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Corporate America - Can it be stopped?


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people's priorities are a bit screwed up in general (especially post-sexual revolution)

. . .

there's a reason there are more depressed people in the US now then i think there ever has been.

You mean if we were having more sex (with more partners?) that we wouldn't be so depressed?

Sounds like Wilhelm Reich.

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and one other question i have for you i guess heather - and all of those positing that sams club/walmart meat is what you can afford buying in bulk.

when you think about the actual quality of the meat that you buy, where it came from, the hormones and antibiotics used in it's "manufacturing" does it seem worth it to feed to your family to save a few extra bucks?

i'm not trying to sound combative - or stand on any sort of moral soapbox - i jsut have a tough time reconciling buying shady meat and dairy especially, as my health is the most important thing to me. and to me the way most mass-produced "affordable" meats, dairy and poultry are made, it's polluted, and not something i will eat, or feed to my family.

especially when you consider the links between factory made milk and ear infections in kids, the lowered nutrition, the chances of food poisoning from listeria infected meat....

to me buying quality product is a health decision, not any sort of snob factor thing.

Edited by tryska (log)
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people's priorities are a bit screwed up in general (especially post-sexual revolution)

. . .

there's a reason there are more depressed people in the US now then i think there ever has been.

You mean if we were having more sex (with more partners?) that we wouldn't be so depressed?

Sounds like Wilhelm Reich.

*lol* no -actually i was tying the sexual revolution to the "Me Generation"...with...well never mind....it's a lot of typing to connect the dots.

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Defining oneself by what one buys is defining oneself by what one buys, whether one is buying organic free-range foodstuffs or super-high-end stereo equipment.

(Anyway too there is not a lot, as in hardly any, separation between these two consumer groups.)

It's the defining oneself by what one BUYS that is the thing. And it's the same, no matter the purchased item in question. BUYING a SELF.

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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Defining oneself by what one buys is defining oneself by what one buys, whether one is buying organic free-range foodstuffs or super-high-end stereo equipment.

(Anyway too there is not a lot, as in hardly any, separation between these two consumer groups.)

It's the defining oneself by what one BUYS that is the thing. And it's the same, no matter the purchased item in question. BUYING a SELF.

Priscilla, you've just raised the discourse quite a few notches.

Thank you.

I hope the ball doesn't get dropped or handed off to a Jerry Springer-like running back.

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when you think about the actual quality of the meat that you buy, where it came from, the hormones and antibiotics used in it's "manufacturing" does it seem worth it to feed to your family to save a few extra bucks?

Actually, I have never set foot in a Walmart.

What am I supposed to say? It's worth it to feed my children shady food so that I can spend more time with them, instead of feeding them organic food and letting someone else raise them? How's that for offending the maximum number of people?

And it's more than a "few extra bucks." If I didn't have to fix our dinner (from inferior produce) I could probably come up with a ballpark figure.

Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Defining oneself by what one buys is defining oneself by what one buys, whether one is buying organic free-range foodstuffs or super-high-end stereo equipment.

(Anyway too there is not a lot, as in hardly any, separation between these two consumer groups.)

It's the defining oneself by what one BUYS that is the thing. And it's the same, no matter the purchased item in question. BUYING a SELF.

I sure hope not. This would make for a very sad commentary on life.

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

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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)

Edited by tryska (log)
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Defining oneself by what one buys is defining oneself by what one buys, whether one is buying organic free-range foodstuffs or super-high-end stereo equipment.

(Anyway too there is not a lot, as in hardly any, separation between these two consumer groups.)

It's the defining oneself by what one BUYS that is the thing.  And it's the same, no matter the purchased item in question.  BUYING a SELF.

I sure hope not. This would make for a very sad commentary on life.

i see people like that every day tho. that define themselves by what car they drive, or what clothes they wear. the label concious.

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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)

Okay, this is totally off topic, but that was jwagnerdsm, and he suddenly stopped blogging on December 3. I'm starting to worry because he hasn't posted since then. Was there severe weather in Iowa?

Squeat

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In terms of the example that's getting so much play: 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; and the semolina bread baked on premises at that Costco tastes better to me than the bread from any of the bakeries on Arthur Avenue (the Italian neighborhood in the Bronx), where I think the bread mostly sucks. Costco is, as far as I'm concerned, an example of everything corporate America is doing right: the meat department is awesome, there are numerous "gourmet" items priced incredibly well, and most importantly Costco succeeds at narrowing the false gap between "gourmet" food and "regular" food.

As I mentioned early on in the thread, Corporate America is here to stay. People are going to do their shopping at mega-supermarkets. The small family store may survive in certain neighborhoods -- like in Manhattan, or in some small towns -- but it's not going to survive in the typical suburban American configuration. So bemoaning its loss is mostly a waste of time. Instead, the focus should be on getting the mega-chains to offer product at that level of quality. And the best chains, like Wegmans and Costco, are answering that call, providing the quality of the family store with the choice of the mega-market; the best of all possible combinations for the greatest number of people.

Now, of course, those who demand choice need to take advantage of that choice. It's unreasonable to lecture the local A&P on the need to stock fresh mozzarella if no A&P customer is going to buy it. At the same time, the more customers who are willing to buy the fresh mozzarella, the better the price can potentially be. Guess what? At my local supermarket, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where the demand for fresh mozzarella vastly outstrips the demand for Polly-O:

Fresh Mozzarella: $4.29 per pound

Polly-O Part-Skim Mozzarella: $4.49 per pound

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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and that's exactly what i'm getting at FG, altho i think i upset heather in the process.

and it's not so much getting Big Business to go away and stop being Big Business - just make Big Business do what you want it to do by exercising your power as a consumer.

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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?

Well, let's take milk. We go through about 3 gallons a week. Regular grocery store milk is about $2.50 per gallon, so our monthly cost would be $30 a month.

Horizon organic milk at my local grocery is $3.50 per half gallon, or $7.00 per gallon, for a monthly cost of $84.00.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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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)

Okay, this is totally off topic, but that was jwagnerdsm, and he suddenly stopped blogging on December 3. I'm starting to worry because he hasn't posted since then. Was there severe weather in Iowa?

Squeat

Maybe he went broke buying fabulous groceries and could not pay his internet bill :laugh:

It's all about personal choice :wink:

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

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

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damn...really?

it's $2.39 for the organic valley brand at my local publix. I still wouldn't buy regular milk tho - i'd just come up with a workaround. but that's just me and my factory farming hangup.

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wait you get it at whole foods?

that might be part of the problem - whole foods down here (Atlanta) is insanely expensive, compared to the store they ate (Harry's Farmers Market). Now if i go to the Harry's it's actually cheaper than if i go to the whole foods. But for dairy, i actually just go to publix - they have the organic brands, but like i siad, for 2.39 per half gallon. It still doesn't beat 2.50 per gallon tho.

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It's easy to take shots at Wal-Mart shoppers, but it can start to look pretty shallow when phrases like "And yes, I consider them to be lazy if they make the decision to buy everything at Costco recognizing that they are not buying as high a quality product as they could because they don't want to make an extra trip to a store," start getting tossed around.

Oh, I hope I did that quote right...i've lost the poster...sorry sorry

This isn't exactly about food, but it is about groceries. WalMart grocery stores are "forcing" other grocery stores to reduce employee benefits, and so regardless of the consumer, let's think about the workers. I think it's important to realize that WalMart shoppers are, very often, WalMart employees. And that WalMart employees make minimum wage, often, which often isn't enough to feed their families. And so, if this isn't too off-topic, I would like to say that

a) It's fair to take big chain stores to task...even if they are offering ok-to-good selection, can their own employees afford to shop there? Can they afford to shop anywhere BUT there? And, if not, shouldn't we be ashamed to patronize them?

b) The way to get people to buy good produce and cook meals from scratch is to give them enough time and money to do so. WalMart is currently the top employer in 35 states (from the nytimes, i can dig it up if you like). So 35 states of people are going to be buying convenience food for a long, long time until those of us with the luxury to do so start taking these companies to task.

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wait you get it at whole foods?

that might be part of the problem - whole foods down here (Atlanta) is insanely expensive, compared to the store they ate (Harry's Farmers Market). Now if i go to the Harry's it's actually cheaper than if i go to the whole foods. But for dairy, i actually just go to publix - they have the organic brands, but like i siad, for 2.39 per half gallon. It still doesn't beat 2.50 per gallon tho.

No, I usually shop at Giant Food, a local chain owned by some giant international conglomerate. Whole Foods costs considerably more.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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It's easy to take shots at Wal-Mart shoppers, but it can start to look pretty shallow when phrases like "And yes, I consider them to be lazy if they make the decision to buy everything at Costco recognizing that they are not buying as high a quality product as they could because they don't want to make an extra trip to a store," start getting tossed around.

Oh, I hope I did that quote right...i've lost the poster...sorry sorry

This isn't exactly about food, but it is about groceries. WalMart grocery stores are "forcing" other grocery stores to reduce employee benefits, and so regardless of the consumer, let's think about the workers. I think it's important to realize that WalMart shoppers are, very often, WalMart employees. And that WalMart employees make minimum wage, often, which often isn't enough to feed their families. And so, if this isn't too off-topic, I would like to say that

a) It's fair to take big chain stores to task...even if they are offering ok-to-good selection, can their own employees afford to shop there? Can they afford to shop anywhere BUT there? And, if not, shouldn't we be ashamed to patronize them?

b) The way to get people to buy good produce and cook meals from scratch is to give them enough time and money to do so. WalMart is currently the top employer in 35 states (from the nytimes, i can dig it up if you like). So 35 states of people are going to be buying convenience food for a long, long time until those of us with the luxury to do so start taking these companies to task.

Your points are well taken, but are on a bit of a tangent -- the point I was addressing was whether moderate-income shoppers should be forced to give up disposable income to mee someone else's ideal of gustatory sophistication -- I felt that the poster to whom I was responding was being, at best, glib, regarding the situation many people face. hjshorter is now carrying this ball more effectively than I ever could.

Regarding the crushing of the American working class through scab-only work rules, I'm with you. Heard a report on the radio the other night about a textile worker in NC who had to shop at Wal-Mart because her wages were so low. Wal-mart sold so many cheap imported garments that the textile mill shut down.

It's a pretty vivious cycle, but a complicated one. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to feed and clothe a family while buying high-priced local produce and without patronizing Wal-Mart need to think before we start telling the less wealthy where they should and should not shop.

Here in DC, Safeway and Giant may be multi-national conglomerates, but they are union shops and take care of their workes. The much more earthy-crunchy Whole Foods is very much a non-union shop.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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A few things to catch myself up on this thread:

1) Thank goodness someone said this:

The rise of discount retailers offering cheap food to those who want it seems to have coincided with the resurgence of farmers' markets selling heirloom and organic ingredients, the unprecedented availability of imported cheeses, meats and other delicacies, and a burgeoning restaurant scene.

It's one of things I kept thinking reading over the last few pages of new posts. Whenever an industry supplants another, such as the rise of the mega stores, there is a time in a capitalistic society where competitors must reposition themselves and re-emerge. The '80s and '90s are probably the decades most of you should be complaining about. We've been seeing a re-emergence of fine foods -- the popularity of the food network, the new celebrity chefs, Sur La Table, Whole Foods, the farmer's market, and so on.

I don't think FG is right to say we should give up on these small businesses. I think we should just expect them to reposition themselves in the marketplace, to focus more, and provide services that are more difficult for the megastores to give. That said, the megastores will try to compete if they can. Safeway and Kroger have started offering real parmeggiano-reggiano in the last couple years, eg. They've started house brands of upscale breads, pasta sauces, salsas, and the like. That's what's great about capitalism, these companies push each other.

Personally, I think that there's been an increase in quality at the restaurant chains over the years, too. Places like Applebees and Olive Garden are offering better and more interesting food and more nutritional choices.

2) What is it that most of you find to be moral/immoral food choices? There's some confusion here. Is it nutrition-based, flavor-based, environmental-based, or what? So many of you talk of evil this and evil that, but without much clarity, it seems, as to what makes that thing bad.

3) Why do so many see their preferences as Good and others' preferences as Bad? Is it any more important that I buy my pants from a boutique that makes their own clothes than I buy my apples from the orchard? I buy my pants from Target and they are clearly lower quality than the pants I could get from other stores. Am I an idiot for not spending even $10 more to buy better pants, that maybe even look a little nicer from another store? Is the person who buys supermarket mozzarella any more of an idiot for not spending the extra on fresh? The extra quality of my pants just isn't that important to me, not even one penny more important. I don't think it's a matter of education for most people. I just think they aren't people for whom one penny more would be worth buying that "finer" mozzarella.

Brillat-Savarin talks about the taste-deaf, comparing them to the tone-deaf, deaf, and blind. But I don't even think that's the case. I think many people can tell the difference, but they just don't care and don't want to care. As tommy says, he doesn't want to watch football no matter how easy or cheap it is.

4) A lot of that TV watching, remember, is after people eat. People often want to eat as soon as possible after they get home, at least by 7 pm. Then they get 3 hours of TV in and just want to relax. If makin a meal means getting home at 6, getting the meal on the table by 8, having everything finished and cleaned by 9:30p and then getting to bed at 10, that's not a choice they're willing to make. It's not just a matter of choosing TV or home-cooked meals. A lot of these people do still make Sunday dinners when they have lots of extra time.

When I was a kid, we often ate dinner at 9pm because we were poor enough that we had to cook our meals. There's a lot less involved in getting pizza and for most people, I think they actually like Pizza Hut better than whatever they'd make. Plus, I don't think what people generaly make at home is any more nutritious than what they're buying out. They're making tacos, hamburgers, cheesy pasta, and the like anyway.

Edited by ExtraMSG (log)
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<<I am sorry for those of you that seem to equate food at home with tasteless glop.>>

Some people are good cooks - some aren't. Just because someone was a "stay at home" Mom in the 50's didn't make her a good cook (some like yours were - some like ours weren't). My husband and I never cooked hardly at all before we retired. I did try a little when we first got married - but trying to put dinner on the table after working 8-9-10 hours a day while my husband watched TV wasn't my idea of a good time. So - rather than nag him - I stopped - and learned how to make reservations. We do cook at home more now that we have the time.

<<Robyn, on one thing here-yard chickens are an amazing taste treat. Real chickens fed real grain and allowed to grow and develop naturally just beat the hell out of industrial chickens. I do miss them and it is not nostalgia, I still get one occasionally when I go visit relatives and they are night and day better than their caged neighbors.>>

I don't have relatives who raise chickens :smile:. But I kind of know what you mean. I've had Bresse chicken in France - and it doesn't even taste like it's the same animal I eat at home.

<<This,in fact, is the crux of this whole discussion. How to get the average person out of the fast food lane and into the checkout lane at the supermarket. The next step is to teach these people that there is more out there than canned peas and carrots, but that is reaching. The real issue is that we have a country that is turning into a country of fat people because they either don't know enough, or care enough, to cook healthy meals at home. Clearly education is probably part of the answer, although I don't know what kind-perhaps if public service ads would work to teach people how much money they could save by not eating garbage (both on food costs and health care) that might help.

This argument seems to continually be digressing into Wal Mart and big discount chains when in fact the big corporations that need to change the way that they do business are fast food chains and McAppleback's.>>

I'm not sure what the cause of the "fat" problem is - but - like most big deal issues - I'm sure it's not a single simple cause. Obviously - most people don't get as much exercise as they should. When I was growing up - PE was required not only through high school - it was required in college! And they eat things that are very dense in calories compared to the volume of the food (like all foods from the salty snack aisle of the supermarket - or the infamous salad from McDonald's that had about 1000 calories because the dressing portion was supersized). (Note that I don't mind eating things that aren't lo-cal as long as they fill me up). Also - and this may sound peculiar - I think people tend to eat more of things when they're almost tasteless except for the taste of grease and salt. Perhaps they figure if they keep eating - it will get better. I'm sure other people can add numerous other reasons - but I agree it's a big problem. Robyn

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I'm enjoying this discussion, which has caused me to think about a number of issues from new perspectives. Thanks to everyone for keeping it level-headed and food-oriented.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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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)

Yes, I think it all comes down to choice.

And variety.

I also try to buy organic meat and veggies as often as I can, and don't serve meat every night, so might have omelettes or veggie pasta as an alternative. My son doesn't drink cows milk, so I buy rice milk (about $1.89 per qt.) or fresh squeezed OJ fortified with calcium, and those cost a lot, so I'll buy less of something else. It's all about balance.

A great pizza can be made for very little cost, or bean burritos, rather than meat every night, so I can still get my reggiano and smoked oysters!

We also belong to an organic farm share out, and during the winter get a good supply of veggies once a month, but there have been late nights I've spent peeling and chopping rutabagas, or apples, or pears, to freeze (before they spoil)so I can cook them on the weekend.

I'd rather do that than waste them, but I like doing it.

But again, it's all about choice.

JANE

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