common, Irene. But even when I say “OK, allowing for this, and allowing for this, and allowing for this,” somebody still wants to act as if I proposed something from another world. It’s dispiriting. While it won’t work for everyone, what I said is sensible and reasonable. It wasn’t douchey, or completely blinded by privilege. I’m sorry for those who don’t even have access to a basic kitchen – that needs remedied. But it’s not the overwhelming majority of people.

    I’m sorry I ever brought this up.

  286. walton says

    I should also add, from my experience, that depression and not eating properly can get into a self-reinforcing cycle. Hunger and low blood sugar make one more depressed, and, in turn, being more depressed reduces one’s energy and motivation to buy and prepare proper meals (as opposed to eating readily-available junk food). Again, I’m not poor and have never been poor, but I’ve had problems in the past with depression-related weight loss (thankfully something I’ve learned to cope with a little better recently).

  287. says

    For goodness’ sake—what I proposed isn’t a panacea, and it’s certainly not a commandment about what people “should” do. But it’s fucking sensible and I have no idea why it’s getting so much pushback.

    Sorry, i was actually warning you about the pushback you were about to get, not lecturing you. It may have lost that edge after editing it. I’ve been around this block a few times and people can take it personally.

    And also – Ricardo, having space to store food isn’t some rare commodity. Why does ordinary home ec seem so unattainable to you?

    The problem is that having only one of the issues I mentioned arise makes a possible solution non-viable or more difficult. And i’m sorry but you can’t assume a kitchen full of utensils. Do you think someone who doesn’t know how to cook is even going to know which utensils to buy? Never mind spending time and wasted food learning to use them.

    I was actually as confused as you were about how bad things had got. I happily waded into a similar thread a while back on a different forum and it was quite the eye opener. There were so many things i took for granted and would consider basic that other people simply didn’t have.

  288. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Yes Josh, if people have 1) the time 2) the kitchen 3) the utensils and 4) the access to staple foods, it’s not unreasonable to think that they would be better off by avoiding prepared foods. That’s a hell of a lot of “ifs”, though.

    As for why people can afford to eat better, but don’t: Who do you think does all of the cooking in a household? I’ll give you a hint: it ain’t Dad. For all of the gains we’ve made, women are still the primary care-givers for the kids, we’re still the people who clean the house (with very little help from anyone else), we still do all of the cooking, but, oh yeah, we’re doing all of these things while holding down a full-time job. There aren’t enough hours in a day.

  289. Irene Delse says

    Caine, I see what you mean about home ec classes. At least, if one has time, energy, the inclination, etc. But yes, that’s at least one instance where the foodie culture could be of help! Where I live, the government gives an allowance to people on welfare or disability, but don’t make much effort about education. Fortunately, there are associations who take up part of the slack.

  290. says

    Josh:

    But it’s not the overwhelming majority of people.

    No, it’s not. I think both you and Carlie highlighted the basic problem, which is that most people don’t have much time to cook anymore, kids are home alone and nuke something to eat, and sit down dinners are pretty much a thing of the past in a lot of households, so even when people do have cooking/management skills, they aren’t getting passed on.

    Cooking/management skills also don’t seem to be valued anymore, and that is a problem.

  291. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Ricardo – yeah, I’ve seen this happen before too. What pisses me off, though, is that I have no reason to believe that having a kitchen with basic pots and pans is a rarity among the working poor. I find it very difficult to believe that a family (any family I run into at the supermarket) with a cart full of boxed mac and cheese doesn’t at least have a stove with a saucepan.

    Pointing out exceptions is a good thing. Raising awareness that we have work to do just getting people to a bare subsistence standard with equipment is good stuff. But acting like I’m a fool for not assuming most people don’t have a fucking stove is ridiculous. Grind your personal axe on someone else (this is the general you, not a specific person).

    It’s almost as if folks can’t believe there’s nothing sinister or victim-blaming about a piece of advice that says, “Actually, you can do this, and here’s how to learn.” I’m not some dumb Libertarian looking for an excuse to shit on the poor. I thought I was actually saying something helpful.

  292. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Yes Josh, if people have 1) the time 2) the kitchen 3) the utensils and 4) the access to staple foods, it’s not unreasonable to think that they would be better off by avoiding prepared foods. That’s a hell of a lot of “ifs”, though.

    Fuck. Whatever. I’m totes out of line and have no idea what poor households look like. I’m proposing something absolutely unattainable for most people.

  293. RahXephon231 says

    @ChasCPeterson

    lol. What are you, a first-law-of-thermodynamics denialist?

    No. Did I ever say that I was?

    My point was that the “calories in – calories out model” of weight loss doesn’t work because it ignores metabolic feedback systems. When caloric intake decreases, the body decreases how much energy is used and increases energy saved from further eating. How else would one explain the well-known issue of “plateauing” in dieting? It’s because one’s body adjusts to it. That’s why most diets involve some type of cycling to “trick” one’s body to overcome the plateau.

    That’s it. That was my entire point: you can’t simply decrease caloric intake by X amount and expect a commensurate loss of Y amount of fat, because the body adapts. And yet armchair dieticians continue to be shocked by this fact. That’s when the fat shaming and the food policing and the blaming-the-poor type shit usually starts up.

    Now, can those feedback systems be overwhelmed by prolonged periods of excess food, or a lack of food? Yes, but that’s not normal eating as practiced by the vast majority of people, including fat people. We’re talking famines, natural disasters, concentration camps, chronic poverty, and eating disorders in cases like those (which is ironic since in the linked story she details, as I mentioned previously, how the few people who do maintain weight loss long-term exhibited behaviors similar to eating disorders and metabolic markers that mimicked starvation, and this is considered acceptable and not a mockery of human dignity by the medical community because “Fat Is Teh Gross”).

  294. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    Damn, after reading this thread, I’m made more aware of what a sheltered life I’ve lived.

  295. Pteryxx says

    I’m sorry for those who don’t even have access to a basic kitchen – that needs remedied. But it’s not the overwhelming majority of people.

    Without ranking causes (and not trying to argue with Josh <_< ) an awful lot of people, perhaps a majority, will at some point lack access to a kitchen. Often it’s transitory – they’re on vacation, or stuck at work, or the stove or fridge breaks, or their house floods… most folks with money will eat out for a few days. Another group (like college students, hi Walton) will have limited or no kitchen access for a few months or years. This was me, recently, when I rented a bedroom in a small house.

    Cooking’s one of those things where a deficiency in any of the major areas can derail the whole project. In my case, I didn’t know what to do with the kitchen when I did have access to it, past the microwave. Eventually I saved up to buy a crockpot, but only after learning from my landlady what to do with it. Then I had to move to a place where I’m the only one using the fridge, so I can fill it with batch-cooked leftovers. I made miscellaneous veggie-chicken bone stock yesterday, in the crock pot, which was only my second attempt (still not sure what went wrong with the first attempt *shudder*) and that’s only possible because I learned to buy and cook raw veggies to generate trimmings to even save for stock in the first place. I feel a lot more confident now, with a lower food budget and cheap tough ingredients that I know how to use, than I did while spending more money and ruining food in the process of learning. Shopping’s a lot easier now that I know how far things will go, how much they’ll cost, and only one or two items at a time are new to me.

    Anyway, the point being there’s a synergy between all the aspects, and it’s paralyzing to try and deal with everything at once. It’s necessary but not sufficient to teach the skills of dealing with raw ingredients; but then the skills are portable, whatever the person’s actual circumstances might be.

  296. says

    Audley:

    4) the access to staple foods

    This is probably the biggest problem. I know several people have mentioned food deserts upthread. I never realized how big a problem it is until my wife (a social worker) pointed out how most low-income families live in areas with no banks, no grocery stores, no gas stations (which is not too big of a problem for many, as they don’t have cars), and so forth. The basic things we (my wife and I) take for granted simply aren’t easily accessible.

    “Convenience” food stores seem to be the dominant source of food for many people. These rarely have good supplies of staples. It was shocking (both surprising and disturbing) to discover that the people who can least afford it are effectively cut off from cheap staples, by design.

    Yet one more way in which American society is truly fucked.

  297. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Cooking’s one of those things where a deficiency in any of the major areas can derail the whole project

    You’re right about that. The more I think about it the more I think we need massive programs designed to teach people how to shop, how to stock a pantry, basic cooking techniques, essential equipment (much of which can be had cheaply at the thrift store), how to make use of limited space, etc. These things need to work in tandem with other things like having grocery stores in walking distance, of course.

    Maybe this will be a project for me in 2012.

  298. Pteryxx says

    so even when people do have cooking/management skills, they aren’t getting passed on.

    Cooking/management skills also don’t seem to be valued anymore, and that is a problem.

    Definitely… I’d also add that most cooking classes, shows, videos and whatnot presume a level of skill and equipment, which seems pretty high to me starting from nothing. My landlady had to show me how to parcel out meat for freezing and how to cut up raw veggies so they’d cook evenly and suchlike. I didn’t know most of the words she used (still don’t, in fact.) I’ve developed a habit of asking the employees at grocery stores what to do with some food item or other… I knew what to do with spinach, but not collard greens, and I just learned from youtube that you don’t eat the tops of leeks. This cultural stuff just gets assumed to be passed down within families, like a language. We really need remedial cooking education.

    (And I’m intelligent and from a wealthy, if fundie, family. I just thought stewing vegetables into oblivion with no spices was normal.)

  299. says

    Nigel:

    “Convenience” food stores seem to be the dominant source of food for many people. These rarely have good supplies of staples. It was shocking (both surprising and disturbing) to discover that the people who can least afford it are effectively cut off from cheap staples, by design.

    Yep. The market closest to us is in New Salem, 22 miles away. There’s next to no fresh produce there at all, in that way, it’s much like a convenience store.

    The Cenex, which is a convience store (a monster one), complete with a liquor section, is actually closer to us, but stocks the same shit as any other convenience store. There’s no healthy eating out of that place.

  300. says

    We really need remedial cooking education.

    Good Eats was that for me, to an extent. If you have access to, ahem, “shared” copies (for instance, through a certain Swedish website), then grab the first season or two and see how comprehensible they are to you.

    But yes, I agree with your point. Everybody should be able to walk into a kitchen and prepare a basic meal; for me, that meal would be along the lines of boxed macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, or bean soup (breadbowls optional).

  301. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Josh:

    The more I think about it the more I think we need massive programs designed to teach people how to shop, how to stock a pantry, basic cooking techniques, essential equipment (much of which can be had cheaply at the thrift store), how to make use of limited space, etc. These things need to work in tandem with other things like having grocery stores in walking distance, of course.

    Cue the Republican conspiracy theories about how the Dems and Obamas are trying to force us all to be vegetarians or some shit. They’re gonna take away our guns and our meat!

    Nigel:

    It was shocking (both surprising and disturbing) to discover that the people who can least afford it are effectively cut off from cheap staples, by design.

    Yep. Supermarkets, farmer’s markets, fruit stalls, whatever don’t want to be in inner-city neighborhoods. Never mind that being the only supermarket in a neighborhood will guaran-fucking-tee you a steady and constant stream of customers.

  302. says

    Josh:

    The more I think about it the more I think we need massive programs designed to teach people how to shop, how to stock a pantry, basic cooking techniques, essential equipment (much of which can be had cheaply at the thrift store), how to make use of limited space, etc. These things need to work in tandem with other things like having grocery stores in walking distance, of course.

    I keep mentioning my wife in this thread, but she’s the social worker in the household, and has a much keener sense of social responsibility than I.

    So: my wife has said for years there should be a mandatory senior-year high school class dedicated to teaching young adults how to balance a checkbook, write a résumé, interview for a job, create a budget, cook, clean, and so on — a general-purpose “household management” class. Her point, which seems logical to me, is that many folks aren’t trained in the basics of taking care of themselves. A class like that might help provide some of them with tools to help them survive in the wild. Hell, it might even help them succeed, for some definition of “success.”

    I think your project is one she could get behind.

  303. Pteryxx says

    Heck, I didn’t dare mess with dried beans until I’d got some crockpot skills down. The first few batches of stew I made were with (much pricier) canned beans, because I didn’t want to risk ruining several pounds of fresh meat and veggies (and blowing my odds of having food for that WEEK) by screwing up the beans.

    Good Eats is great (if you have that much internet or TV, natch) but it’s still pretty technical sometimes. Just cutting up veggies finely vs. stir-fry size vs. stewing size isn’t easy the first few times. (Also, everything including cleanup takes way longer than half an hour!)

  304. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Aside from my mother’s hands-on instruction, the best home economics aid I ever got was the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. They put out another edition every 10 years or so, but all of them share the same excellent qualities:

    1. They explain basic cooking terms and techniques (dicing, julienning, braising, all of it) with pictures and simple language.

    2. They give charts on cuts of meat with notes on how tender it is, how costly it is, and what cooking method is most effective.

    3. The book always includes the most basic, foundational recipes. Making a white sauce, mayonnaise, simple white bread, and the like is de-mystified.

    4. There’s a whole section on freezing and canning to preserve foods in quantity. You learn what foods can be frozen, and in what sizes.

    5. They list essential kitchen equipment and spices, taking care to note what’s absolutely non-negotiable (and what can do double or triple duty, so is most economical) and what’s nice but not essential.

  305. Irene Delse says

    Ricardo, Pteryxx, excellent points about space, utensils and cooking ability.

    In my case, I’m not poor, I have a sufficient, regular income, but I live in a one-room apartment, because it’s affordable and close to where I work. I have a kitchenette with stove-top but no oven. I don’t feel deprived but it limits what I’m able to cook, especially as, because bed and kitchenette are in the same room, I tend to avoid anything that gives too much smell while it’s being prepared, if I don’t want to inhale it all night!

    All that because in the city where I live, property prices are still very high, so space is at a premium. It’s frequent even for middle-class families to either live in cramped apartments, or to go far in the suburbs and spend a lot of time and money on gasoline every day.

  306. carlie says

    The more I think about it the more I think we need massive programs designed to teach people how to shop, how to stock a pantry, basic cooking techniques, essential equipment (much of which can be had cheaply at the thrift store), how to make use of limited space, etc.

    Which could be home ec, which I think the majority of schools still have. But they don’t focus on useful things (I’d rather my kid have learned a basic bean soup stock recipe than cinnamon rolls).

    Coming from the privileged side of it, I never learned any cooking skills. My mom did all the cooking. Then I went to college and the cafeteria did all the cooking. Then I was on my own with no money and ate ramen. Then I had a kitchen and enough money for food, but how the hell do I know what to do with it by then? It does take a significant amount of desire to learn how to cook once you’re out and working and whatnot.

  307. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Nigel:

    Her point, which seems logical to me, is that many folks aren’t trained in the basics of taking care of themselves. A class like that might help provide some of them with tools to help them survive in the wild. Hell, it might even help them succeed, for some definition of “success.”

    I think your project is one she could get behind.

    Your wife is absolutely right, and I’ve noticed the same things. Even basic budgeting is a completely foreign concept to most people under 40. I have friends who are living on the edge economically, but even on their small incomes they’re wasting scads of money because they haven’t been taught how to prioritize and make the most of certain resources. No, that won’t magically make their jobs well-paying, but it would painlessly put a few hundred bucks back into their budgets every month.

    Running a household takes skill. There’s a reason it used to be called “home economics,” – it has a huge effect on the household’s money.

    I may prevail on your wife for ideas as I think about how to get a project off the ground.

  308. Pteryxx says

    Thirding (or whatever) a household-management class. Sure, you CAN learn all that stuff on your own as an adult, but it’ll take far more time, energy, and confidence to do it on the fly than in a sandbox setting where mistakes don’t snowball and wreck your week.

    Also, it’s a chance for people to learn where their particular weak points are. The budgeting part of food shopping stresses me out so much that I spread the budget, list-making, and actual shopping into separate days. …It occurs to me, knowing this stuff would be valuable for roommate negotiations in college or other shared-housing situations. I’d gladly do dishes in trade for someone else doing the shopping, say.

  309. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    On home ec – Carlie, you’re a public school teacher, right? I don’t know how many schools still do home ec, but I seemed to remember reading it’s dying off.

    Yeah, it should focus on really useful skills, not frippery, if it’s going to do any good. There’s no substitute, though, for a parent who will teach you these things on a practical, we-do-this-every-day basis. Easier said than done.

  310. carlie says

    Josh – I see your BH&G and raise you The Joy of Cooking, 1970s edition. That book taught me pretty much everything I know about cooking. (Warning: buy a used 1970s copy. The later editions are rubbish.)

    The other book that I think could be a basic all around cookbook, if you want something newer and more available, is Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything.

    nigel – the home ec classes I had, and that my children have (in another state) are kind of like that, but as I mentioned don’t seem to do the job well, and worse are in middle school so they’ve forgotten it all by the time they graduate.

  311. Pteryxx says

    3. The book always includes the most basic, foundational recipes. Making a white sauce, mayonnaise, simple white bread, and the like is de-mystified.

    ROFL – those are basics? Heh, this morning I was just researching how to make a cream-of-mushroom soup.

    -Mushrooms.
    -Onion (cut fine and cooked in the pan bottom first)
    -Stock (which I now have)
    -Salt, pepper, maybe some herby things
    -Add cream or milk or a bit of flour or whatever at the end

    Honestly, I thought it was more complicated than that. I still don’t own any kind of a blender, so we’ll see how it goes with finely chopping things.

  312. says

    Josh:

    I may prevail on your wife for ideas as I think about how to get a project off the ground.

    If you get to the point where you might like assistance, let me know. I’ll broach the subject with her beforehand. I suspect she’ll be happy to give feedback and ideas.

  313. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Josh – I see your BH&G and raise you The Joy of Cooking, 1970s edition.

    HAHAHAH! I find that book way too detailed and fussy for the beginner. I do love, though, that you can find how to cut up a whole chicken or clean a fresh-caught fish. I turn to it for that kind of stuff.

  314. says

    Heh, this morning I was just researching how to make a cream-of-mushroom soup.

    Open can.
    Pour into small pot.
    Refill can about 2/3 up with milk.
    Pour into pot.
    Heat while stirring until mixture begins to boil.

    That’s about as technical as my cooking gets these days.

  315. Pteryxx says

    Oh, and thanks for recommending the BH&G cookbook, Josh.

    Maybe a quick start would be to buy a dozen copies and give them away through the food banks?

  316. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Pterryx – they’re “basics” in sofaras they’re foundational elements of many dishes. And they’re not hard. Sure, they may be foreign to you, but that doesn’t make them hard to do once you learn. You sound like just the sort of cook who could really benefit from the BH&G cookbook I mentioned above (really – you’d find it incredibly helpful). Or stop over at my place for a free lesson next time you’re in Vermont. :)

  317. says

    I’m with Josh on the BH&G. I have one of theirs, red and white check cover, binder style, covers everything. It’s a great resource, especially when you’re first starting out.

  318. carlie says

    Josh – public, but college-level, but I’m around a lot of teenagers so I keep up on what’s going on in the schools.

    Honestly, I thought it was more complicated than that.

    Pteryxx – it was a revelation to me when I realized that if you cook the hell out of an onion and add some garlic and chicken bullion/broth to it, you can then add any-fucking-thing else to it and it makes a good soup. I was positively giddy. Not only do we not learn to cook recipes well, but the idea of how to improvise in cooking is often foreign to even decent recipe cooks. There was a cookbook out there somewhere about how to do just that, start with a basic and then improvise, but I forget what it was (Alton Brown’s books are kind of good for those, but then again I find his cookbooks not the easiest things to actually cook from although fun to read).

  319. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Josh:

    the best home economics aid I ever got was the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. They put out another edition every 10 years or so, but all of them share the same excellent qualities…

    Holy crap, yes. My Better Homes and Gardens is about 10 years old at this point and I still rely on it.

    World’s best french toast. Trust me on this.

    Carlie:

    Coming from the privileged side of it, I never learned any cooking skills. My mom did all the cooking.

    That’s me. Not only did mom do all of the cooking, but (sorry mom), she’s never been very good at it and relied on a lot of pre-canned/packaged foods (sauces, for instance. Desserts. Pre-packaged stuff packed in our lunches. Stuff like that). I learned pretty quickly that I can’t rely on her with any sort of cooking questions.

    Which brings me to Home Ec: In my high school, it was offered, but not mandatory. At the time, I couldn’t see the point in taking a class like that with a bunch of girls that I hated anyway, so I took a creative writing class instead.

    Home Ec would have served me much better.

  320. carlie says

    I find that book way too detailed and fussy for the beginner.

    True. I found comfort in being told exactly what to do. :)

  321. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Carlie:

    I see your BH&G and raise you The Joy of Cooking, 1970s edition. That book taught me pretty much everything I know about cooking.

    I’ve got the 1997 version, and WHOA, that’s not for a beginner.

  322. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Pteryxx,

    those are basics? Heh, this morning I was just researching how to make a cream-of-mushroom soup.

    Yes, they are BUT the BH&G cook book will help you out with whatever basics you need– soup broth, for one. How to carve poultry. How to measure. It’s worth its weight in gold, trust me.

  323. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I see your BH&G and raise you The Joy of Cooking, 1970s edition.

    Ah, the Redhead has that version of “Joy”. She made good use of that early on, and for 15 years or so after, until her collection of cookbooks became reality.

  324. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    it was a revelation to me when I realized that if you cook the hell out of an onion and add some garlic and chicken bullion/broth to it, you can then add any-fucking-thing else to it and it makes a good soup. I was positively giddy.

    Now that’s the goddamn truth. If your kitchen has an onion, a head of garlic, some bullion cubes, a piece of chicken/beef/pork/tofu, any random veggies, butter or oil, and salt, you’ve got dinner. And even if it’s not fabulous it will always taste at least good.

  325. carlie says

    How to measure.

    Another one of those things that you just don’t “pick up”. In my home ec class we were taught, but I can’t imagine how I would have found out otherwise. For most foods measuring doesn’t matter much, and I’m proud of how I can eyeball amounts decently now, but for something like baking? Yeah, that shit needs measured to get a decent result, and you have to know if it’s tight-pack or loose-fill with a scrape or scant or mounded or liquid volume or solid volume.

  326. carlie says

    If your kitchen has an onion, a head of garlic, some bullion cubes, a piece of chicken/beef/pork/tofu, any random veggies, butter or oil, and salt, you’ve got dinner.

    It took me so long to figure out at least partly because my mom never used onions or garlic. She was raised in that 1960s era of cooking where spices were strictly optional.

  327. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    For some odd reason (I lived in a redneck cow town in the 80s) my home ec class had almost as many boys as girls. That made it easier to blend in, though I never did that very easily no matter what.

    We had a whole section on basic sewing. It was incredibly useful. We learned simple techniques by hand, and using a machine. . .how to hem, how to make a pillow, etc. Combined with what my mom taught me, it’s stood me in good stead to know how to reattach a button, mend a torn seam on a sheet, etc.

    My project for the sewing course was a pillow in the shape of an amoeba. It was fuckin’ cute as shit.

  328. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Carlie:
    I can’t eyeball a good goddamn thing, no matter what I’m cooking. I started out with plastic measuring cups (they were cheap) and destroyed them pretty quickly from all of the washings. (I just got a set of glass liquid measuring cups with the markings on the inside. Brilliant!)

    You know what else isn’t necessarily something you “pick up”? Liquid and dry measuring cups aren’t the same!

  329. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    She was raised in that 1960s era of cooking where spices were strictly optional.

    Hehehehe. I’ve been laughing my ass off going through the cache of 40s and 50s cookbooks I picked up a few months ago at a yard sale. These people are INSANE. Recipes that feed four or more call for one half teaspoon minced onion, small dash of paprika. Good lord-how did Americans come to be terrified of food flavors as a national pastime?

  330. says

    Okay, mine is Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (Five -5- Ring Binder, 10th Edition) by Gerald M. Knox (1989).

    The Special Helps section has a fuckton of beginner stuff.

  331. Pteryxx says

    a piece of chicken/beef/pork/tofu,

    And all those need to be handled somewhat differently, oy! How to portion out raw meat, cut it up, freeze it and such took a lot of experimenting on my part. Would you believe I didn’t know pork chops had bones until I fished them out of the stew afterward? At least veggies just sit there in the fridge and don’t change much in a week.

  332. says

    Josh:

    Good lord-how did Americans come to be terrified of food flavors as a national pastime?

    Money, most likely. One thing about being raised by great-grandparents and grandparents – every household had the full compliment of spices and herbs were grown. They were considered to be absolutely crucial to cooking. I lucked out on that score.

  333. says

    Carlie:

    nigel – the home ec classes I had, and that my children have (in another state) are kind of like that, but as I mentioned don’t seem to do the job well, and worse are in middle school so they’ve forgotten it all by the time they graduate.

    Yep. “Home ec” has become the punchline to a joke — a not-very-funny joke. Worse, my wife was very smart. She wasn’t allowed to take home ec. It wasn’t a “college prep course.” So, what, she’s supposed to wing it once she’s let loose in the wild?

    We suck at money management. Not because we don’t have the skills, but because we didn’t get the skills until we were forced, mostly because our lack of money management skills made us very, very poor. So we’re still working our way out, and we have many bad habits now that we’re no longer giddy over the discovery of a dollar bill in the wash.

  334. RahXephon231 says

    @Carlie

    It took me so long to figure out at least partly because my mom never used onions or garlic. She was raised in that 1960s era of cooking where spices were strictly optional.

    Apparently our moms are very alike, lol. I was probably 21 or 22 before I had ever seen a clove of garlic in person and actually used it. Just last year we got a spice rack. For the longest time, my mom’s idea of “spices” was salt, pepper, and paprika but that was pretty much only for deviled eggs.

    She also tried to pass down the “burn it till its done” method of cooking meat. We ended up eating a lot of shoe-leather steaks and charcoal-briquette burgers as a kid.

    Thing is, both her mother and grandmother were great cooks, and my mom “knows” how to cook better food. For some reason she just likes it that way. She likes overcooked meat and bland food. It took me a long while to understand that and to let it go.

  335. Pteryxx says

    Recipes that feed four or more call for one half teaspoon minced onion, small dash of paprika. Good lord-how did Americans come to be terrified of food flavors as a national pastime?

    …Was this an American or 50’s-60’s thing? I assumed it came from fundie beliefs (in my case anyway) where adding spices to food was sinful indulgence.

    I actually started cooking for myself by imitating stir-fry (lots of onion, garlic, and sriracha… Dear Sriracha.)

  336. Azkyroth says

    But as far as the metabolism go, “calories in, calories out” is indeed the bottom line.

    Citation needed, especially if you want to explain this using such a calculus.

    Google “Law of conservation of energy.”

  337. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Oh! I just checked, my BH&G is newer than I thought– it’s the 2006 Susan G. Komen special edition. In the beginning, there’s 50 pages of cooking basics. It’s the longest section of the book.

    Josh,
    I’ve inherited a bunch of vintage cookbooks from my grandmother and my dad’s step mom and besides the crazy specialized books*, there’s a nice mix of stuff from the late 30s through the 70s. It’s amazing what recipes have survived (various shirred egg recipes, 7 minute frosting) but a lot of the recipes are just plain nasty.

    *Norwegian cookery, anyone? No?

  338. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    …Was this an American or 50′s-60′s thing? I assumed it came from fundie beliefs (in my case anyway) where adding spices to food was sinful indulgence.

    That bland, spice-free aesthetic dominated every aspect of American cooking for decades in the 20th century. Definitely not just a fundie thing. I’ve often wondered if it was a holdover from the abysmal British cooking (boil everything for two hours) brought by settlers.

  339. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Yes, on the “paprika is only for deviled eggs”. LOL. . that’s soooo familiar. It’s also only for the top of potato salad that you bring to a picnic.

  340. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Dr. Audley: “Never mind that being the only supermarket in a neighborhood will guaran-fucking-tee you a steady and constant stream of customers.”

    Ah, except no business wants a steady stream of customers with no money—and when the share of money those customers have is ever decreasing…well, grocery stores will move uptown and upmarket. This is the most insidious aspect of increasing concentration of wealth: eventually, the poor have so little to buy the necessities they can afford that companies stop making them. Try to find dry milk on the shelves lately—it’s getting harder and harder. American business is no longer about the steady stream of loyal customers, but about the quick score. The 99% are only tolerated until they develop a robot that can clean the toilets.

  341. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Audley – I’d love to get a look at those vintage cookbooks!

    I love shirred eggs. Those recipes are culinary treasures.

  342. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    The Special Helps section has a fuckton of beginner stuff.

    Yes. That section alone makes the book worth five times its cover price, and that’s why it’s so valuable for beginners.

  343. says

    We have recently acquired a bunch of recipe cards from the ’60s. “Ways with weiners” is our favorite card so far. Apparently, if you slice each hot dog vertically so you can splay it, you can make a pack of ‘em resemble a rack-of-lamb.

    “Ways with salad” was pretty damned funny, too.

  344. says

    Josh:

    I’ve often wondered if it was a holdover from the abysmal British cooking (boil everything for two hours) brought by settlers.

    Not in my experience. One of my great-grandmother’s was British, her parents emigrated to the U.S., so she was a ‘settler’. She’s one of my cooking teachers who emphasised the use of spices and herbs. Things were very different in the 1700s and 1800s. Spices were precious, but available and almost everyone grew herbs.

  345. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    RahXephon231:

    She also tried to pass down the “burn it till its done” method of cooking meat. We ended up eating a lot of shoe-leather steaks and charcoal-briquette burgers as a kid.

    Thing is, both her mother and grandmother were great cooks, and my mom “knows” how to cook better food. For some reason she just likes it that way. She likes overcooked meat and bland food. It took me a long while to understand that and to let it go.

    This. This is my mother. You’re not one of my sisters, are you?

    My grandmother could cook in the good old southern style (ie, not the crap Paula Deen passes off as “food”), but my mother never bothered to learn anything from her. Her cooking has improved somewhat in the past few years, but that’s ‘cos she’s putting more effort into it now.

    My mom also has an unreasonable fear of food-borne illness. Eggs were cooked until the yolk was solid, steak was brown the entire way through, you get the idea. I still suffer from never knowing if something is done just right*, ‘cos I err on the side of over cooking meat.

    *I don’t have this problem with baking, but I learned even less about baking from my mom than any other basic cooking. I dove into that completely blind.

  346. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Ah, thanks for that, Caine. So the Brits aren’t to blame. Must find new scapegoat.

  347. RahXephon231 says

    @Azkyroth

    Google “Law of conservation of energy.”

    Actually, why don’t you read my post farther up in response to ChasCPeterson in which I explain that I’m not talking about conservation of energy or laws of thermo-fucking-dynamics. My point was that the “calories in-calories out” argument in the context of weight loss is flawed because it ignores metabolic feedback systems. I readily acknowledge that large cuts in caloric intake over a prolonged period of time decrease weight, as is seen in famines and eating disorders, but the body’s response to that is not “Oops! I was storing too many calories! Sorry I made you a fatass!”. No, your body says “HOLY SHIT IM STARVING SAVE EVERYTHING NOW BEFORE I HAVE TO EAT MYSELF!”, and that such metabolic changes can be long-lasting. It’s why people who go on diets almost always rebound and regain even more weight. The “logic” of “calories in-calories out” on weight loss is fucking flawed.

    It would help if people would, ya know, fuckin read the shit I write instead of instructing me to Google basic science concepts I already know and am not even fucking talking about.

  348. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Josh:

    Audley – I’d love to get a look at those vintage cookbooks!

    I love shirred eggs. Those recipes are culinary treasures.

    Any time you’re passing through, you’re more than welcome to come gaze at my cookbooks. :)

    I’ll stick a shirred egg recipe from 1939 up on TET, if you’d like.

  349. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    CaineL:

    Pssssst, you mean brother.

    Well then RahXephon231 is definitely not one of my siblings, since I have no brothers!

  350. Pteryxx says

    Ah, except no business wants a steady stream of customers with no money—and when the share of money those customers have is ever decreasing…well, grocery stores will move uptown and upmarket.

    Sooo… we need to subsidize groceries and produce in stores in poor and underserved areas? Sort of like post offices?

  351. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Any time you’re passing through, you’re more than welcome to come gaze at my cookbooks. :)

    But what about your etchings?

    I almost called you last week when I was driving home through Schenectady, but it was getting on into the evening and I wasn’t sure you’d want a last-minute surprise.

  352. RahXephon231 says

    @Audley

    We can be cultural siblings! We’re united by our experience of bad food as kids.

    Also, speaking of shirred eggs, I remember watching an episode of The French Chef about eggs and she made those. Why the shit isn’t the French Chef not only available on DVD but included along with a dvd player, tv, and guaranteed power supply to every home in America? Julia Child is way more useful than a fucking Bible, not to mention more entertaining.

  353. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Josh:

    I almost called you last week when I was driving home through Schenectady, but it was getting on into the evening and I wasn’t sure you’d want a last-minute surprise.

    Hey, as long as you don’t mind a messy apartment, you’re welcome at any time. ;)

    RahXephon231:

    We can be cultural siblings! We’re united by our experience of bad food as kids.

    Ha! Yes! We can commiserate over over-cooked meats and under seasoned foods!

  354. RahXephon231 says

    @Audley

    I think foodborne illness has a lot to do with it, now that you mention it. My mom equates “pink” in a steak with “raw” and she also associates “raw” with “will KILL YOU”.

    I still have problems with that myself. Poached eggs are my favorite breakfast food, but I usually end up cooking them too long because I don’t want the yolk to be too raw and then I end up in the Stupid Ward of the hospital with salmonella.

  355. Pteryxx says

    My mom equates “pink” in a steak with “raw” and she also associates “raw” with “will KILL YOU”.

    That used to be me, until I scored a free ticket to a fancy occasion with steak tartare, and it was one of the most awesome things I’d ever tasted.

  356. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    RahXephon231:
    Now I’m starting to think that my mom had another family in the next town over. You know, one of those “secret family” deals. ‘Cos that is her reasoning to a fucking tee.

    COOK EVERYTHING THROUGH OR YOU’RE GOING TO DIE! It got even worse after my grandfather had salmonella poisoning– he ate some bad egg salad and ended up in the hospital. But he also had cancer at the time, so it’s not like he was in the best of health to start with.

    Besides, salmonella didn’t kill the miserable old goat– he died 20 years later of heart failure.

  357. carlie says

    Google “Law of conservation of energy.”

    But “calories in” means “calories extracted from the food by your intestinal system” and “calories out” means “how much work your body puts into any event”. You can’t just count what’s in the food and assume your body makes use of them all the same way, especially if you read all the links provided about the variables involved.

    For the longest time, my mom’s idea of “spices” was salt, pepper, and paprika but that was pretty much only for deviled eggs.

    YES. I loved the episode of the Simpsons where Marge picked up a spice rack at a garage sale and said something like “Eight spots? Some of them must be doubles. And what the hell is oh-re-gah-no?” It was like being at home. :)

    Except our house did have garlic salt, thanks to my Italian grandfather who put it on everything. My mom grew up with salt, pepper, and garlic salt on the table at all times. Strangely, there was one exception to the blandness, which I think was the creation of one of my great-grandparents: it was called hot spaghetti. Cook bacon, reserve some of the grease, crumble the bacon into it, add straight unflavored tomato sauce and a buttload of cayenne pepper, and then spaghetti. That was the only thing cayenne or any other pepper was used for at any time, ever.

    (disclaimer: although I am making fun of my mom’s cooking, she could kick anyone’s ass in sewing. She was the mom who, when you said “Oh I forgot I have to have a tree costume for the play tomorrow” would get it done and you would be the best effin’ tree in the play.)

  358. RahXephon231 says

    @Pteryxx

    I’ve never tried steak tartare, but I’m really into Korean food and they have something similar called yukhoe. I might make it sometime, I just don’t know when I’ll be able to get beef that’s safe enough to eat raw.

  359. carlie says

    I almost called you last week when I was driving home through Schenectady,

    If you’re ever just west of there, call me! (jumping up and down excitedly)

    If you haven’t seen the Gallery of regrettable food, go post-haste. Just this summer I scored a copy of the BH&G “Cooking with meat” book featured there, and it is every inch as wonderful as it looks.

  360. Irene Delse says

    But as far as the metabolism go, “calories in, calories out” is indeed the bottom line.

    Citation needed, especially if you want to explain this using such a calculus.

    All right, I’ve just realised I hadn’t seen this query. Sorry I don’t remember who posted it (RahXephon231?) but here’s more on that matter.

    No, no elaborated calculus needed. And it’s not as basic as thermodynamic either. Maybe “bottom line” wasn’t clear in the context, but I thought metabolism was self-explanatory: the calories ingested are either consumed or stored. If the metabolism increases or if you exercise more, you burn more calories. If it decreases or if you exercise less, your energetic requirements diminish, and you burn less calories. In that eventuality, one can gain weight even while not increasing the food intake. That’s the energy balance of the body.

    I hope we are agreeing up to this point?

    I didn’t address that matter in details previously, because it was a quick comment, but as someone also pointed upthread, the body has a set point for weight, to which it tends to go back after a temporary shortage or abundance of food. It’s part of the body’s homeostasis, just like temperature or blood sugar level.

    One tricky part however is that many things can change the body’s set point, including a crash diet: the body tend to adjust to the food shortage during that time by lowering metabolism. (We may thank or curse for that our hunter-gatherer humanoid great-great-great grandparents, and our Neolithic farmer great-grandparents, who evolved with uneven food supply around the year.) But if you try then to go back to the way you were eating before the diet, you will gain more weight, because your set point is now lower.

    Note that I’m making here a very quick summary, from various books on nutrition and physiology (yay! a biology major can be useful in everyday life!) and not trying to explain everything. I’m not talking of other things that can can influence weight gain or weight loss, from genes to gut flora, to psychogenic overeating, etc.

    But as you see, I’m indeed aware that metabolism is not everything, even if it plays an crucial part. My last comment was more a reminder that whatever fad diet is currently “in”, the sources of calories you eat don’t matter if the amount of calories is the same. Ounce for ounce, proteins are as energy-dense as carbohydrates, for instance.

  361. says

    The Special Helps section has a fuckton of beginner stuff.

    I have the 14th edition (2006, I think) and it doesn’t have that section. :-( Could they have renamed it to “Cooking Basics”? (It does have that.)

  362. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Ben:
    Yeah, I’m pretty sure “cooking basics” is the same thing. If you haven’t looked at it yet, I really REALLY suggest you do so ‘cos it’s fucking awesome.

    (I also have the ’06 version. The special edition has some additional recipes and a pink cover, but otherwise it should be the same.)

  363. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Carlie – oh, that’s right, you’re in that neck of the woods too!

    Yes, I know all about the Gallery. It’s one of the few things that can make me throw up laughing (yes, it did. Also Photoshop Disasters).

    My mother also has a Pathological Stupidity about food contamination. Which is irritating as she’s a logically minded, scientifically oriented person. While I was at home over Christmas I was making appetizers and supper for Christmas Eve. When I got out the wooden cutting board to slice summer sausage she grabbed it out of my hand.

    SpokesMom: “I will ONLY HAVE VEGETABLES on this cutting board! I do not want cross-contamination!”

    SpokesGay: “Ma, it’s fully cooked meat. There’s no salmonella or meat-borne pathogens.”

    SpokesMom: “Blahrgggh. . !! No!”

    SpokesGay: “Ma – even if I cut up raw chicken on it, washing it in hot water with soap is sufficient. Wood doesn’t soak up bacteria, there’s actually been a study showing it has anti-bacterial properties. I do this every day at home.”

    SpokesMom: “BLAAAAAAAARGH???!!!@”

    Whatevs.

  364. Pteryxx says

    @RahXephon: I might be privilege-flashing here, but I’d suggest finding a local or family butcher shop; failing that, somewhere with grass-fed beef. I feel pretty safe eating from a cow that wasn’t dosed with therapeutic antibiotics while being grain-fattened in a feedlot somewhere. No mad cow, no MRSA or vicious E. coli strains, and at the family butcher shop, the guy went in back and carved steaks to my order off someone’s cow raised down the road. The meat had never touched a metal surface till that moment. Their prices are within a dollar per pound of regular supermarket meat, too. Start with a single piece of meat, rinse the surface just in case, and it should be as safe as it gets.

    …In fact, I have one of those custom steaks thawed right now. AFK…

  365. RahXephon231 says

    @Pteryxx

    Well, I live in Oklahoma, and the funny thing is that we have cows EVERYWHERE, but beef is still expensive, probably because the beef raised here is mostly exported.

    I think finding a local/family butcher would be difficult. I don’t know if you’ve ever been here, but OKC is basically Corporate Chain City. Finding indie stores of any kind is hard. Someone should start a website with a directory of small/local businesses (or maybe those already exist, I dunno, lol).

  366. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    @RahXephon: I might be privilege-flashing here, but I’d suggest finding a local or family butcher shop; failing that, somewhere with grass-fed beef.

    That. If you’re lucky enough to live near a rural area with family farms (I know that’s not common) you can find some good meat. There are several on the way to my friends’ house in the country that sell their own fresh beef for less than $3 a pound.

    Generally you can’t find those prices unless you actually drive out to the countryside. Once they get to market the mark-up sky-rockets. I’m convinced much of that is “we can get away with charging this because the customer doesn’t know how little we pay the actual farmer.”

  367. carlie says

    My mother also has a Pathological Stupidity about food contamination.

    True story: My parents were visiting, and I was showing off by cooking over-easy eggs, and had gotten them just right; cracked perfectly, nicely round, they were all setting up nicely. Then my dad wandered in and said “oh, poke the yolks so they cook a little firmer, that’s how we like them”. I was all “whaaaa??” and he leaned over and put a fork in and broke the perfect yolks and stirred them up. It was quite traumatizing.

  368. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Ugh, that gets more irritating the more I think about it. Cooking over-easy eggs nicely is not easy. I’d have been furious!

  369. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    I just don’t cook in front of my mother. Which is easy enough to do since they live across town and I can have everything prepared before they come over.

    Mom would have conniptions if she found out that I ate a little bit of raw cookie dough from the peanut butter cookies I made today.

  370. RahXephon231 says

    @Audley

    I just don’t cook in front of my mother.

    Aww, I’m jealous. I live with my parents so I have to cook what they want unless I wanna make separate meals for myself, because we have very different tastes. Like I said upthread, I’m really into Korean food, and other spicy things, and I love seafood, and my parents never wanna eat any of that. I’ve gotten them to eat *one* Korean dish and that was a struggle, even though it’s basically just fried chicken.

  371. says

    @Josh, I think one of the problems in discussing poverty food is that it is a systemic problem which demands a systemic solution. Suggestions can easily seem like privileged victim-blaming – let them eat cake lentils! And yet individuals have to deal with it, and can’t just stop eating and wait until we fix the world, so there is a valid use for suggestions at that level. It’s tricky to negotiate those shoals.

    @Pteryxx – you CAN eat the tops of leeks. Gourmet chefs don’t use them, but if you are short of food you don’t need to care. They are tougher and stronger in flavour, so you have to shred them finely and cook them longer, or else use them in the stockpot. Like peapods – you don’t eat them because you don’t have to, not because you can’t.

    @Azkyroth, on a technicality, keeping (calories in – calories out) < 0 is indeed a guarantee for weight loss. This is boring physics. On a practicality, it’s seriously not helpful because you can’t measure this.

    Calories in – well, do you count what goes down the hatch or what’s actually absorbed? That’s quite different. Calories out – there’s an even bigger problem. How many calories do you burn with a given amount of exercise, or at rest? Everybody’s metabolism is different, and an individual person’s metabolism is different depending on what time of day it is, and what they’ve been doing and eating in the last day, week, month and year. Or even what their parents were doing. (Want fat kids? Diet or starve during pregnancy, they will develop a famine metabolism that stores everything hyperefficiently.)

    So no, the measures are not reliable enough to be of more than very coarse-grained use. And if even if you could measure so accurately, it is still very difficult to sustain, because your body will fight back by making you hungry. And even if you manage for a while, maintaining a long-term calorie deficit is also a recipe for rapid regain when you stop. Unless you are very very careful (to eating disorder extremes) or very very lucky.

  372. Happiestsadist says

    I’m lucky my grandparents on both sides grew up on farms during the Depression. I learned to do things with basic, fresh (I was lucky enough to grow up semi-rural) ingredients on very little money. I was also lucky enough to have learned how to forage for wild foods from my hippie parents. Because when I was a young thing living on my own? I got by (barely) with a lot of supplementation involving going into the woods and fields. Which is a hell of a luxury.

    I actually ended up getting close to the Mr. when we were both broke students. We used to dress up quasi-nice in thrifty clothes and crash catered art receptions like proper bohemians. When we both realized we were each living off $10 ish for two weeks, we pooled our resources and ate a lot of stew. Not amazing stew, but better than either of us could do.

    That said, the Mr. is also pathologically obsessed with cross-contamination. He feraks if raw egg touches anything buts its bowl. Sometimes I lick the beaters when I make meringue in front of him to watch his icky dance because I am terribly mean.

  373. says

    Josh:

    Generally you can’t find those prices unless you actually drive out to the countryside.

    It’s interesting how things differ from place to place. You know we live deep rural, but our butcher? He’s in Bismarck. :D

  374. Pteryxx says

    @RahXephon and Josh: To me (a dedicated steak-o-phile) that’s THE great benefit of living in rural east Texas fundie-land. I could walk to the farm where my steak grew. And I believe I was referred to this butcher shop via the local farmer’s market.

    (salt-pepper-olive oil-cook-rest-potato-onion-mushroom-same-pan)

    *snif* and it’s a thing of beauty.

  375. Pteryxx says

    @Pteryxx – you CAN eat the tops of leeks. Gourmet chefs don’t use them, but if you are short of food you don’t need to care. They are tougher and stronger in flavour, so you have to shred them finely and cook them longer, or else use them in the stockpot. Like peapods – you don’t eat them because you don’t have to, not because you can’t.

    …THE INTERNET LIED TO ME!! *conniptions*

  376. says

    My mom equates “pink” in a steak with “raw” and she also associates “raw” with “will KILL YOU”.

    My family, in spades. My eggs are too “runny” while over medium and my medium-rare steak needs to go back in the kitchen to cook all the way.

    I’ve never mentioned sushi in their presence.

  377. Happiestsadist says

    I’ve never been able to stand runny eggs, but that’s a texture thing. When I ate meatythings, I liked my steak rare, and my sushi plentiful. But I’d get urpy at an overly squishy quiche or omelette.

  378. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Pteryxx:

    To me (a dedicated steak-o-phile) that’s THE great benefit of living in rural east Texas fundie-land. I could walk to the farm where my steak grew.

    That’s the awesome thing about upstate NY, too– grass fed, free range beef that was butchered in the same county as it was raised.

    *Homer drool!*

  379. cicely, Disturber of the Peas says

    “Convenience” food stores seem to be the dominant source of food for many people. These rarely have good supplies of staples.

    And the prices are sharply higher, too, for the same (processed) food items that someone on a low budget would buy at a grocery store, if one was available. Sort of a double whammy.

    She also tried to pass down the “burn it till its done” method of cooking meat. We ended up eating a lot of shoe-leather steaks and charcoal-briquette burgers as a kid.
    Thing is, both her mother and grandmother were great cooks, and my mom “knows” how to cook better food. For some reason she just likes it that way. She likes overcooked meat and bland food. It took me a long while to understand that and to let it go.

    RahXephon, you and I must be long-lost siblings. First cousins, at the very least!

    And Dr. Audley, too! It’s family reunion time! :)

    (disclaimer: although I am making fun of my mom’s cooking, she could kick anyone’s ass in sewing. She was the mom who, when you said “Oh I forgot I have to have a tree costume for the play tomorrow” would get it done and you would be the best effin’ tree in the play.)

    Now it’s just getting freakin’ eerie, carlie; my mom once whipped up a formal for my sister for a concert that she (mom) didn’t hear about until the afternoon before, with professional virtuousity. (And with a fuckton of screaming and abuse, for everyone, at no extra charge.)

    I’ve never been able to stand runny eggs, but that’s a texture thing. When I ate meatythings, I liked my steak rare, and my sushi plentiful. But I’d get urpy at an overly squishy quiche or omelette.

    And now it turns out that Happiestsadist is me?!?
    -

  380. Azkyroth says

    Actually, why don’t you read my post farther up in response to ChasCPeterson

    I did. An hour and a half later.

  381. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    I went from living at home to living at a residential college (which was catered) to living in a share house, along with a friend who was pretty much the same – so we kind of taught ourselves how to cook along the way. But we were pretty well-off financially (in a relative sense at least) and most kinds of food was inexpensive and accessible where we lived at the time (semi-urban Australia).

    But we took a while to learn about appropriate portion sizes – we were eating essentially healthy food, so we couldn’t work out why, despite the fact we rode our bikes from our share-house to the Uni and went to the gym and didn’t eat junk food very often or drink very much, we put on about 20lb each in only a few months.

    Not exactly in line with the thread topic, but an example of how there are people of all socioeconomic levels would benefit from better food education.

  382. Happiestsadist says

    cicely: I’m only a little bit you. My parents avoided the spicy food until I was about four or so. Then it was deemed that I could enjoy jalapenos and the more potent Szechuan-style stuff with the adults.

  383. cicely, Disturber of the Peas says

    Happiestsadist: That’s a relief! I could see an Identity Crisis looming on the horizon. :D
    -

  384. Happiestsadist says

    Well, we are supposed to be all one Gnu atheist feminist hivemind here. We have to pretend there’s some variance between us.

  385. Sili says

    you CAN eat the tops of leeks. Gourmet chefs don’t use them, but if you are short of food you don’t need to care. They are tougher and stronger in flavour, so you have to shred them finely and cook them longer, or else use them in the stockpot. Like peapods – you don’t eat them because you don’t have to, not because you can’t.

    My mother always used the greens for stock. They’re good for wrapping the parsley/parsnip and celeriac tops in to make tidy parcels.

    I should get to work on that …

  386. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Bits and bobs of vegetables should always be saved for stock. Whenever I cut the tough ends off carrots, onions, broccoli, whatever, they go into a container in the freezer. When it fills up I boil them to make broth. Sometimes by themselves and sometimes with reserved chicken or meat bones. The broth gets boiled down to a concentrate and frozen in ice cube trays. I pop the cubes into freezer bags.

    It’s very handy to have ready-made stock for soup or for flavoring vegetable and other recipes. And it’s free!

  387. Pteryxx says

    The broth gets boiled down to a concentrate and frozen in ice cube trays. I pop the cubes into freezer bags.

    …boiled DOWN… that might explain why I have so little freezer space left. Do you embiggen the cubes with water again to actually use the stock for soups or whatever? (…Or did I just use five times as much stock as necessary for that batch of rice?)

  388. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Do you embiggen the cubes with water again to actually use the stock for soups or whatever?

    You do it by trial and error, and by taste. For maximum flavor and storage in a small space, boil it down until the stock is super concentrated. Then, know that you only need one cube per cup (or whatever) of cooking food.

    The more you boil down the stock, the less you need to season a dish. You add water to the dish with the concentrated stock in the amount that seems right to your taste. Experiment- it’s fun!

  389. Azkyroth says

    Okay. That’ll be all kinds of helpful since I really have shot myself in the foot on freezer space. O.o

    Anyone happen to know offhand if producing a bitter flavor when heated is a general property of oranges? I tried adapting a cold lentil “salad” recipe (which I can’t eat due to ASD-related textural issues0 into a stew and it came out with a surprising bitter note similar to grossly overhopped beer (which always tastes like grapefruit to me).

  390. says

    Azkyroth:

    Anyone happen to know offhand if producing a bitter flavor when heated is a general property of oranges?

    Yes it is. If you want to heat/cook oranges, the type of orange seriously matters. If what you’re looking for is a good, acidic citrus flavour, get a quality juice to use in cooking. (I mean quality, too – don’t cheap out, spend the money on a good, actual juice.)

  391. says

    Azkyroth:

    Any estimates on how much you reduce the volume by?

    For stock, at least a quarter. For my beef stock, I start with 20 cups of water and take it to 1.5 or 2 cups. Depends on how rich you want it.

  392. The Laughing Coyote (Papio Cynocephalus) says

    I’ll always remember the spring I was living with the former friend and totally out of money. My solution was the only one I seem able to understand, sadly. I went out and killed frogs and one rabbit.

    Frogs are seriously NOT GROSS. You skin them out (and use ALL the body meat, not just the legs) and you get a nice clean white meat that tastes somewhere between mild fish and chicken.

    The rabbit I cooked with early spring dandelion greens and some stinging nettles. That stew lasted me a solid week and I picked every scrap of meat from that coney, right down to the thoracic vertebrae.

    BTW, Mikey, if you’re still reading (and I know you are): When I did have money, during those hard times, would it frost your country club balls to know I regularly spent my disability on lamb legs and whole ducks? I hope so. But there is a lot of meat on a lamb’s leg. Good meat, no need fork or knife. More than enough for a small to midsize carnivore who doesn’t need to share.

  393. says

    TLC, you aren’t the only person who hunts, or has hunted or gigged frogs. Personally, I don’t find frogs worth the effort, but that’s an individual thing.

    A lot of people in ND hunt, however, that’s certainly no answer to the myriad of people who live in cities, a majority of which have never even seen a cow in person and don’t have a grocery store within any sort of reasonable distance.

    For those who live in a place where they can hunt and know how to, yes, it can make the difference in starving or not. Spending your disability on lamb legs and whole ducks? That’s smart shopping – lots of eating there.

  394. The Laughing Coyote (Papio Cynocephalus) says

    That’s smart shopping – lots of eating there.

    Are you being sarcastic? Because everyone was always telling me what a dumbass I was being for spending my grocery money on lamb legs and ducks when I could be buying boxes of super cheap no-name brand macaroni and cheese, or crates of ramen noodles. Everyone.

    Lamb is so friggin good. There’s a farm or two out here and I can’t deny that my thoughts have occasionally wandered in the direction of how fast I got could a carcass over that fence and home in the dark of night. Though of course I’d never actually try anything, the smell is positively maddening. Someday I will raise my own flocks if I can, and eat lamb or goat any damn time I feel like it.

  395. The Laughing Coyote (Papio Cynocephalus) says

    Also I wanted to say, sorry, my earlier comment was a bit ignorant. Even privileged in a strange way? By no means is chasing and killing your own a practical solution for most people, and it probably wouldn’t have been long-term for me. Even the tiger only succeeds in what, 1 out of 20 kills? That’s a lot of effort. I was working my ass off.

    WRT to frog gigging: the actual effort varies with skill, and with a bit of practice I was getting pretty decent at bagging a quick meal. I’m stuck on the frogs because I was just on the phone with my ex talking about those days coincidentally, and she told me she nearly puked when I tried to explain to her how NOT GROSS frogs are when prepared. I love her, but she weirds me out sometimes.

  396. says

    TLC:

    Are you being sarcastic?

    No! I meant what I said, there’s a lot of eating there. As long as you weren’t paying exorbitant prices, of course, which I assume you weren’t.

    There’s a lot to be done with a leg of lamb and whole duck – roasting, casseroles, etc. That’s food that stretches a long way for one or two people.

  397. says

    finally finished reading this, long post following. But I first wanted to note something: I’m seriously privileged in terms of cooking skills. I can literally not imagine what precisely it means to not know how to cook. The things people have been mentioning here are somewhat mindboggling to me. for example, how does one not know what to do with beans? or not know that pretty much everything can be turned into soup as long as you have a tasty fat, salt, and onions? hell, i don’t even understand the thing people say about baking needing precision. I’ve never found this to be true, because even though things always turn out differently, they don’t ever turn out so bad as to be inedible.

    sooo…. yeah…. that was an interesting read.

  398. says

    There’s a lot to be done with a leg of lamb and whole duck – roasting, casseroles, etc. That’s food that stretches a long way for one or two people.

    a duck also produces a small jar full of fat that can be used for all sorts of things, like frying other foods

  399. says

    anyway, I did say I was going to take this thread point-by-point, and fuck me if I let a simple banning discourage me :-p

    But the flip side to this coin is that it is also possible to get healthy food for low prices. Alternatively, less can be eaten per meal. There are strong influencing factors here, but it ultimately comes down to the person (minus children, of course). Moreover, even if a person cannot afford a gym membership, the vast majority of people can afford to go for a walk around the block most days.

    this falls precisely into the “conspicuous willpower” thing I wrote about earlier: a lot of things could be done if the mental energy to do so was still available after a whole day of shitty work and shitty life.

    Also: mikey clearly never lived in really poor areas, especially in the west: I’d absolutely NEVER suggest going for a walk in such neighborhoods, as it’s pretty much asking to be run over (aside from the simple point that you don’t burn many calories from waling “around the block”, certainly a lot fewer than you already burn from the menial job-or-two you’re likely doing.

    but it is still a human body and it is still intentional mistreatment.

    this of course is often, maybe even usually, wrong. No one becomes intentionally fat; this smells of the free-will trap in which everything a person does is a pure, uncaused choice they’ve made. Given what we know about willpower and the correlation KG mentioned between social inequality and obesity, it’s an absurd claim to make. Not even carlie’s story is one about “intentionally” becoming fat, since she didn’t chose herself to be depressed and anxious.

    he hasn’t put forth due effort

    “due” to whom? who judges what is or isn’t “due effort”?

    Most Americans do not live in places where it is too dangerous for them to walk during the day.

    there are no sidewalks in many suburbs; there are no safe sidewalks in many urban areas(they’re obstructed, full of holes, etc.); there is very little snow-removal on sidewalks here in the midwest.

    I daresay that a significant chunk, if maybe not 50%+, of Americans do live in areas where walking infrastructure is insufficient to nonexisting.

    The vast majority of Americans have access to the Internet, cooking books, or knowledgeable people.

    reminds me of that idiot from Forbes. Knowledge really isn’t everything; it’s not even half of everything.

    Food stamps are a good thing, but let’s not pretend that there isn’t abuse. After all, aside from all the first hand accounts you can easily find, the reason states switched from bills to cards isn’t simply because it is convenient (though that and cost are the biggest factors). People used to buy something that cost just over a certain dollar amount. That would usually get them 90-99 cents back because there is no such thing as food coins.

    oh yeah, and mandatory drug-testing was also introduced for a valid reason [/sarc]. such bullshit; a lot of policies regarding welfare isn’t introduced because it’s actually necessary; it’s introduced because being poor is seen as a moral fault that requires punishment.

    Brownian already linked to the fundamental attribution error; I shall add to this the confirmation bias of remembering only the one or two instances of people doing this and those examples being readily accessible, thus skewing perception of incidence EXTREMELY

    and lastly, given that foodstamps mostly only buy food, people would sometimes do this (the getting change thing) to be able to afford other necessities; like toiletpaper, toothpaste, etc., which aren’t always included on the list of things one can buy with foodstamps.

    The point of food stamps is to help those in need. Tell me, please, who is in need of lobster?

    there you have it, folks: poor people have no psychologies that might suffer from lack of at least very occasional access to ubiquitously present “luxuries”.

    I’ve personally seen people intentionally buy candy bars that would add up to just over a certain dollar amount because they otherwise couldn’t afford their cigarettes. Is that not abuse?

    no. unless you suggest free rehab for nicotine addiction, denying people the access to smokes is just cruel.

    People buy luxury items (such as lobster) all the time.

    on the note of “such as”: some people shit their pants at the idea of poor people buying strawberries, even though the little fuckers are extremely nutrient-dense. “luxuries” is a surprisingly wide field, when it’s about denying any last bit of fun to poor people.

    (such as banning the purchasing of certain items, like Maine did with energy drinks).

    yeah! who needs caffeine/sugar-rushes when working 2 jobs! they should just make do with the energy mother nature gave them. or sleep on the job! next, let’s ban coffee; also, all sugar, condiments, and spices. poor people don’t need food to have taste, after all

    Anyway, whereas a number of Americans face undue hardships that make it very difficult (not impossible) to put forth an honest effort, that is not the case for the majority of people.

    what could “a majority of people” possibly mean, when currently half of Americans live pretty fucking close to poverty, and most have had at least one period in their lives where they were so poor that they gained a lot of weight that will now stay on forever?

    I am impressed with the number of people who don’t seem to realize that food stamps and other forms of welfare are a finite resource. When one person buys something unnecessary, that takes away from another person

    personally, I’m far more impressed by the number of people who had to explain that the amount of money doesn’t magically change regardless of what a person buys. Not even the claim that if they didn’t spend it on luxuries, they wouldn’t need assistance the next month makes any sense; unless you assume that poor people don’t have psychologies and thus can’t suffer negative mental health effects of “all work and no play”.

    If a person “needs” $300 in food stamps a month and $50 of that goes to lobsters without the person starving, that isn’t really “need”, now is it?

    because poor people are obviously not people with minds; they can’t suffer negative psychological effects. Of course.

    greedy individuals who want to splurge on expensive foods.

    a poor person who wants a lobster once in a while = greedy
    a spoiled middle class brat whining about their precious precious tax money being spent on lobsters for poor people = not greedy

    yeah, that totes makes sense.

    Give them twenty dollars or buy them a meal and a new shirt? I would do the latter because I want to make that person be better off, not just feel better off.

    point of interest: neither of those choices are making the person better off; they both (including your unspoken assumption that the homeless person will buy drugs of some sort) make the homeless person better for a time, in different ways. And maybe they need a fix a lot more than a meal or a new shirt just now. Am I supposed to interview them thoroughly before giving them anything?

    That temporarily benefits a few taste buds, but it does nothing to help the poor.

    because the poor are not really people who could suffer psychologically.

    You wouldn’t want contractors to continue charging the government $600 for hammers even though doing so probably created at least a few jobs for people who needed contracting work in order to support their families and keep their homes.

    that’s because job-creation is a wasteful way to hand money to people in general. just handing out money directly is better, regardless of what this money is spent on. not only did you not have a point, your analogy is an argument for the government supplying everyone with a cash-allowance instead of doing it the roundabout and wasteful way of “job-creation”

    It is there to adequately feed people so that they be as healthy as someone with money.

    and since poor people have no minds, we don’t need to worry about their psychological health; just feeding them tasteless gruel will make them just as healthy as a real person with psychological needs for happiness and joy.

    Look at what I said. Intentional mistreatment of a human body is a moral issue.

    and yet, you’re whining about cigarettes, as if nicotine addiction was intentional. also, no, what one does to oneself is never a moral issue; what one does to others is.

    However, when you say, once again, that I have overlooked anything, you are lying. Stop it.

    “the fact that I’ve completely ignored the psychological effects of what I propose isn’t because I’ve overlooked anything, it’s because poor people really don’t have psychologies”

    should go to those in mere want.

    “how many more times do I have to tell you folks that poor people don’t have minds that could get hurt by prolonged deprivation, especially while surrounded by the consumer culture that creates needs for its products! poor people are immune to our culture and anyway, they don’t have psychologies, so they don’t have psychological needs”

    However, if he (or anyone) does not do all that is reasonably in his power to try to be healthy, that is a moral issue.

    only by puritan standards. by secular, humanist standards, what I do with my body is none of your fucking business, and ethics don’t enter into it. Asshole.

    In case anyone is wondering, my positions have largely been utilitarian

    no, they haven’t. they’ve been ignorant, at best. utilitarian ethics don’t Other the poor by pretending they can be treated worse than animals and their psychological needs can be ignored.

    Third, people buy lobster with their food stamps all the time. It occurs more frequently around the holidays

    shocking, the poor wanting to actually have something special for the holidays. the nerve of them, pretending they’re people like that

    It’s hard to find stats on something like this, but most Americans do not have difficult access to quality foods.

    no, it actually isn’t that hard. even wikipedia has a well-sourced article about food-deserts

    I am not vilifying the poor.

    you’re othering and dehumanizing them by pretending they don’t have the same psychological needs non-poor people have.

    You, like PZ, wish to place no limits on what welfare funds can be used to purchase. Clearly there must be some limit.

    must there? I’ve seen no evidence for that being the case.

    Where have I said the poor don’t deserve nice things?

    you keep on saying it constantly, with your whining about lobsters, smokes, and “needs” that only include mere physical survival.

    What makes this a moral issue is that we’re talking about human bodies. If it is morally correct to treat the human body with respect, I see no reason why that should not extend to one’s own body.

    you can’t see the difference between how you treat others vs how you treat yourself?!

    O.o

    The only reason the treatment of the human body is a moral issue is because those “human bodies” are other people; who, by humanist ethics, deserve to not be harmed. OTOH, I am my own body, and as such ethics don’t apply.

  400. The Laughing Coyote (Papio Cynocephalus) says

    Caine: Ah, cool. THe prices were a bit high, but I considered it money well spent. I’m not a big eater to begin with, and quality over quantity was PARAMOUNT to me.

    There’s a HELL of a lot to be done with that, but since I was only feeding myself: Cook lamb leg until nicely browned outside and rare inside.

    Eat it, taking occasional breaks to smoke, sleep, poop, do other stuff, storing it in the fridge during these breaks. When almost eaten, make stew or meat pie. Remember to boil the remaining meat off the bone to absorb maximum nutrition from it. The bone was vital.

    Pretty much the same went for duck, and it was excellent. I regret not utilizing the livers and hearts though. I should have at least tried. Oh well, live n learn.

    As I said, many people told me I was an idiot for spending my disability on lamb and duck and other fresh delicious meats. They told me I was an idiot for buying veggies and eggs on a very charming ‘honor system’ from the farmer lady down the road because they were a bit more expensive than stuff I could get at superstore. But I regret none of it. I may not have eaten much, but damn if the food I did eat wasn’t exactly what the fuck I wanted to eat.

    I kinda wish I could have got here before Mike got banned so I could rub that in his smug face.

  401. says

    Frog is good eatin’.

    ####

    I just got back from a certain big box store that I won’t name (because people will yell at me) but I’ll give a hint: it starts with a W. It’s the only one open this time of night.

    Spent $89 and was able to carry almost my entire purchase into the apartment in one trip. Not all of it was food (I bought a smaller $6 stock pot—the one I use is too big for what I do—which, coincidentally, is the only thing I left in the car), but a good chunk was.

    ####

    Tomorrow I’m going back. They have 5-quart slow cookers for $15 and fairly good prices on bottom round roast. I’m wondering whether it would be feasible to adapt this recipe I just posted to the wiki to use a slow cooker instead of a dutch oven (considering I don’t have a dutch oven at the moment, and a decent dutch oven will probably cost much more than $15).

  402. says

    Jadehawk:

    fuck me if I let a simple banning discourage me

    Good, it was priceless, worth every word! You know that douchebisquit is reading anyway. Not that it will change anything about his puritan attitude, but I hope he chokes on not being able to reply.

  403. Azkyroth says

    by secular, humanist standards, what I do with my body is none of your fucking business, and ethics don’t enter into it.

    Hell, it’s not our business even if ethics do enter into your body. No need to judge.

    (Ethics are full of fiber. ^.^)

  404. says

    Benjamin, Dutch ovens are used to slow cook in an oven, so anything made for one should easily translate to a slow cooker. By the way, a slow cooker is a good investment, you’ll see that money back in no time once you start using it.

  405. The Laughing Coyote (Papio Cynocephalus) says

    Yes, well said Jadehawk.

    And were the people calling me a dumbass for spending my money on lamb and duck instead of Mac and Cheese perhaps displaying just a bit of that puritan attitude?

  406. says

    TLC:

    And were the people calling me a dumbass for spending my money on lamb and duck instead of Mac and Cheese perhaps displaying just a bit of that puritan attitude?

    Hey, you didn’t buy a lobster with food stamps! Apparently, that’s ever so serious, a mortal sin or some such.

  407. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    And were the people calling me a dumbass for spending my money on lamb and duck instead of Mac and Cheese perhaps displaying just a bit of that puritan attitude?

    Yep. There’s a surprising amount of that going around in these parts.

  408. The Laughing Coyote (Papio Cynocephalus) says

    Josh: Ah yes, not only that but the turtles found in this particular area are all released red eared sliders. Unfortunately, none of them reside anywhere I could actually hunt them round these parts. And if I could hunt those areas, my first targets would be geese.

    Northern pikeminnows abound here and no fishing license is required, no bag limits at all, and I think next spring/summer I may try stocking up on those at the lake and smoking a bunch. Pikeminnows are considered ‘garbage fish’ because they prey on salmon and trout juveniles, and are more difficult to prepare what with the bones. However they taste good and certainly aren’t toxic or anything.

    If I was forced to think like this in an urban environment, I think my first thought would be ‘pigeons’. But if I was forced to live in an urban environment, food would be the least of my terrors. *shudder*

  409. says

    Azkyroth:

    I wonder what kind of meat you’d get off a “1%”er… ;/

    Wouldn’t be worth it, the stench of self-righteousness would ruin any attempt to prepare it, like stirring up the burnt bottom on a stew.

  410. says

    what I forgot to mention in my long post is that there’s no way to apply utilitarian ethics to a demand that people must spend “due effort” on not being/becoming fat. “fat” has no utilitarian meaning, and there’s some studies that show it’s not THAT good a predictor for actual health-problems; and even if it were, health, from an utilitarian point of view, is something desirable because the lack thereof makes living a happy life more difficult. Making everyone’s life more difficult in the pursuit of unachievable “health” is the opposite of utilitarian ethics; it’s deontological ethics that designate “not-fat” as an inherent good and calling it “health”

  411. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Hehehe. My tagging didn’t work- I was making a joke about Terry Pratchett’s story “Small Gods.” Gah.I hate having to explain;)

  412. says

    Josh, you mean the turtle? I got that, but I’m split between three threads right now, so I didn’t comment. Sorry!

    Hmmm, there’s a starving Omnian and a turtle…

    :D

  413. says

    what I forgot to mention in my long post is that there’s no way to apply utilitarian ethics to a demand that people must spend “due effort” on not being/becoming fat.

    actually, I take that back; there is, if your starting axiom is “no fat people”; I sometimes forget that the starting axiom of utilitarian ethic systems is arbitrarily chosen, and as such doesn’t have to be anything along the lines of “happier lives for more people”

    nonetheless, I reserve the right to judge people with such starting axioms as fucking idiots.

  414. RahXephon231 says

    @Jadehawk

    I’ve been trying to explain to many people for a long time that basing health decisions solely on weight is intellectually lazy and also damaging to people’s health. I know there’s a blog that I believe is called “First, Do No Harm” that documents stories of fat patients who were mocked or just outright ignored by their doctors when they had real health problems but all the doctors were interested in was their weight.

    It just makes me angry that people don’t bother to do studies about the relation between certain diseases and fatness and which way the causal link actually goes, or those people who ignore such studies that don’t back up their anti-fat bias because they don’t care about reality, they just wanna be able to tell fatty to drop the curly fries!

  415. says

    Bits and bobs of vegetables should always be saved for stock.

    Although you may want to avoid red cabbage. I’m currently slowly working through 6 servings of bright pink “leek soup”. It’s perfectly nice tasting, but my eyes say otherwise.

    I look forward to experimenting with the tops of leeks, i always thought it a bit of a waste to chop them off.

    I can literally not imagine what precisely it means to not know how to cook.

    I was once asked by a 30 year old. “So…erm… how exactly do you slice an onion?”. My mind…it boggled.

  416. carlie says

    RahXephon231, yeah. There was something awhile back that dug down into a “more fat people die of x cancer so fat is a cause of x cancer” study, and it turned out that all of those fat people who died of x cancer got it diagnosed at a far later stage of development than their thin counterparts, because they avoided going to the doctor in general due to the fat-shaming.

    I know I just about cried from relief the first time I went to a new doctor and the nurse simply grabbed the bigger blood pressure cuff from a drawer without saying a word about it, rather than having to go through the whole “your blood pressure is really high,” “no you should try the bigger cuff” “OH! Sorry about that, well now look, it’s ok!!” embarrassing dance.

  417. RahXephon231 says

    @carlie

    I guess I was lucky with my doctor. He’s never said word one about my weight, and neither did his physician’s assistant that I saw before him. I had some problems with fatigue for awhile and he did lots of exams and blood work on me, testing for everything from diabetes to thyroid issues. Turns out I’m totally (physically) healthy, I’m just fat. This seems to boggle some people’s minds.

  418. RahXephon231 says

    @carlie

    There was something awhile back that dug down into a “more fat people die of x cancer so fat is a cause of x cancer” study, and it turned out that all of those fat people who died of x cancer got it diagnosed at a far later stage of development than their thin counterparts, because they avoided going to the doctor in general due to the fat-shaming.

    Sorry to double post, but I forgot to mention this. You’re exactly right with this, it’s exactly these kinds of causation that need to be investigated. I know better than to trust someone saying “here’s a study that shows fat causes X disease” considering that:

    1. There is explicit anti-fat bias in the medical community.
    2. This bias, like other biases, will interfere with research and the interpretation of research results.
    3. This bias also causes doctors to treat fat patients like they’re stupid sacks of crap.

    I especially am skeptical when the study results are vague. Statements like “being fat increases your risk of X disease/cancer”, I’d like to know how much of an increase there is. I’d like to know a mechanism for how fatness is related to the disease. I’d like to know if situations like you mentioned where fat people are less likely to trust doctors or even go to doctors is actually responsible.

  419. cicely, Disturber of the Peas says

    Third, people buy lobster with their food stamps all the time. It occurs more frequently around the holidays

    shocking, the poor wanting to actually have something special for the holidays. the nerve of them, pretending they’re people like that

    Or, FSM forbid, wanting to give their kids a bit of a treat for special occasions! ‘Cause poor people aren’t entitled to have “special occasions”; it’s nose-to-grindstone 24/7 for them, and the sooner their kids learn that (and, of course, their place) the better.

    I wonder what kind of meat you’d get off a “1%”er… ;/

    Greasy/oily.

    Hmmm, there’s a starving Omnian and a turtle…

    “Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.””

    :)
    -

  420. Matt Penfold says

    I look forward to experimenting with the tops of leeks, i always thought it a bit of a waste to chop them off.

    Leek trimmings make for an excellent addition to stock. Or if you are roasting meat, use the trimmings as a trivet along with some carrots, celery and a bayleaf. One the meat is done, add some flour to the roasting dish over a heat source and stir well in. Add some wine or cider and some stock, and simmer. Mash the veg with the back of a spoon. Pass through a sieve and serve as a delish gravy.

  421. Pteryxx says

    The things people have been mentioning here are somewhat mindboggling to me. for example, how does one not know what to do with beans?

    …They’re mysterious hard lumps in a bag. There’s a million kinds. They don’t even count as food until they’re cooked, or soaked and cooked, or something, and sometimes they’re poisonous if you don’t do them right. Or they just turn out as partially hard lumps that still aren’t quite food. Also, they don’t seem to taste like much of anything so even if you figure out how to cook them, they still need other ingredients added. Also, the microwave avails you naught.

    Anyway, beans are STILL fairly intimidating to me, but I learned to get bean soup mix and add ‘em to the bottom of the crockpot for stews. …That’s actually all I know, so far. I don’t dare try and cook beans directly.

    Rice is intimidating, too. I finally learned to make it, after ruining many batches with too much/not enough water or too much/not enough cooking time or the wrong size pot, because you really really need rice to go underneath stir-fry. Two days ago was the first time I’d ever made rice using stock, and WHOA. I’m doing THAT again.

    I was once asked by a 30 year old. “So…erm… how exactly do you slice an onion?”. My mind…it boggled.

    I’ll have y’all know that I taught MYSELF how to cut onions by trial and error, so they’d look like the ones I saw in stir-fries or pot roast in the buffet restaurant. (Seriously. I made my first pot roast to imitate what I saw at Golden Corral.)

    However, I have never owned or used a cutting board until this past week. (I cut everything on a clean extra plate. My partner considers me a cutting-board Philistine.)

    also: experiment of the morning, turnip greens (I asked at the grocery store, “You can eat these, right?”) + garlic + mushrooms + leftover rice + sriracha + peanut sauce + microwave.

    …YES THIS OMG THIS IS WHY FOOD WAS INVENTED <3

  422. says

    Rice is intimidating, too.

    that one makes as little sense to me as the “baking needs precision” thing. But that’s apparently because I cook rice “wrong”, since I boil it exactly the same way I boil pasta: throw into a randomly sized pot of salted water, stir occasionally, taste occasionally, drain when it stops crunching. Apparently, that’s somehow “wrong”, which is stupid: if it makes edible rice, it can’t be wrong

  423. Pteryxx says

    throw into a randomly sized pot of salted water, stir occasionally, taste occasionally, drain when it stops crunching.

    …And that works? With the lid off and everything? Wow. I might try that, even though I’ve (mostly) perfected my particular Rice-Making Dance Steps, just to see.

    (random) Also, because of y’all’s suggestions, I am SO going to get some leeks and try to make soup with them and potatoes. I unearthed one of those things with the square holes that you mash potatoes with! Muahahahah!

  424. scriabin says

    I encourage everyone to read some Michael Pollan.

    His basic approach? Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

    Generally, his approach is a breath of fresh air on this subject.

  425. says

    I unearthed one of those things with the square holes that you mash potatoes with! Muahahahah!

    A pharyngulite loose with a taty-masher. Oh dear.

    Jadehawk, i don’t even bother with the salt. Though Pteryxx i do put the top on since you aren’t losing heat and water then.

    Actually if you are doing one serving, throw the rice in a thermos flask with boiling water, give it a shake and leave it for about 30 mins. You should be able to do pasta and noodles the same way. You might be able to do an entire noodle soup this way but i’ve never tried. Useful at work, if all you have is a kettle and a crappy microwave.

  426. carlie says

    They’re mysterious hard lumps in a bag. There’s a million kinds. They don’t even count as food until they’re cooked, or soaked and cooked, or something, and sometimes they’re poisonous if you don’t do them right. Or they just turn out as partially hard lumps that still aren’t quite food. Also, they don’t seem to taste like much of anything so even if you figure out how to cook them, they still need other ingredients added. Also, the microwave avails you naught.

    ARE YOU ME???

    I didn’t cook beans at all, apart from baked beans out of a can and refried beans out of a can, until I was probably 30. And then I didn’t try dried beans until about 35 or so. I still give dried beans a bit of a stink-eye at the supermarket. Stupid knowing what you want to cook the day before-ness.

    scriabin – Pollan is nice if you can afford to eat the way he eats. He has a bit of a blind spot to how a lot of the country lives (see entire discussion above). Yes, I adore the eggs I get from our local farmers, and I’ve never tasted chicken as good as the ones I get from the farmer up the road who apprenticed with Joel Salatin. But even with a co-op that does online ordering, I have to remember to order them in time before the sunday deadline, then remember to go across town on Friday afternoon to pick them up, and not wince at paying about $12 for a 3 pound chicken.

  427. says

    Leek trimmings make for an excellent addition to stock.

    I’ll try this once i’ve eaten the purple-stuff. I rarely do a roast unfortunately. Chicken, dice it, stick it with some veg and a sauce is my level at the moment.

    There’s a gujarati vegetarian cookbook waiting to be cracked open on my kitchen table but the 2 full pages of herbs and spices i don’t currently own put me off somewhat. Learnin is hard!

  428. says

    …And that works? With the lid off and everything?

    yep; the rice will have a slightly different consistency, but that’s all. It still will be soft, tasty, and entirely edible (it won’t be sticky though, so not good for eating with chop sticks :-p )

    though, yeah, if you do have a lid, you can put it on, that way you can switch the heat lower and don’t waste that much energy. but cooking-wise, it makes no difference

  429. scriabin says

    Carlie – fair enough (I don’t live in the States). Eating local can be almost impossible, depending on economics and geography. But another good message from Pollan (I think) is to try to not eat food that your grandparents wouldn’t recognize (in other words, ease up on the processed crap). Hopefully that is a *little* more realistic a goal for many folks.

    I applaud some of Jamie Oliver’s efforts to get healthy food to schoolkids (rather than junk food and takeaway), too.

    Both individuals bring good policy ideas to the table. And their approaches highlight how our society has lost its way, with food (and food preparation).

    Frankly and sadly, in the States I don’t know if there is a national will to treat good nutrition for *everybody* as important. Sounds like soshulism!!!!11!

  430. Pteryxx says

    but the 2 full pages of herbs and spices i don’t currently own put me off somewhat. Learnin is hard!

    IMHO: salt, pepper, some form of garlic (cloves, diced in a jar, powder in a shaker, whatever) and then buy some sauce in bottles or packets to start out. Honestly, though it miiight cost more, making your own *sauces* is a high enough bar in time, ingredients, and know-how that I think it’s justifiable to get sauce pre-made. Most good fresh ingredients tend to generate their own flavorings. That steak I made last night was in olive oil, salt and pepper sprinkled on, and the potatoes and onions cooked in the stuff the steak left in the pan. No other spices necessary.

    All the spices I use so far are that list (salt, pepper, garlic) plus ginger (usually as powder) and sriracha. That’s it. I buy peanut sauce and orange-ginger sauce in bottles, and those go on certain stir-fries and rice, such as the aforementioned turnip greens. I use spice packets for Thai tom kah gai soup, for instance, rather than buy galangal and lemongrass and lime juice or whatever (and I have a packet of phad thai sauce that I intend to use this week, along with learning how rice noodles work).

    Oh – and the liquid from soaking dried shiitake mushrooms. Sooo good in the steaming part of stir-fry, or as rice-making liquid, or in scrambled eggs to make them fluffier (gotta thank my partner for that trick, also).