Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Corporate America - Can it be stopped?


pork
 Share

Recommended Posts

Five per cent of a vast array of choices being good ones sounds great to me. :wink:

It also sounds higher than it is for a lot of stuff, books for instance. I'm an omnivorous reader, but finding three titles that appeal in a bookstore with 20,000 titles is often a chore.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

but if more people made the choice to not buy the shady stuff, perhaps the price could drop more, and we could actually affect change in the way the big boys do business at the very least.

out of curiosity how much more is it per month? not buying free-range organic everything - but if you ensured that meats, poultry, dairy and eggs came from either local sources, or were certified organic? vegetables and fruits, grains and cereals can come from wherever you wanted to get them?

actually - who was it that is doing that project now? he just did a blog - i'm curious to see how much more expensive it's been for him. (of course his name is escaping me right now)

Would take me a looooooooooong time to tally up everything for a month. Let's do a couple of items. Like I bought some chicken breasts (with ribs) for $1.19/pound - and ground round for $3.29/pound at Publix this week (I don't set foot in Walmart). So much does the free-range/organic stuff cost? Robyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the chicken is $2.99/lb and the ground sirloin is $3.49/lb from Harry's Farmers Market. The breast meat on it's own is also $2.99 a lb tho - so i'd prolly go with that - except i don't really eat chicken.

Edited by tryska (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

actually - who was it that is doing that project now? he just did a blog - i'm curious to see how much more expensive it's been for him. (of course his name is escaping me right now)

A small point...

I can't remember what he (jwagner...sp?) said about cost, but I do recall that he said he and his wife both dropped over 20 lbs in 6 months. According to him this was not b/c they were eating less but rather that they had severely cut back on processed foods...(and one would presume, a gain in fruits and vegetables).

Eating less processed food and fast food definately improved their long term health--which is also a plus in terms of economic issues (medical bills, missed work, etc)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

damn, prices really are super high in DC. I live in Atlanta. Like barely suburban atlanta. and those prices are from the store that only stocks organic meats. (the one owned by Whole Foods)

Yes, the store owners must think everyone here is an overpaid diplomat. Granted, average salaries are high in DC and the surrounding suburbs, but the cost of living is just outrageous. Don't even get me started on the price of real estate. :rolleyes:

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also have a pack of red/yellow/orange peppers (6 for $6 - about half what local grocery stores charge) - a pack of red/yellow/orange mini peppers ($4 for lots - unavailable anywhere else here) - I do like peppers  :smile:

Robyn, I am with you on the peppers. I don't see how a grocery can charge what they do for peppers (and here in South La, at least for part of the year, many of them are locally grown) at the grocery store when other outlets can sell them for so much less. I do not think that a store of any size would use them for a loss leader, as frankly, red, yellow, purple, etc., bell peppers are not something any stores sell a ton of anyway, if you use shelf space as a judging criteria.

And I love em too :laugh:

Well - when something is expensive - people treat it as a luxury item. You buy one at a time and use it sparingly. At $6 for 6 large ones - I throw them in and on lots of things. Scrambled eggs with onions and peppers - sausage and peppers - salads with fresh peppers - heck - we even buy frozen pizzas at Costco (Freschette - 3 for about $11 at Costco) - and "customize" them with fresh peppers - mushrooms - onions - etc.

When something you used to use like a luxury item becomes cheap - you start digging out a lot of recipes. I did with peppers what I did a while back with salmon (remember when it was $15/pound on sale!).

And then the opposite happens too. I used to buy my pine nuts relatively cheaply at a local "health food store". Then it went out of business - and I couldn't face spending $30 on a bunch of pine nuts to make a batch of pesto (I grow my own basil - so I can get all I need for the summer for $3 at the start of the season). Then when Costco opened - I could buy pine nuts for even less than what I was paying at the local health food store. And the pesto re-emerged as a summer staple.

By the way - the pine nuts at Costco are from China. Is this a moral problem (it's not a taste problem)? It's the same issue faced by US garlic growers (competition from China) - and obviously lots of other industries in the US. I ask the question rhetorically - because competition from China in terms of goods and India in terms of services is one of the largest issues the US economy will face in the next decade - and a decent discussion of the implications is well beyond what I have the time or space to write tonight.

By the way - judging from your description of your mother in another message (I still haven't figured out how to unnest nested quotes so I can quote things without cluttering up the message board - so I will combine 2 messages in one) - I think you would enjoy Ruth Reichl's biographical books (especially the descriptions of her mother's cooking). Make a "hint" for a stocking stuffer if you haven't read them. My mother is straight out of the movie "Mother" with Albert Brooks and Debbie Reynolds. Everything is frozen. My parents grill a chicken - freeze it - and reheat it. No wonder it's dry as the Sahara. If you haven't seen the movie - it's fun too. Might be a good idea for a thread - "food themes" in the movies (but I don't have time to start it now). Take care, Robyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The most recent mass case of listeria which killed a bunch of people (if I am remembering correctly) came from D'Artagnan/Hudson valley products (foie gras pates and the like).  It wasn't exactly low end stuff.  Robyn

do you know how those products were processed?

my beef (pardon the pun) is not with any specific product. My concern is how the product got from whatever animal it came from and onto my plate.

if that process involves forced animal containment and overcrowding , antibiotics, hormones, unnatural diets, assembly line meat packing plants where cross-contamination can occur, cross-country logisitics (increasing the disease vector) and the use of underskilled, underpaid, oftentimes illegal workers, then it's not something i can/will financially support.

apply this thinking to whatever you want to apply it too, and suffice to say, in this day and age, it definitely limits my choices - whether it be fast food, grocery store food, or even restaurant food.

The products were processed in a plant in New York City (Brooklyn if I recall correctly). I also took a look- and read the the US Department of Agriculture has put new rules into effect to inspect processing plants for listeria (previously - only animal inspections were required). There are a ton of web sites on listeria - and you can read them at your leisure.

The organism that causes listeria occurs on a fairly regular basis in animals (whether they're organic or not). It's not a sign that anyone has done anything wrong. An infected animal can contaminate a processing plant - and my understanding is that once the proessing plant is contaminated - there's basically nothing you can do except shut the place down. Listeria can be killed by cooking at high heat levels - so you're most likely to wind up getting sick with it by eating processed meats - like sausages - hot dogs - cold cuts - pates - etc. - which aren't cooked a lot - or at all.

Absolutely nothing you mention would decrease your chances of getting sick from listeria (or most other food illnesses for that matter). Just like nothing you mention would decrease your chances of getting a food illness from a rare burger. Cooking things thoroughly will (although obviously most of us wouldn't care to eat a thoroughly cooked pate).

Are you familiar with why you have a much greater chance of getting a food illness from a rare burger than a rare steak (I'm a person who loves rare meat - so I keep up on these things <smile>)?

You confuse a lot of things in your message. Forced animal containment has nothing to do with food safety. Neither does the use of underpaid workers. There are perhaps arguments to be made against these things - but they are political - not a question of public health. So you have to decide whether you want to talk politics - or public health. If you want to discuss both - at least do them separately.

By the way - I have to mention - as I have in other places on this board - that I thought D'Artagnan was as terrific as it could be about this incident. It cooperated in a recall - notified people like me - as well as its many commercial customers - all the best restaurants - everyone it could find who had bought its products - and gave us a full refund - even though it lost almost 100% of its Christmas/New Year's sales one year. That is why it is still in business - and people still buy from the company. Robyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What I find interesting about this thread is we would not have been able to have this debate about organics, non-organics, farm vs factory meat, etc. not too many years ago because these choices did not exist in any meaningful way.

And while small retailers and suppliers certainly were on the leading edge of providing some alternatives, it was only when large companies got behind them that anything like broad choices were available to the average consumer.

I think it is safe to assume that if and when consumers start demanding that ALL their meat, eggs, dairy, fruit and vegetables be produced without pesticides, hormones, free range, etc., food companies large and small will find a way to do it.

You want $2 lemons and $10 chickens? People can rant and rave all they want about pesticide-free this - or free-range that - but exactly how much are you prepared to spend for food? On the other hand - it might be the cure for our national obesity problem :wink: . Robyn (I never saw a fat person in Norway - no one there can afford to be fat)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the chicken is $2.99/lb and the ground sirloin is $3.49/lb from Harry's Farmers Market. The breast meat on it's own is also $2.99 a lb tho - so i'd prolly go with that - except i don't really eat chicken.

You eat beef - but not chicken? Why? Robyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...Neither does the use of underpaid workers.  There are perhaps arguments to be made against these things - but they are political - not a question of public health

I am pulling on one string in this sweater.

I agree that this is a political issue, but it seems to me that at some point employee wages could result in a public health issue.

Am I reaching too far on this?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Costco I shop at in Yonkers offers fresh mozzarella as well as the industrial pizza-cheese low-moisture variety; prosciutto di parma is also sold there

I've had the mozzarella. In my opinion, it is lousy. And the prosciutto is either already pre-sliced and packaged or you have to buy a big chunk and slice it yourself.

FG, as for the bread, I'm stunned you think the Costco bread tastes better than bread from Arthur Avenue. I think either Terranova or Arthur Avenue Baking blows Costco away.

"These pretzels are making me thirsty." --Kramer

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i don't eat chicken as much as beef because it's not one of my preferred foods.

as for the various political and public health issues, they aren't particularly tangled, to me. you're trying to find a logic to argue against, but i'm not arguing. I's just giving you my various reasons for making the choices i make.

primarily it's a health concern for me - the concern being antibiotics and hormones used in "making" meat today.

why are these hormones and antibiotics used? the hormones are used to obviously make more of the product in question, whether it be meat or a meat byproduct. However, I believe you are what you eat - and i really could do without the extra rBGH among others. why are the antibiotics put into feed? because animals are forced to essentially sit in their own sh*t, in overcrowded conditions, or to keep disease at bay from constant milking. So herein comes what you see as a political issue. don't overcrowd animals, no need for antibiotics, ergo no antibiotics in the meat i eat.

now on to listeria, e coli, etc. yes all animals contain them. in their gut. i'm not concerned about me catching it - i'm well aware of proper food-handling. the reason it concerns me is because of the assembly line nature of meat-packing plants today. A bunch of under-trained mostly illegals are the people doing the processing. They are also underpaid (since they are undertrained illegals). There is one person to put the hammer to a cows head, another to sever the neck, another to drain the blood, and countless others wielding knives of one sort or the other. These people work in cramped conditions, and are forced into as high productivity as can be acheived. This leads to rushed, sloppy work which leads to cross-contamination - if you're not fully skilled and don't know what your doing it's quite easy to infect meat for eating, with gut juices while butchering. not to mention the chances of chopping various bodyparts off.

so now you've got some infected meat on your line - if it's the scraps it goes into a giant meat grinder thing that basically takes all the extra cow trimmings and grinds it all together - and this is why chances of listeria are higher with ground beef than with steak.

again - like i said my problem isn't that i will specifically get food poisoning - this may be a travesty to some, but i prefer all my meat fully cooked through. in any case, my concern is with the increased disease vector, as i said before - that comes with shipping this contaminated meat all over the country. now rather than having a cluster of 10 or 12 people who've gotten sick at a picnic because of improperly handled potato salad - you've now got the possibiltiy of hundreds getting sick and or dying in several different states from the same lot of meat. One can educate on proper food handling, but i have to say, all these precautions wouldn't be as necessary if the meat wasn't handled poorly from the get-go.

i hope this clarifies for you the political/public health reasons I have for the choices i've made.

Edited by tryska (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

By the way - judging from your description of your mother in another message (I still haven't figured out how to unnest nested quotes so I can quote things without cluttering up the message board - so I will combine 2 messages in one) - I think you would enjoy Ruth Reichl's biographical books (especially the descriptions of her mother's cooking). Make a "hint" for a stocking stuffer if you haven't read them. My mother is straight out of the movie "Mother" with Albert Brooks and Debbie Reynolds. Everything is frozen. My parents grill a chicken - freeze it - and reheat it. No wonder it's dry as the Sahara. If you haven't seen the movie - it's fun too. Might be a good idea for a thread - "food themes" in the movies (but I don't have time to start it now). Take care, Robyn

As a general rule, I love all Albert Brooks movies and I particularly liked that one. My favorite character in it was the brother. What a great part!

I have read much Ruth Reichl over the years and have always enjoyed her work. While the social circumstances of my upbringing often bordered on surreal, the food was amazing. I have written a couple of essays for newspapers over the years on this subject and really enjoy thinking about it. My Mom can cook. I am grateful for it. My parents traveled and still do and she likes to cook what she eats elsewhere, so it was not always a diet of Southern Staples, but all manner of incredible foods. I was very lucky that way. My interest in food stems directly from what we ate as children.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Frankly, I don't understand where you guys are coming from because in my eyes, we have more choice than ever before.

We do have more choices but most are lousy. Kind of like 100 tv channels, 95 of them worthless.

Wow, you have 5 channels that acutally have worthwhile programming? Incredible!

I agree with the fact that choices are increasing, but they are not all worthless. Every week I go to my local supermarket (we are in a place where there is no whole foods or trader joes). This week I bought three new products that appeared on the shelves, free range, fresh whole chicken, vegetable fed pork tenderloin (no "injections"), and nest laid eggs. Woo hoo!! I'm so encouraged. I buy the stuff, compliment the butcher and keep my fingers crossed that others do too so that these things stay in the case and others keep coming. It never occurred to me that I might have Wal-Mart to thank for that. I avoid Wal-Mart, not on moral grounds, but on personal preference. I just find that store jangles my nerves. Too much going on at once. Maybe I'm getting old.

What's wrong with peanut butter and mustard? What else is a guy supposed to do when we are out of jelly?

-Dad

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...Neither does the use of underpaid workers.  There are perhaps arguments to be made against these things - but they are political - not a question of public health

I am pulling on one string in this sweater.

I agree that this is a political issue, but it seems to me that at some point employee wages could result in a public health issue.

Am I reaching too far on this?

I think so - but try to "connect the dots" for me. Robyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i don't eat chicken as much as beef because it's not one of my preferred foods.

as for the various political and public health issues, they aren't particularly tangled, to me. you're trying to find a logic to argue against, but i'm not arguing. I's just giving you my various reasons for making the choices i make.

primarily it's a health concern for me - the concern being antibiotics and hormones used in "making" meat today.

why are these hormones and antibiotics used? the hormones are used to obviously make more of the product in question, whether it be meat or a meat byproduct. However, I believe you are what you eat - and i really could do without the extra rBGH among others. why are the antibiotics put into feed? because animals are forced to essentially sit in their own sh*t, in overcrowded conditions, or to keep disease at bay from constant milking. So herein comes what you see as a political issue. don't overcrowd animals, no need for antibiotics, ergo no antibiotics in the meat i eat.

now on to listeria, e coli, etc. yes all animals contain them. in their gut. i'm not concerned about me catching it - i'm well aware of proper food-handling. the reason it concerns me is because of the assembly line nature of meat-packing plants today. A bunch of under-trained mostly illegals are the people doing the processing. They are also underpaid (since they are undertrained illegals). There is one person to put the hammer to a cows head, another to sever the neck, another to drain the blood, and countless others wielding knives of one sort or the other. These people work in cramped conditions, and are forced into as high productivity as can be acheived. This leads to rushed, sloppy work which leads to cross-contamination - if you're not fully skilled and don't know what your doing it's quite easy to infect meat for eating, with gut juices while butchering. not to mention the chances of chopping various bodyparts off.

so now you've got some infected meat on your line - if it's the scraps it goes into a giant meat grinder thing that basically takes all the extra cow trimmings and grinds it all together - and this is why chances of listeria are higher with ground beef than with steak.

again - like i said my problem isn't that i will specifically get food poisoning - this may be a travesty to some, but i prefer all my meat fully cooked through. in any case, my concern is with the increased disease vector, as i said before - that comes with shipping this contaminated meat all over the country. now rather than having a cluster of 10 or 12 people who've gotten sick at a picnic because of improperly handled potato salad - you've now got the possibiltiy of hundreds getting sick and or dying in several different states from the same lot of meat. One can educate on proper food handling, but i have to say, all these precautions wouldn't be as necessary if the meat wasn't handled poorly from the get-go.

i hope this clarifies for you the political/public health reasons I have for the choices i've made.

It's your nickel - and your life. Whatever your personal choices are - they're ok by me.

I am not an expert on antibiotics or hormones - so I'll leave any experts here to comment on those. But I do know that the last time I went to a dairy farm - the cows certainly weren't sitting in their own shit. They had a new fangled thing - it was kind of like a "conveyor belt toilet". The cows stood up and roamed in kind of a semi-circle - and the cow shit wound up on this conveyor belt and was transported out of the barn on the conveyor belt.

Now I am not much of a "farm girl" - but the barn looked sanitary to me. As for your other points - all I can say is you sound like less of a "farm girl" than I am. I also think you will come in for abuse here for liking your beef well done <smile>. Robyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now I am not much of a "farm girl" - but the barn looked sanitary to me. As for your other points - all I can say is you sound like less of a "farm girl" than I am. I also think you will come in for abuse here for liking your beef well done <smile>. Robyn

uhh, thanks. hope you feel better now. :smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...Neither does the use of underpaid workers.  There are perhaps arguments to be made against these things - but they are political - not a question of public health

I am pulling on one string in this sweater.

I agree that this is a political issue, but it seems to me that at some point employee wages could result in a public health issue.

Am I reaching too far on this?

I think so - but try to "connect the dots" for me. Robyn

Okay, here's what I am currently thinking, it's early-ish so bear with me.

Whether it's the food industry or any other, most employees are paid. The extreme low end of the pay scale tends to find people that a lot of times are, in my opinion, just trying to get by. No more, no less.

So, a person working in a meat packing plant, for example, drops their knife on the floor. They pick it up, wipe it off on their dirty smock, and continue. The same thing happens at a unionized butcher shop. The butcher, who is paid more, cleans the knife before continuing. This is something that could contribute to a breakdown in the health chain.

Does this connect any of the dots? Or am I still too fuzzy?

Sidebar- I have read this entire read and was surprised how quickly it exploded. One thing that stuck out was the Walmart wage debate. Without trying to stray to far from the food issue, why is it entirely Walmarts fault? Yes, they farm out jobs to third world countries that pay crap wages. These employees in turn make, sometimes, crap merchandise. We buy this stuff.

At what point does the manufaucturing company have a responsibility to pay decent wages to their employees?

And again I apologize for veering off track.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i think it's definitely the manufacturing company's job to ensure their workers are paid decent wages - however at the same time, i think the onus is on the buyer to not support those vendors who don't.

if there isn't demand - there wouldn't be a market. as many other's have said in response to the other topics in the thread - if you required something in particular - companies will find a way to get your business.

oh and your logic on differences between cheap labor and unionized labor are spot on, imo. mainly because in my experience, union shops, no matter what industry, seem to have very strict and clearly defined SOPs.

Edited by tryska (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

...Neither does the use of underpaid workers.  There are perhaps arguments to be made against these things - but they are political - not a question of public health

I am pulling on one string in this sweater.

I agree that this is a political issue, but it seems to me that at some point employee wages could result in a public health issue.

Am I reaching too far on this?

I think so - but try to "connect the dots" for me. Robyn

Okay, here's what I am currently thinking, it's early-ish so bear with me.

Whether it's the food industry or any other, most employees are paid. The extreme low end of the pay scale tends to find people that a lot of times are, in my opinion, just trying to get by. No more, no less.

So, a person working in a meat packing plant, for example, drops their knife on the floor. They pick it up, wipe it off on their dirty smock, and continue. The same thing happens at a unionized butcher shop. The butcher, who is paid more, cleans the knife before continuing. This is something that could contribute to a breakdown in the health chain.

I'm not sure I'd argue that the wage or the union has as much to do with your point as the general operating procedures of low-wage processors. A company that's putting low-wage workers on the line is probably doing a dozen other things that contribute to unhygenic conditions: running the line to fast, neglecting cleaning and sterilization, ignoring "minor" violations that compound or accumulate, etc. Low wages are more of a symptom than a cause, I think.

Re: sidebar. I think that manufacturers have an obligation to allow their employees to negotiate a decent wage. Laws that favor employers over union organizers in the U.S., and the systematic exploitation of poor, ignorant and beaten-down peasants (plus the occasional corruption or arrest of union organizers) abroad are the major source of low-wage and low-benefit labor.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure I'd argue that the wage or the union has as much to do with your point as the general operating procedures of low-wage processors. A company that's putting low-wage workers on the line is probably doing a dozen other things that contribute to unhygenic conditions: running the line to fast, neglecting cleaning and sterilization, ignoring "minor" violations that compound or accumulate, etc. Low wages are more of a symptom than a cause, I think.

It's a coincidental, not a necessary connection. The issue is more about standards and care for those standards. Right now, the consumer is more concerned about the price of their beef than the cleanliness -- at least as a whole. If it started to be the case that everyone knew someone who had gotten violently ill from beef, that might change. But it's still rather rare. Traffic accidents are a huge problem, by comparison, and you don't see us switching to the monorail (what's that you say? monorail!)

It's about balance and the market has decided that it's not enough of an issue to require raising the price of beef. You could think about it like airport security prior to 9-11. If we have a major, or several medium-level outbreaks of e coli that really pisses people off, or just scares them, then I'm sure the market would demand stricter regulations. Outbreaks in the past have caused companies, eg, Jack in the Box, to strictly enforce quality on their suppliers.

I don't see much difference in quality, escept maybe in meats and fish sold, between a Wal-Mart and the higher-priced Safeway or a Winco and the higher-priced Albertson's. And I think CostCo shows that you can be cheap and sell good stuff.

I think that manufacturers have an obligation to allow their employees to negotiate a decent wage. Laws that favor employers over union organizers in the U.S., and the systematic exploitation of poor, ignorant and beaten-down peasants (plus the occasional corruption or arrest of union organizers) abroad are the major source of low-wage and low-benefit labor.

I agree with you here. But as a libertarian, I neither like laws favoring unions (such as not allowing employers to hire scabs or fire union workers) or companies (eg, requiring cooling off periods, laws not allowing unions to contract with employers to be union-only, etc). I'm all for sticking Wal-Mart's or Safeway's feet to the fire when they break the law, but if they're just tough business people, that's fine.

But I disagree strongly, very strongly, that we as first-worlders or companies should be ashamed of the wages they pay in 3rd world countries or in exporting jobs. a) because their wages don't match our wages for equal work doesn't mean that the wages aren't good for them, b) service oriented jobs, such as financial and technical services, have been growing in the US much faster than manufacturing jobs have been shrinking; I'd much rather our country be working in offices than working in factories, c) why are so often the same people who lament greedy Americanism so worried about spreading the wealth, if that's what it is, anyway? d) the issue is still standards; it's not enough to assume that because Mexicans or Malaysians aren't on average as educated as Americans that they will make a poorer product, grow less healthy crops, or whatever; they still have the same brains and they can be taught what they need to be; what's necessary is standards from distributors and customers in the US.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...