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


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i think this thread is much more coherent (even though we disagree) than the original piece. and of course you can make the elitist argument about food shopping. but i think what needs to be pointed out is that with food shopping--even at a place like whole foods--the buy-in for an "elite" product is so much less than in any other field. ok, yeah, the peaches are $3 as opposed to $1.50. Well, sorry, that's $1.50 more to have a product that delivers value (this is assuming it does, which, of course, means careful shopping). I mean, come on, we're not talking Mercedes and Kias here. I can almost guarantee that almost any family at any income level could go to a farmers market and pick up ingredients they can afford for a good dinner. the qualifier is whether they believe that it something we would consider delicious is worth it to them to go to the effort. how can something be called elitist when anyone can afford it? caviar, certainly, but peaches?

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I can almost guarantee that almost any family at any income level could go to a farmers market and pick up ingredients they can afford for a good dinner. the qualifier is whether they believe that it something we would consider delicious is worth it to them to go to the effort. how can something be called elitist when anyone can afford it? caviar, certainly, but peaches?

How I wish I could agree with you on this.

But when I look at the prices for either meats or veggies at the Farmer's Markets I've been to, either in large cities or smaller. . .I can see the difference between these prices and the ones at the places that the "economically disadvantaged" tend to shop.

Many of the people that I have known that have not had too much money in their wallets have been immigrants, with large families, children (which are always expensive no matter what one's income level is! :biggrin:), debt from starting a new life, and very little money left over after the bills are paid. Many do not even have health insurance. Alternately, they come from low-income rural areas where life can still be quite hand-to-mouth for many.

It might be that they could and would like to take the effort to pick up the ingredients for a good dinner at the Farmer's Market, but that one dinner would at its price take the same money that would have fed them four dinners put together from food bought on sale at Wal-Mart. And they simply can not afford to do it.

I so wish I could be persuaded otherwise.

I do agree that "elitist" is a strong word that has an aura of sanctimoniousness. There might be a better word that could be used.

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It might be that they could and would like to take the effort to pick up the ingredients for a good dinner at the Farmer's Market, but that one dinner would at its price take the same money that would have fed them four dinners put together from food bought on sale at Wal-Mart. And they simply can not afford to do it.

i look at it from the opposite side. again, i live in a very mixed neighborhood (economically, ethnically, almost any way you choose to look at it), and i do the bulk of my shopping at the neighborhood supermarket where, by my guestimation, at least half the customers are on assistance. i see what they are buying and what i am buying and almost always they are spending more on food than i am.

this, of course, is their choice and different people have different priorities. that's what diversity really means. if they choose spend their shopping dollars on "prestigious" processed foods, that is their call. but at the same time, i resent being called elitist because i make different choices.

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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.)

For what it's worth, when I lived in Mt. Pleasant in DC, a predominantly Latino and working class neighborhood, 15 years ago, I shopped at its only grocery store, Bestway. I did in fact have a college degree but it was in philosophy, which is Latin for "love of bargain bins." Bestway had excellent quality/prices on certain stuff -- plantains, masa harina, avocados stand out in my mind -- but when it was bad, it was wretched. Chicken that stank, for example. I'm quite certain the poorest, most academically challenged person imaginable would have preferred to shop somewhere other than the Bestway "We Put the Foul in Fowl" chicken aisle.

Speaking of getting food to the people: I read a good article about a guy who had a mobile produce shop that brought Farmer's Market-type stuff to neighborhoods without good quality, affordable stuff.

I've struggled to figure out what rankles me about the op-ed. The closest I can come is the word, "judgemental."

There is often tremendous judgement against poor people who dare buy the "wrong" things, and it really pisses me off when a comfortably fed person nitpicks the Ding-Dongs in a single-mom-working-2-jobs's grocery cart.

So you know what?

I don't want to hear about the organic doughnut peaches in mine. To parraphrase Frank Drummond in The Naked Gun, "Maybe our problems don't amount to a bag of organic peaches in this crazy world, but this is my bag, and these are my peaches!"

Dammit.

Edited by ingridsf (log)

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

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russ, I wonder about the shopping carts that are filled with processed foods, too, most specifically even more when I see it within this income group. Yes.

When I remember carts like this, I don't remember seeing it with recent immigrants, though. . .I see it more with the sort of "entrenched" poor here.

I have a recurring rather surrealistic vision that they are buying these foods as a substitute for something more real that they think they can not attain. The foods become a metaphor for the American Dream in my mind. . .and it seems that they are going home to simply eat their dreams, whatever they may be. . . to swallow them whole in a huge bag of potato chips.

It is difficult sorting out these cultural/class/money things without someone's toes getting stepped on verbally, I guess.

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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i think this thread is much more coherent (even though we disagree) than the original piece. and of course you can make the elitist argument about food shopping. but i think what needs to be pointed out is that with food shopping--even at a place like whole foods--the buy-in for an "elite" product is so much less than in any other field. ok, yeah, the peaches are $3 as opposed to $1.50. Well, sorry, that's $1.50 more to have a product that delivers value (this is assuming it does, which, of course, means careful shopping). I mean, come on, we're not talking Mercedes and Kias here. I can almost guarantee that almost any family at any income level could go to a farmers market and pick up ingredients they can afford for a good dinner. the qualifier is whether they believe that it something we would consider delicious is worth it to them to go to the effort. how can something be called elitist when anyone can afford it? caviar, certainly, but peaches?

It's not the difference between one peach and another. It's the difference in buying a week's worth of gtoceries for a family of four, every week, all year -- not $1.50, but hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars. Sure, any family can go down to the market and pick a relatively inexpensive dinner. But not night after night, and to think otherwise is to be a bit detached from the way a lot of people live.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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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.)

For what it's worth, when I lived in Mt. Pleasant in DC, a predominantly Latino and working class neighborhood, 15 years ago, I shopped at its only grocery store, Bestway. I did in fact have a college degree but it was in philosophy, which is Latin for "love of bargain bins." Bestway had excellent quality/prices on certain stuff -- plantains, masa harina, avocados stand out in my mind -- but when it was bad, it was wretched. Chicken that stank, for example. I'm quite certain the poorest, most academically challenged person imaginable would have preferred to shop somewhere other than the Bestway "We Put the Foul in Fowl" chicken aisle.

Dammit.

Yep, that's my 'hood. The Bestway is what the locals are walking past the farmers market to get to. The store does OK when they're doing OK -- if you hit them on the right morning they have fish as fresh as Whole Foods for substantially cheaper. On the wrong day, well, you've been there. FWIW I buy free-rangers for dinner but use the Bestway "galenas" (old, large birds) for stock.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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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? 

I'd say this goes way beyond perception! I'm sure Ms. Powell has paid her dues in some area. Just not in food. I can think of few professions where so many unqualified, inexperienced people, are handed the title, "Chef," or "Expert." Giving her room on the OpEd page just perpetuates this annoying habit. Whatever. I thought her blog was original and not very well written, and that the humor was strained. The Times piece was all that -- but not all that original.

Ingrid: You KILL me. I got the biggest kick out of what you wrote! :laugh::laugh::laugh:

-Fabb

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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I resent anyone who thinks they are better than me (or anyone else) because they  purport to posess better taste.[...]

Oh, we certainly agree here. A person's capabilities don't make them "better" or "worse" than others, in the sense of having more or less value as human beings. But they might have more sensitive taste buds or/and a more sensitive nose.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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i think this thread is much more coherent (even though we disagree) than the original piece. and of course you can make the elitist argument about food shopping. but i think what needs to be pointed out is that with food shopping--even at a place like whole foods--the buy-in for an "elite" product is so much less than in any other field. ok, yeah, the peaches are $3 as opposed to $1.50. Well, sorry, that's $1.50 more to have a product that delivers value (this is assuming it does, which, of course, means careful shopping). I mean, come on, we're not talking Mercedes and Kias here.[...]

No, but people buy food a lot more often than they buy cars. So how many times should we multiply the $1.50 difference before it starts to be real money to a poor family?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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russ, I wonder about the shopping carts that are filled with processed foods, too, most specifically even more when I see it within this income group. Yes.

When I remember carts like this, I don't remember seeing it with recent immigrants, though. . .I see it more with the sort of "entrenched" poor here.

I have a recurring rather surrealistic vision that they are buying these foods as a substitute for something more real that they think they can not attain. The foods become a metaphor for the American Dream in my mind. . .and it seems that they are going home to simply eat their dreams, whatever they may be. . . to swallow them whole in a huge bag of potato chips.

It is difficult sorting out these cultural/class/money things without someone's toes getting stepped on verbally, I guess.

I brought this up with a friend of mine who loves to cook and eat and also happens to be on disabilty for a mental illness. She showed me another perspective on this whole thing.

When she has her druthers, and the money, and especially the energy and stamina, she is very glad to get ingredients that are exellent quality and to fix wonderful food with them. But she also stressed that many times she can barely make her self eat anything and it takes more energy and time than she can invest in even the simplest thing. Hence the junk food, the boxed/frozen foods, etc.

She also pointed out to me, that I may not know if a person in line in front of me who has a basket full of this stuff is in such a situation, say on disability or has some medical or mental problem that precludes them from doing even a bit of cooking.

I started looking at it differently after this.

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I brought this up with a friend of mine who loves to cook and eat and also happens to be on disabilty for a mental illness.  She showed me another perspective on this whole thing.

When she has her druthers, and the money, and especially the energy and stamina, she is very glad to get ingredients that are exellent quality and to fix wonderful food with them.  But she also stressed that many times she can barely make her self eat anything and it takes more energy and time than she can invest in even the simplest thing.  Hence the junk food, the boxed/frozen foods, etc. 

She also pointed out to me, that I may not know if a person in line in front of me who has a basket full of this stuff is in such a situation, say on disability or has some medical or mental problem that precludes them from doing even a bit of cooking. 

I started looking at it differently after this.

Thanks for pointing that out. You don't know what's going on with that person who bought the "wrong" food. I've got a physical disability that makes trekking around to farmer's markets/stores too ardous (and expensive since pub transit is inaccessible) so I order food in a lot. Had to get over my ingrained idea that I'm lazy.

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

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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.

Hmmm. Well, what's a bit of quoting out of context among friends? :blink:

I seem to remember reading many a thread on eGullet where people moan and groan about people who are rich and have cooks and maids and what-not, yet don't know anything about food. Remember that article about the wealthy woman who never cooked, ever, and barely knew how to boil water? And people went on and on about how awful this was, and how they knew so many people like that. Sheesh. All these wealthy people, and nary a farmer's market between them? What would Ms. Powell say?

Her argument seems to take this form: wealthy people shop at farmer's markets; therefore, all people who shop at farmer's markets are wealthy. And for good measure, she adds that these wealthy people look down their noses at those less wealthy than themselves who, by definition, do not shop at farmer's markets. It's not just that the wealthy "buy better" than the poor -- they're judgemental about it to boot.

And then she tells us about the poor Honduran family buying beans at Key Foods who are just as good as anybody buying at Whole Foods. It's a wonder she didn't think to mention the black family buying watermelon.

She makes assumptions that are not necessarily true, and then bemoans those assumptions as being terrible truths. I certainly hope she did a better bit of work on her book.

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No, but people buy food a lot more often than they buy cars. So how many times should we multiply the $1.50 difference before it starts to be real money to a poor family?

please don't misunderstand me. i'm not one of those people who shake their fingers at folks who buy convenience food and urge them to follow my one true path to gourmet happiness. i'm just pointing out that there are lots of discretionary purchases people make. they make all kinds of choices about where their money is going. and i do feel that i have some slight expertise about this as i don't live in brentwood but in a very working class neighborhood (formerly working class and under ... i guess that's what's meant by "transitional"). i do see how my neighbors spend their money. big screen tvs and satellite dishes are very big in my neighborhood. in fact, i've got one of the crappier cars in the area. that's fine. but let's not pretend that an extra $1.50 a pound for a really great peach is a forbidden pleasure for them.

edit for more thoughts:

as for busboy's points, i think we're on the same page mostly. i am so tight i squeak when i walk, even when it comes to buying food. i certainly don't shop at "gourmet" stores very often, though i do try to make a farmers market every week. most of my shopping is done at my supermarket (for staples) and trader joe's (god save'm, for most everything else--and there are all kinds of people buying better food there). i'm very fortunate to live in southern california, so when i buy fish, more than likely, i'm going to my japanese market and it's going to be amazing mackerel or sardines for $1 to $2 a pound. I get my pork butt at top valu for $2 a pound and it's great. i do go the extra money for a rocky every once in a while because since zacky farms was bought out, commercial chicken has gone down the toilet. so i only eat chicken a couple times a month. it's all about choices.

Edited by russ parsons (log)
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russ, I wonder about the shopping carts that are filled with processed foods, too, most specifically even more when I see it within this income group. Yes.

When I remember carts like this, I don't remember seeing it with recent immigrants, though. . .I see it more with the sort of "entrenched" poor here.

I have a recurring rather surrealistic vision that they are buying these foods as a substitute for something more real that they think they can not attain. The foods become a metaphor for the American Dream in my mind. . .and it seems that they are going home to simply eat their dreams, whatever they may be. . . to swallow them whole in a huge bag of potato chips.

It is difficult sorting out these cultural/class/money things without someone's toes getting stepped on verbally, I guess.

I brought this up with a friend of mine who loves to cook and eat and also happens to be on disabilty for a mental illness. She showed me another perspective on this whole thing.

When she has her druthers, and the money, and especially the energy and stamina, she is very glad to get ingredients that are exellent quality and to fix wonderful food with them. But she also stressed that many times she can barely make her self eat anything and it takes more energy and time than she can invest in even the simplest thing. Hence the junk food, the boxed/frozen foods, etc.

She also pointed out to me, that I may not know if a person in line in front of me who has a basket full of this stuff is in such a situation, say on disability or has some medical or mental problem that precludes them from doing even a bit of cooking.

I started looking at it differently after this.

I think it is possible that we see this in quite a similar fashion.

When writing the original post, I deleted some words that spoke of my "worry" about these people, for it sounded pretensious. For who am I to have the right to "worry" about anyone else for whatever reason?

There is, however, something that speaks to me of health and life in fresh foods as opposed to the boxed up type. That is a separate issue from the price/shopping venue issue that we've been discussing.

So when I see people whose carts seem to say to me, "Empty of the life that fresh real foods can offer", I wonder why it is that way, and why it has to be that way.

And I worry about the people. I wonder how things could be changed to make it "better" for them.

But that "better" is of course, only my opinion, my sense of what food is and how it can create a good and happy life in its own small way for people.

Finally, I push it to the side of my mind as "something just to mull over" for surely I am not positive that I am right in projecting what are my own ideas of what food is and what it can do, onto other people.

I think it was andiesenji who wrote in a thread a ways back of how the cooking of good things, fresh things, had brought health at times not only to her but also to other people she had known.

I guess in some part of my mind, I think that if that health and good-feeling can be brought by fresh vital foods cooked and eaten by people who are physically ill, then perhaps the same idea might be used to heal the hurts of people who are also either mentally or. . .may I say culturally ill? If poverty could be considered a cultural illness. . .I don't know.

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Well, really. . .I do have to laugh at the way my last post sounds, for it truly sounds as if I think all the ills of the world can be cured with a bushel of fresh red peppers or something. :biggrin:

Oh, well. I guess it is as good an idea as any. Though definitely rather loopy sounding. :wacko:

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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.

Hmmm. Well, what's a bit of quoting out of context among friends? :blink:

I seem to remember reading many a thread on eGullet where people moan and groan about people who are rich and have cooks and maids and what-not, yet don't know anything about food. Remember that article about the wealthy woman who never cooked, ever, and barely knew how to boil water? And people went on and on about how awful this was, and how they knew so many people like that. Sheesh. All these wealthy people, and nary a farmer's market between them? What would Ms. Powell say?

Her argument seems to take this form: wealthy people shop at farmer's markets; therefore, all people who shop at farmer's markets are wealthy. And for good measure, she adds that these wealthy people look down their noses at those less wealthy than themselves who, by definition, do not shop at farmer's markets. It's not just that the wealthy "buy better" than the poor -- they're judgemental about it to boot.

And then she tells us about the poor Honduran family buying beans at Key Foods who are just as good as anybody buying at Whole Foods. It's a wonder she didn't think to mention the black family buying watermelon.

She makes assumptions that are not necessarily true, and then bemoans those assumptions as being terrible truths. I certainly hope she did a better bit of work on her book.

First, the quotes are in context, especially since anyone can read through the thread and see exactly where they came from. Not much point in mounting a 3000-word recap of what's right there to look at; it's neither a dissertation nor a legal briefing.

Second, it would be absurd for anyone to deny-- in my city and, apparently in hers, if nowhere else -- that the Farmers Market/Whole Foods (FM/WF, from now on) is virtually bereft of poor and working class people. Sure, I saw a couple of ladies trying to use their WIC checks the other day, but they were by far the exception. To argue otherwise is to lose credibility.

Third, her argument is that, by making a certain type of virtue dependent on income, you risk making people unvirtuous simply because they have no money (and spawn a people who thiunk they are virtuous merely because of their produce and certain insidious marketing campaigns). I agree with her.

Finally, the "surprised she didn't mention black people and watermeleons" lifts the ad hominem to a new level. I don't know about your town, but in my Latin neighborhood, the people tend to buy a lot of traditional Latin foodstuffs, including plaintains, magoes, odd bits of cow and...beans.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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And then she tells us about the poor Honduran family buying beans at Key Foods who are just as good as anybody buying at Whole Foods. It's a wonder she didn't think to mention the black family buying watermelon.

:blink:

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

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Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

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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...

Busboy, I wasn't trying to "attack" Julie Powell. Please let the record show that I have a lot of respect for her and the project. I can tell you I cried real tears of salt when I read her last post on the blog, after Julia Child died.

I don't think the Op-Ed is her best writing, and although she has a decent point about looking down on folks who can't afford good food, it's a clumsy delivery and a silly argument: every one still ought to eat well, whether they have the cash or not.

I guess that's why the implication that I was making an ad homimen attack stings for me: quite the opposite. I thought the piece was below her regular standard, and I guessed it was because it was put together because her publicist or someone told her she could get in the Times, or some such silly reason.

Anyway, it's pure speculation on my part. So who knows? I wish her well. Not having a crystal clear and foodie-worthy argument in the NYT Op-ed page is hardly a crime against humanity.

Malcolm Jolley

Gremolata.com

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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. 

. . . .

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.

Actually, I thought I found those sorts of accusations in the original article where the upscale Whole Foods and Union Square Greenmarket are deemed to be "judgmental." The implication that Whole Foods and the Greenmarket do not take food stamps uses a falsehood to argue a point not made otherwise and should not go unchallenged. I disagree that it's nit picking. There is truly no counter to be made if one can't disagree with specifics.

I will still insist that a French chef making confit de canard would greatly prefer the freshest of duck meat at the start. Let's agree on the use of preserved ingredients, but note that they may constitute some of the most expensive ingredients to come to the table. It's not just caviar, but salt cod as well. In Spain, I've seen salt cod selling for a multiple of the best tuna at the Greenmarket or wild Pacific salmon at Whole Foods. Preserving was always the preserve, so to speak, of those who had enough to stash away and the best quality of preserved food itself came to command high prices. In any event, I feel you're twisting my response out of the context of her suggestion that the chefs who cooked haute cuisine were concerned with sauces to cover the taste, or lack of taste, or inferior products. You seem to be playing the technicality card. Furthermore, it's Alice Waters who said her love for fresh herbs and vegetables came from her experiences in France. It's just not reasonable to set Julia Child, who I love more than Alice Waters, as the one who brought all of French food culture to America and Alice as a never ran in the same department. They need to share the honor for bringing different aspects as they saw them and as they could make their timely contributions to our culinary culture. I haven't taken issue with the positive things in Julie's article, but with the unnecessary tarring.

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.

Have any of the article's critics implied otherwise? Did Julie make a positive contribution? Does she really get credit for bringing unpleasant truths by stating the obviously true and surrounding it with mistruths? I don't think so. You don't agree entirely with the article, but you're not willing to be critical of the mistruths. In the end, Julie noted that there's not much difference between the good shopper and the bad shopper at both ends of the scale. A proper attack on the negative aspects of the "organic" movement can be made. Julie didn't make it in my opinion and I've tried to explain why I didn't think so.

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 don't think the Op-Ed is her best writing, and although she has a decent point about looking down on folks who can't afford good food, it's a clumsy delivery and a silly argument: every one still ought to eat well, whether they have the cash or not.[...]

Malcolm, I thought she made the point that it's possible to shop well at both the high and low ends, so I don't think she was making the point that the poor can't afford good food.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Third, her argument is that, by making a certain type of virtue dependent on income, you risk making people unvirtuous simply because they have no money (and spawn a people who thiunk they are virtuous merely because of their produce and certain insidious marketing campaigns).  I agree with her.

But that's precisely the point of contention. (Or one of them, at least.) Who is saying that shopping at WW/FM is a "virtue"? The argument is based on that claim, but I think the claim is false to beging with. Basing one's morality on where they shop for food? I might comment on their sense of taste based on where they shop for food (and be wrong, by the way), but their morality? Their virtue? I think that's completely off-base.

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But that's precisely the point of contention. (Or one of them, at least.) Who is saying that shopping at WW/FM is a "virtue"? The argument is based on that claim, but I think the claim is false to beging with. Basing one's morality on where they shop for food? I might comment on their sense of taste based on where they shop for food (and be wrong, by the way), but their morality? Their virtue? I think that's completely off-base.

The propaganda of the organic movement do just that. On the "Breaking the Chains" page of the Organic Consumers Association website, www.organicconsumers.org, there's a link to an article titled "Is Shopping at Wal-Mart Moral". (No prize for guessing what their answer is). Throughout the site, they use phrases like "ethically responsible" and "ethically conscious" to describe themselves. The OCA crusade reeks of moral superiority.

Buying local and organic is a worthy goal. We can all do without the moral rhetoric.

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