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NYT Articles on Food, Drink, Cooking, and Culinary Culture (2002–2005)


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My, what a touchy nerve Julie has hit.

When do we get back to disussions about presoaking our beans before cooking instead of using canned? Or whether the French noblesse really did throw their offal out the window for the downtrodden to disguise in sauces? Or even if anyone is interested any more in Beard's "Art of American Cookery"?

Are we taking ourselves far to seriously about $4 designer loafs while ignoring the Wonderbread of life.?

Are the Alice Waters graduates of vegtable growning now eating heirloom produce or back at the school vending machines?

dave

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Hmmm... What Powell said has a certain ring of truth in it, I think... if from nothing other than a marketing perspective.

Look at the situation as a marketing problem:

1. Supermarket produce is pretty, but pretty bland and lacking in character. It costs what it costs.

2. Organic produce is less pretty, but sometimes better flavored, and certainly has character. It costs more than the pretty supermarket produce.

How do you sell people on the idea that they should buy the less pretty more expensive organic produce? You can't give everybody a taste to show them the difference.

You can tell them that organic produce is grown in a way that is better for the world, that doesn't pollute and doesn't support the giant chemical companies that make all the fertilizer and pesticide that are used on the pretty supermarket produce. You can tell them that all that pesticide left a residue on the pretty supermarket produce... then you can ask them if they want to feed their children pesticide residue, and whether they want to support pollution and giant chemical businesses.

There is a ring of overbearing moral superiority in there, don't you think? While those are not the only selling points for organic produce, they undeniably are points that have been used to sell it. I think that is what Powell is on about.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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My, what a touchy nerve Julie has hit.

  When do we get back to  disussions about  presoaking our beans before cooking instead of using canned? Or whether the French noblesse really did throw their offal out  the window for the downtrodden to  disguise in sauces? Or even if anyone is interested any more  in Beard's "Art of American Cookery"?

  Are we taking  ourselves far to seriously about  $4 designer loafs  while ignoring the Wonderbread of life.?

. . . .

Julie said ") Classic French sauces were conceived to ennoble less-than-prime beef." That's not particularly related to disguising offal in sauces. There's prime filet mignon and there's prime sweetbreads, kidney and liver. Wonderbread is a relatively new bread in the history of man's bread. Perhaps the reality is that we took the development of white flour and the discovery of sliced bread too seriously and are currently making the necessary corrections. Taking food seriously is not a crime, but I'm prepared to ignore wonderbread at this point in time. You need not do the same.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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It sounds as if there are several major points of contention going on with "what the article states". Which is good in one way, for it has certainly sparked debate which brings forth ideas that may have been sitting in the back of people's heads that other people can learn from. . .but difficult in that the whole thing is not a debate about one clear-cut thing.

If I were Julie, I might feel good about the debate. . .and also good (as someone has mentioned) that my piece was published in such a noticeable place. I might also feel that ultimately, (based on the reader's reactions) that the piece might have been written with either a better eye to the researching of stated facts or with more clarity of intended meaning. I feel sort of badly for her, for it seems she has put out there, in the written word in public, something that is quite easily attacked in a variety of ways. But then again, she is a professional and professionals have to take their lumps and learn from it in a very direct way.

Could it have been that this piece was edited to fit the space and time constraints therefore losing parts that would have made it read for better acceptance? I wonder.

My own small contribution to the discussion is that here, where I live there are no Whole Foods stores or Food Emporiums within an hour's drive. And one does need to have a car to get to them.

And where I live, is one of the most populated areas around in many directions. Small town rural America reigns here, and where they shop is Wal-Mart if they are lucky (yes, they do for the most part consider themselves lucky when a Wal-Mart comes in) enough to have one close enough. . .or in small older town grocery stores where the lighting is usually dingy and the floors battered, as is the produce.

The economies of such places do not allow most people to even consider whether their budget would include "organic" produce from the grocery store, no matter how hard they pushed the numbers around. If they want it, they grow it.

There's a large population to whom this discussion of Whole Foods is simply moot.

(Not sure how this fits into the overall subject, but just wanted to again bring up this point. . .)

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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There's a large population to whom this discussion of Whole Foods is simply moot.

(

Not to mention how many out there who have never even heard of Whole Foods. They tend to not open stores in places like DeFuniak Springs, Fl or Pawhuska, Ok.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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[...]And at the Whole Foods I go to, the meat is the same price, or just slightly more, than the stuff they shrink-wrap at the local Food Emporium.[...]

That screams "very expensive and overpriced" to me. Perhaps Food Emporium is economical in Westchester County, but I doubt it. I have always avoided Food Emporium.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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The economies of such places do not allow most people to even consider whether their budget would include "organic" produce from the grocery store, no matter how hard they pushed the numbers around. If they want it, they grow it.

Unfortunately, growing it is not an option for most city dwellers. Hence, Whole Foods and farmer's markets. :smile:

Food Emporium, by the way, is ridiculously expensive and, at least judging by the one up the block from where I live, has possibly the worst produce I have ever tasted. When I lived in Astoria and shopped at what Julie deems in her article "low end" Key Food, I remember that their produce was way better, not to mention cheaper.

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[...]And at the Whole Foods I go to, the meat is the same price, or just slightly more, than the stuff they shrink-wrap at the local Food Emporium.[...]

That screams "very expensive and overpriced" to me. Perhaps Food Emporium is economical in Westchester County, but I doubt it. I have always avoided Food Emporium.

There's one a few miles north of here that is very good. But A&P, Key Food and Gristede's prices are the same, and the only thing less expensive than that is the local Stop & Shop.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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  Are we taking  ourselves far to seriously about  $4 designer loafs  while ignoring the Wonderbread of life.? 

We used to make golf-ball sized spheres by taking entire loaves of Wonderbread and smooshing them up. Urk. My Italian grandfather, who was about as far from the uppity stuff as you can imagine, could not stand the stuff. It stuck to the roof of his mouth. I still smile at the memory... and the man grew a mean, but gorgeous, tomato and sold them at a roadside stand.

Hey -- if someone can afford it, knows better, and still and chooses to eat Wonderbread along with a hearty meal of poor quality, filler-laden meatloaf and frozen succotash, that's their choice. Bon appetit.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Unfortunately, growing it is not an option for most city dwellers. Hence, Whole Foods and farmer's markets. :smile:

Yes, you are right. . .the City That Never Sleeps does not have much soil left uncovered for folks to dig into and grow things in.

The one year that I grew a small garden on my "balcony" (heh heh fancy word for a fire escape with a french door opening to it!) in Brooklyn Heights, it got destroyed when trampled by the cat-burglar crack addict that flew up the back of the building and into the apartment to grab my purse which was sitting on the nearby table then fly back out with it.

Maybe he needed money for organic veggies.

But the city grows many other wonderful things. . .ideas, architecture, businesses, and art in all its forms. So who can fault it for lack of open soil. Not me. . .though Whole Foods and Food Emporium do tend to make me somewhat cranky. :biggrin:

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Hmmm...  What Powell said has a certain ring of truth in it, I think... if from nothing other than a marketing perspective. 

You can tell them that organic produce is grown in a way that is better for the world, that doesn't pollute and doesn't support the giant chemical companies that make all the fertilizer and pesticide that are used on the pretty supermarket produce.  You can tell them that all that pesticide left a residue on the pretty supermarket produce... then you can ask them if they want to feed their children pesticide residue, and whether they want to support pollution and giant chemical businesses. 

There is a ring of overbearing moral superiority in there, don't you think? While those are not the only selling points for organic produce, they undeniably are points that have been used to sell it.  I think that is what Powell is on about.

Thank you for pointing this out, Chris. When I read this piece, it was clear to me that she was speaking of the manipulation and political correctness being used to sell organic produce. Rather than making informed choices, it is often easier for consumers to succumb to guilt and propaganda, and in this case, it's working.

When I choose my food, I base it on taste -- not saving the earth, the whales, or the trees. If the tasty stuff happens to be organic, so be it; but I've had some abominably unpalatable organic fruits and vegetables.

Jennifer L. Iannolo

Founder, Editor-in-Chief

The Gilded Fork

Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Home of the Culinary Podcast Network

Never trust a woman who doesn't like to eat. She is probably lousy in bed. (attributed to Federico Fellini)

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This is a forest for the trees thing.

The Times Op Ed piece should not be taken quite so literally. It expresses some valid and interesting points and can help put all this into better perspective.

Food for Thought if you will.

These topics do not fit neatly into little boxes. Fact is I try to select/buy food that is good tasting and reasonably priced. I sometimes buy "luxury" items-fleur de sel or good Tuscan olive oil sometimes I buy more generic items. Some is labeled organic some not.

I do not really care much about the "scene" or lack thereof in the stores and shops in which I do my shopping--I feel no need to "identify" with my fellow shoppers.

I would opt for a good tasting hothouse tomato over a vapid tasting heirloom a good tasting Purdue chicken over a tasteless free range one and vice verse.

I do resent anyone telling me there is no such thing as tasty Purdue chicken much as I resent someone telling me I am elitist for enjoying a free range version.

In the end--I just want good tasting food and I want to be able to pay what I think is a reasonable price for that food.

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This is a forest for the trees thing.

The Times Op Ed piece should not be taken quite so literally. It expresses some valid and interesting points and can help put all this into better perspective.

Food for Thought if you will.

These topics do not fit neatly into little boxes. Fact is I try to select/buy food that is good tasting and reasonably priced. I sometimes buy "luxury" items-fleur de sel or good Tuscan olive oil sometimes I buy more generic items. Some is labeled organic some not.

I do not really care much about the "scene" or lack thereof in the stores and shops in which I do my shopping--I feel no need to "identify" with my fellow shoppers.

I would opt for a good tasting hothouse tomato over a vapid tasting heirloom a good tasting Purdue chicken over a tasteless free range one and vice verse.

I do resent anyone telling me there is no such thing as tasty Purdue chicken much as I resent someone telling me I am elitist for enjoying a free range version.

In the end--I just want good tasting food and I want to be able to pay what I think is a reasonable price for that food.

If we don't take things people say or write literally, we run a greater risk of misinterpreting these people, or worse yet, putting words in their mouths. The piece does indeed say some valid things, but defuses those things by the way they're connected. There are people who buy organic the way others buy designer labels, or just plain brand names. Brand names may offer a certain sense of security in terms of quality and perhaps health and safety the way designer names bring a sense of security to fashion victims. There are people who buy organic out of a sense of duty or guilt. They're "doing their part to save the world" perhaps. There are shoppers who have a good understanding of the terms involved and those who are really clueless. There are people who buy "local" out of understandging and those who just buy from the Greenmarkets because it seems fashionable. So far, I've defined four separate, though likely overlapping, groups. I feel Julie blurs the distinctions, which in turn, hurts her ultimate arguments. I seem to agree with her conclusion, but not because she's argued it well, but becasue it's obvious to me. The problem with the article for me, is not that it's poorly written or that the arguments are poorly made, but that good movements and good people are unnecessarily tarred along the way.

No one will support the argument for good taste more than I will. I'll buy the better tasting tomato, although I'll need a sample to convince me. Nevertheless, I might buy the tomato with the inferior taste if I had reason to believe the superior tasting tomato was laced with poison, had been produced with slave labor, or that I was supporting any number of unethical operations by my purchase. I also might buy the inferior tomato if it was significantly less expensive assuming it too was free of poisons and not supporting unethical activities. A lot of things go through a persons head and it's unfair to stereotype any group, let alone to create a group for that purpose.

I've heard enough about some of the factory conditions in which some chickens are raised, slaughtered and packaged to scare me away from them just a little bit, but if you find a good tasting Purdue chicken, let me know, I might buy it. No one needs to tell me there's no such thing. The evidence I have suggests that's true, but I'm open to new evidence. Generally speaking, I've found little correlation between price and taste of chicken among the smaller brands either. I find that as each "organic" or "free range" brand gets larger and subcontracts the raising of their chickens, the quality becomes less consistent. In the end, my Greenmarket supplier is more dependable. Chickens are a good standard for discussion. There's a hell of a difference in price between the least expensive supermaket or discount meat market chicken and the more expensive free range birds, but very good chicken can still be a better buy in terms of taste and nutrition than poor quality beef. Naturally, if you're eating chicken as a splurge from beans, I'm not making an argument that's applicable. As for beef, I pay a lot more at Whole Foods than at other supermarkets and maybe more than at some butchers, but more often than not, I've really enjoyed the taste of the meat. How do you say something is over priced when it provides something its less expensive competitor doesn't?

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I am so relieved that someone has dared to tell the world that it it's all about image with me. But I don't care -- Early Girl tomatoes are this season's HOT accessory. Besides, I just read in Cosmo that guys like girls with values, or who at least talk about them. ("Talk Dirty to Him: Environmental Toxins, Soil Depletion, and Factory Farming") This op-ed was so right-on -- I mean, who would want to COOK when she could SHOP? They are so not connected. As if. Okay, so I saw Paris Hilton and Gordon Ramsay buying favas in Whole Foods -- tatsoi is SO last season -- literally -- and seeing them there totally inspired me to buy a bunch of red oak leaf lettuce and make a bonnet of it, like Marie Antoinette did. It looked fabulous -- very sustainable. As long as you spritz me every few hours. It's not like I'm going to eat it or anything. Ohmygod, did you hear? Rancho Gordo's co-branding with Hello! Kitty and I am SUPER JAZZED! I'm so glad somebody finally recognized that FASHION NOT FLAVOR is what keeps this girl going!

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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If you ask me, someone's publicist saw that someone's book was about to be published and wanted to create a little buzz. Why not write an Op-Ed? Hmmm...now, what could we write about? And what position from a foodie would be more likely to be published.

I think the piece is designed more to sell books, than to put forward any coherent argument.

(LOL - love your post, ingridsf)

Malcolm Jolley

Gremolata.com

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If you ask me, someone's publicist saw that someone's book was about to be published and wanted to create a little buzz. Why not write an Op-Ed? Hmmm...now, what could we write about? And what position from a foodie would be more likely to be published.

I think the piece is designed more to sell books, than to put forward any coherent argument.

(LOL - love your post, ingridsf)

Well put, and Ingrid, when I was 21 I thought the best place to pick up girls was the Museum of Modern Art, but after reading your post, I'd advise young men to head to Whole Foods and browse the organic zuchinni if he wants to meet the kind of women I was looking to meet. :shock:

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Well put, and Ingrid, when I was 21 I thought the best place to pick up girls was the Museum of Modern Art, but after reading your post, I'd advise young men to head to Whole Foods and browse the organic zuchinni if he wants to meet the kind of women I was looking to meet.  :shock:

The MOMA has great posters. I have a girlfriend who met a guy there, it’s still a good place to hook up. My pores look really small under their lights. But if you want to try a grocery store, just remember that your basket has to look fantastic. You will not get a hottie if your basket is spotty. And stay away from pencil-thin anything. Should you become disoriented in the bulk nuts aisle, simply ask yourself, “What would Bono do?”

The op-ed made a really great point about shopping. Poor people don’t shop. They buy. It’s totally different. Like Honduran families are different from professorial types.

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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Loved your post, Ingrid...and your signature line quote.

##

Now did you ever notice this about eGullet: the people whose writings are attacked most vociferously are usually the ones who are perceived as not having paid their dues? (Shades of an Amanda Hesser stone throwing.) Certainly, Julie's article would not have been printed had she not had a book coming out. I'm sure she would be the first to say that she's been very lucky.

I enjoyed this article for the humor, although it did not contain quite enough humor for the length of the piece. So maybe she didn't do all the research you might have done, or you might disagree with some points she makes, but seriously, who reads humor for the facts? Did Robert Benchley write "The Tooth, the Whole Tooth, etc." as an indictment of dentists?

And since when does anyone rely on newspaper articles for impeccable research? Perhaps newspapers used to take pride in their fact finding, but today most reporting is colored by opinions, sensationalism and "making" the news. I consider it a real bonus when I am amused.

On the other hand, I have never quite figured out whether I am amused or irritated by today's seasonal foods advocates. Having grown up on a mid-20th-century family farm, I literally ate seasonally for my first 18 years. No one applauded seasonality then, when the burgeoning food world was off in search of rich and complicated recipes and throwing yet another stick of butter in the pot.

Once upon a time heirloom vegetables and free range chickens and pork which actually had some fat in it were all you could get. Now that one has to seek them out and pay a premium price for them, seasonality is "in". Just as lobster and chicken reversed places in the "in" list when lobster became expensive and chicken cheap.

Julie is right about this: what's expensive and what's not readily available to the masses automatically rises to the top of the food desirability list.

P. S. Do pick out the ugly tomatoes, because they're usually the best tasting. The worst ones are all uniform, raised for looks, and tough skinned, raised for shipping.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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I'm always a little put off by the way we at eG respond to anyone who attacks our sacred (hormone-free) cows.

Ad hominem attacks, ("she wanted to see her name on the op-ed page of the Times more than she actually wanted to convey any serious ideas"); legalistic nit-picking ("Roasting as a preservation method"); assertions of dubious "facts" ('Sorry Julie, fresh local and seasonal ingredients are what classic French food has been all about " except of course, confit, pot au feu, brandad, dried sausages and a thousand other great French dishes) bizarre tagents (it depends what your definition of "privation" is) and so on.

It's a little too much like contemporary politics for my taste, especially in its assumption tat anyone who disagrees is ignorant, wrong-headed or has an ulterior motive.

I don't agree entirely with the article but I think it's about time that somebody pointed out that farmers markets and Whole Foods are, in fact, the preserve of the economic elite -- not because I have a problem with that but because I'm as worried about getting nutritious food to poor families as I am about getting fresh peaches to mine, and I don't think upscale foodism is doing that.

In addition, I don't see how anyone could walk through a Fresh Fields and not snicker at the smug, self -congratulatory tone of many of their ads and some of their shoppers. It gets icky in there, sometimes.

Paragraphs like this are true and need to be read and acknowledged by food people.

"What makes the snobbery of the organic movement more insidious is that it equates privilege not only with good taste, but also with good ethics. Eat wild Brazil nuts and save the rainforest. Buy more expensive organic fruit for your children and fight the national epidemic of childhood obesity. Support a local farmer and give economic power to responsible stewards of sustainable agriculture. There's nothing wrong with any of these choices, but they do require time and money. "

We need to look at problems in the world of food, nutrition and eating that occur beyond the perimeters of our class and our farmers markets -- and figure out how to support farmers, fight obesity and save the rainforrests at a price more people can afford -- and spend less energy taking cheap shots at people who bring unpleasant truths to our attention.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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[...]I would opt for a good tasting hothouse tomato over a vapid tasting heirloom a good tasting Purdue chicken over a tasteless free range one and vice verse.

I do resent anyone telling me there is no such thing as tasty Purdue chicken much as I resent someone telling me I am elitist for enjoying a free range version.[...]

I agree with Bux's opinion, which he voiced very diplomatically. I was going to make a much more definitive statement, along the lines of "Sorry, there is no such thing as a tasty Purdue chicken," but suffice it to say that if you can demonstrate that there's such a thing as a Purdue chicken that hasn't had cod liver oil added to its feed, I might consider the slim possibility that one could ever be tasty in comparison to a free-range organic chicken. I think the real story is that many people can't taste the cod liver oil in the factory chickens, and that's OK because there are doubtless a lot of tastes I can't perceive, too (soapy cilantro? huh?). I don't always taste the cod liver in factory-farmed chickens, either -- that depends on what part of the chicken I'm eating and how it's sauced, etc. -- but no way would I ever propose that there's a likelihood of a Purdue chicken being better than a "tasteless" (?!) free range one, unless that's a function of differences in how the birds were cooked.

We might take this discussion further and suggest that there are probably a lot of people who can't taste the difference between a poor-quality supermarket tomato and a really great tomato, etc., etc. And an additional cost is not worth it for a customer who doesn't notice the difference. Perception of differences in quality has a lot to do with perception of value. So keep getting the Purdue chicken, but consider being less resentful of people who taste differences that are not apparent to you. It's not that they're being snobs, but that their sense of taste is physically different from yours, and it seems to me that life is too short to spend resenting people for having a sharper or merely different sense of this and that. And in exchange, I won't go around calling people freaks for dismissing cilantro as "soapy." :raz: That's what it tastes like to them.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I resent anyone who thinks they are better than me (or anyone else) because they purport to posess better taste. (in fact many people certainly do--those are folks I learn from--I guess it's all about attitude).

Snobs--be they wine snobs or food snobs are snobs.

As for the chicken thing--

I have had some very good free range versions and I have had some tough flavorless versions.

As for those "supermarket" brands some people seem to look down upon--I have had some good and some not so good versions.

I would point out that David Rosengarten on his late lamented "Taste" program endorsed the use of a supermarket chicken vs free range etc for use in his roast chicken recipe--he clearly stated the (I believe it was a Purdue) "yellow" chicken was cheaper and had better flavor (for the recipe).

I agree with David and my experience confirms it.

You may feel otherwise--and have different experiences.

(ps--I love cilantro as well)

I would also point you in the direction of the recent comments re: Blue Hill at Stone Barns wherein there was some debate as to the "taste" or lack thereof of their chicken.

The whole point of the Times op ed was that there is a snob element to a lot of current thought about food--I agree.

There is also a lot of elitism--this is wrong as well.

It is one thing to be 'elite" it is quite another to be "elitist".

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I think it's about time that somebody pointed out that farmers markets and Whole Foods are, in fact, the preserve of the economic elite

Hi...

We have several Farmers' Markets in town. One of them is downtown and attached to a building I would describe as "Disneyland for Foodies", the others are in less scenic locations and serve quite a cross section of ethnic and class groups. Sometimes when I need my fix of chicken fat roasted potatoes or June Taylor Jams, I head downtown; but, most often I tend to go to the one closer to my house and fight over the best looking peas or fava beans with women or men from other ethnic groups. Aside from the downtown Farmers' Market, most of these other markets are no more the "preserve of the economic elite" than the shops in Chinatown or the Mission. For the most, part they are also cheaper than Safeway or any other grocery chain in town. In fact, at least here in San Francisco, I find even Whole Foods often has better prices on some items I buy frequently, than Safeway. Though, you do have to pay attention at Whole Foods, so you don't get soaked for the odd $1 a piece organic lemon.

I found the opinion piece to be thought provoking; but, after some consideration found myself disagreeing with most everything except the last couple paragraphs.

Shopping well is no more the purview of the rich than any other aspect of Home Economics. Sadly, I think almost nothing in American culture or education teaches young people to shop well (or manage their finances, for that matter).

Anyway, I was riding the bus the other night and as usual was looking at what people had in their Safeway bags. Usually it is the average mess of cereal, popsicles and the like. I noticed the man across from me had fresh mushrooms and basil. I really did feel like asking what he was going to make, or point out to him that he could have gotten either cheaper at the farmers' market. Of course I did not, because aside from cooking with fresh herbs, we had nothing in common.

-Erik

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Dang, I've tried so hard not to give a serious response to what I considered a not very serious piece about something serious. Seriously. Okay. So we've got some people who pay exorbitant prices for peaches and think this makes them better people than people who buy cheaper peaches.

In short: Superficial, pretentious, selfish twits purchase expensive foodstuffs.

But: These navel-gazing elitists have their correlates. The folks who are proud that they can't taste the difference between a garden-grown tomato and what's on a Sizzler salad-bar. Complain about the effects of Alice Waters all you want cause I'll come right back with Sandra Lee.

My point is -- and I do have one -- is that the op-ed merely points out differences between individuals. Which are nothing new. Food has always been a badge of status. Who doesn't know that? What I found sadly missing was any mention of how good cooks are discriminating shoppers -- no matter where they shop.

If the piece wanted to say something meaningful about economic disparity and its effect on human health, there was planty to explore about agribusiness and vertical integration. But, sigh, shooting yuppies in an artisan pickle barrel was so much more FUN.

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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I haven't had the chance to survey San Francisco's markets, so I won't go toe-to-toe with you on those.

But in DC, the cultural and economic division between the the Farmers Markets/Whole Foods crowd and the masses is pretty obvious. In my neighborhood at 10AM, Saturday, you can watch me and my fellow yuppies lined up for organic beets at the market, at the same time virtually every Latin/working class shopper in the 'hood is walking past it to the less expensive ethnic markets just down the street. It's not a result of anything evil or overt discrimination, it's just a fact of life: when you're poor or working class, you buy the $1.50 eggs, not the $3.00 eggs and $4 chicken, not the $12 chicken.

Stand at the exit of a Whole Foods and guess what percentage of the people leaving have a college education, versus the breakdown at the nearest Sam's Club or urban grocery store. I think it's denial to pretend that this is anything other than an upscale phenomenon at this point, in may places.

I am curious, though, how your markets provide such good values. Better economics out in California? A more evolved farmer community that can turn a profit at a lower price point? More volume/awareness/competition? Are they farmers-only or do people bring in wholesale food?

I think we're all on the same side -- in favor of getting the best food to the most people. I just don't think it's happening yet.

(I agree, by the way, that the whole shopping/cooking dichotomy was specious.)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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When you're working two jobs to stay above the poverty line, the furthest thing from your mind at the grocery store is which tomato or which chicken tastes better. You're sweatin' on getting enough food to the table with what little you have to spend.

To base a purchasing decision on taste, ethics or in support of a cause is the purview of the privileged class.

I think all Julie is saying is... those of you who are privileged, don't poo-poo the poor. Don't feel you're better than they are because they don't share your values. Sometimes, they just can't afford to.

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