“Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?”
I get it, I get it, I get it, but for many people it’s a matter of accessibility, not just affordability. This fact gets a passing mention, but it’s wrapped up in so much privilege and fat-shaming that I really cannot. Oh, most people who live in food deserts have access to cars, do they? Cars that cost nothing to maintain and run, thereby adding no cost whatsoever to your food budget?
I wish I could be coherent about this right now, but at the moment I’m just annoyed. Stupid poor people, it’s your fault if you’re malnourished and diabetic! Junk food isn’t even cheaper! Watch less television and spend that time driving to the nearest grocery store, you lazy asshole! You’re poor, so you must toil nobly toward the grave for me to give you even the slightest amount of credit! After all, it’s your choice! Concern trolling! TROLOLOL!
Um, not to mention the prices on this are ridiculously low.
I hate everything.
Some observations on this, in no particular order…
- You know beans have to be soaked, right? At least the dry beans you buy in pound bags do, which is what the prices they’re quoting here would require, cause canned beans are more expensive. They have to be soaked like overnight or something (I wouldn’t know from experience cause well, I’m lazy and don’t buy shit that requires me to cook it for days). It’s not like you can just come home from the store and be like “Rawr beans tonight!” or something. This kind of cheap cooking takes more work. It’s sort of the law of food: it can be fast or it can be cheap, but it can’t be both.
- Some people have food dispreferences. Strong ones. Like those bell peppers? Pretty for color, but I wouldn’t eat anything that had them in it because I find them disgusting. Or do poor people not deserve to have food that tastes good to them, they’re supposed to just choke down whatever YOU think they should be eating? Yeah fuck that and fuck you if you think that way. And if the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers” makes an appearance I will smash your head against a wall.
- All the prices for grocery-store-bought food here are quoted at apparently the price per portion required. You…DO know that that’s not how you buy food, right? You actually have to buy the whole package. Which means your grocery bill will not be this low. Yeah, this is what it averages out to per meal (maybe; I agree that the prices seem low. Anyone know where they get these prices?) but sometimes you don’t HAVE the $50 or more you’d need to buy everything for your week’s worth of meals in the quantities they actually come in, at least not right now, but you DO have the $20 to hit up fast food. Sometimes what’s economically efficient long-term has to give way to what’s possible with what you’ve got RIGHT NOW.
- If you’re being frugal, you don’t get the damn Big Mac meal. You get the super-nuggets-deal that’s like, 20 chicken nuggets for $5 or $10 for the 20 nuggets plus two large fries and two large drinks. That’s less than HALF the quoted price. Obviously the people who make these graphics never actually had to do the cheap thing at fast food.
- Also you don’t go to McDonald’s unless that’s the only thing around or you’re really craving it. You go to Taco Hell. 89 cent chicken burritos, y’all. Get ten of those for ten bucks including tax. Done. That’s two burritos apiece for a four-person family and you’ve got two left over in case anyone is still hungry. (Can you tell I’ve done this before?)
- Not everyone has access to a fully-stocked kitchen with all the pots and pans and counter space and appliances you’d need to make these.
- Not everyone even knows how to cook.
- Cooking takes more time than drive-thru. Not everyone has the time for cooking.
- Also when you cook you make dishes that need cleaned before you can cook again. Not everyone has the time or energy for that.
I have some disagreements with a few of the previous comments but ultimately they are all valid. I often don’t agree with Mark Bittman as he can take too simplistic an approach. However, I think this quote from the article is important:
Real cultural changes are needed to turn this around. Somehow, no-nonsense cooking and eating — roasting a chicken, making a grilled cheese sandwich, scrambling an egg, tossing a salad — must become popular again, and valued not just by hipsters in Brooklyn or locavores in Berkeley. The smart campaign is not to get McDonald’s to serve better food but to get people to see cooking as a joy rather than a burden, or at least as part of a normal life.
I don’t see a lot of victim blaming here but I’ve been fortunate enough to always have plenty of food available and come from a family that had the time and resources available to learn to love cooking. One previous comment regarded the green bell pepper as a problem because they don’t like them or that if you really wanted to make a dollar go farther, you’d go to Taco Bell (both valid points). However, he mentions using dried beans (those in the photo are canned, they are already fully cooked) and carrots instead of peppers to knock the price down even more. It’s not that this is what you have to eat everyday but that there are cheaper alternatives to a full dinner out at McDonald’s. Though would a struggling family really buy 4 drinks?
I don’t think the point of this is to show that all fat/poor people are wasting money they don’t have eating at McDonald’s but that as a culture and society we should try very hard to move toward accepting that fast food is not always the cheaper option and that learning to cook is ultimately a better decision.
Though access to a car is a huge issue and there are not enough local grocery stores in this country. You should be able to walk to a nearby grocery, even if it’s a small one. This is most often not the case.