Time redeems itself

August 29th, 2009  |  Published in Stumpblog  |  5 Comments

OK, I almost forgive Time for their estupido “don’t bother exercising” piece: Getting Real About the High Cost of Cheap Food asks a simple question: What is the true cost of food?

If we consider food through its entire life cycle, from seed to table to disposal, it becomes clear that we’re living on borrowed time and money. “Penny wise, pound foolish” applies also to what we eat, and it’s increasingly obvious that looking for the lowest prices hasn’t done us any favours.

Unfortunately, despite the availability of cheap crap, low-cost healthy food can be harder to access in many poorer neighbourhoods. In part, this reflects less about the cost of food and more about what is subsidized: GMO corn and soy, high-fructose corn syrup production*, etc. In part, it also reflects social-geographic priorities about what is important and valuable. It reflects the distribution system of industrial food production, which makes it more pricey to produce and ship, for example, fresh produce. And it reflects our expectations — about what we should pay for food.

Investing in conservation (e.g. of dwindling fish stocks) may seem like an expensive proposition at the outset (as all investments do), but expecting that the earth will yield increasingly cheap goodies forever will eventually become much more costly.

In the meantime, we can continue to eat — cheaply — such gourmet delights as the KFC Double Down. I’m a bit pissed that KFC stole my idea for a “meat glove” that would eliminate the need for bread (which essentially provides a thermal barrier) with a hot meat sandwich. However, kudos for their forward-thinking in making the “meat glove” more meat. Why didn’t I come up with that?

Now I’m running to the kitchen to figure out how to make a steak-wrapped steak fajita.

*BTW I talked to a food chemist who works for Coke this weekend. Apparently the smell of HFCS being manufactured is barfworthy.


  1. elizabeth says:

    August 29th, 2009at 10:06 pm(#)

    Theres a sugar beet refinery that makes table sugar in a town quite close to mine (a few years and I’m sure they’ll be calling it a suburb). The smell of them making table-sugar out of sugar beets isn’t all that pleasant either :).

  2. Lauren says:

    August 31st, 2009at 8:49 am(#)

    …let us know when you figure out how to wrap that steak-wrapped steak fajita in bacon and deep fry it. Can I get fries with that?

  3. Sarah says:

    September 1st, 2009at 4:40 pm(#)

    That was a good article but it didn’t really look at the reasons why we don’t prioritize food… if we as a culture are going to value food more, we’re going to have to value other things less. I know a lot of people who claim that they don’t have the time or the money to put the effort into shopping locally and/or organically – but they have time to work 50 hour weeks and money to spend on houses and cars. They’re not luxury models of either, but I have a 1989 Honda Civic and a family unit that chose to rent possibly forever in exchange for one person staying home to pay attention to things like childcare and FOOD. I’m not saying this would work for everyone, but it’s not the only way to devote time and money to sustainable food. Family units themselves aren’t very well set up to accommodate greater emphasis on food acquisition and preparation, now that having one’s parents live with one is considered something that only immigrants do, or some kind of psychological hell. Or that having a live-in nanny is something only for the super-rich and indulgent. The point is that for most people, organizing LIFE with the time and funds for good food are a priority is just not on the radar. That is what needs to change first – the foodways will change themselves once people stop shopping for food at Walmart and Costco.

  4. palindrome says:

    September 10th, 2009at 12:41 pm(#)

    Currently in my test kitchen trying to figure out a sandwich composed of two carnitas burritos with a delicious slab of steak nestled in between.

    The problem is that the burritos always rupture and get everywhere. Any suggestions?

  5. Mistress Krista says:

    September 10th, 2009at 1:39 pm(#)

    What about using some kind of support system? Say, wrapping it in bacon?

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