CK Friday Links--Friday January 14, 2011

Here's yet another selection of interesting links from around the internet. As always, I welcome your thoughts and your feedback.

PS: Follow me on Twitter!

So, you wanna be a vegetarian, do ya? (EcoSalon)

Conclusive, pictoral proof that healthy food costs less than fast food. (SparkPeople, via Stuart Carter) Note the excuse-making in the comments!

Does our present food system "make unhealthful eating the default?" Hint: it's a trick question. (Food Politics)

Scales lie. (344 Pounds)

Recipe Links:
How to make your own Sea Salt--it's way easier than you'd think. (Salty Seattle)

An intriguing Sweet Orange Chicken recipe--gluten free! (Jenn Cuisine)

A ridiculously easy side dish that will wow you: Roasted Cabbage with Lemon. (Kalyn's Kitchen)

Off-Topic Links:
The concept of Right People means not wishing people were any different from what they are. We're not in high school any more. (The Fluent Self)

Exceptionally useful advice on avoiding investment scams. (A Dash of Insight)

How to build a longer attention span. (The Change Blog)

Do you have an interesting article or recipe that you'd like to see featured in Casual Kitchen's Food Links? Send me an email!

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K said...

One comment about the going vegetarian article - dogs and cats are CARNIVORES. Not omnivores, and definitely NOT vegetarians. Cats are obligate carnivores, and need meat to survive, while dogs, although then can survive on a vegetarian diet, tend not to thrive on one.

I have no issue with people choosing not to eat meat, but I do have huge issues with anyone that forces an animal into a diet that goes against it's basic biology. Forcing a cat, dog or ferret to eat a vegetarian diet is just as irresponsible as forcing a cow to eat animal protein, IMO.

Diane said...

K: Once in the heyday of the granola-crunchy 1970's my Mom tried to make our cat a vegetarian, based on some silly article she read. I think she lasted two days and then brought home a bird. That was that. Yes, cats require meat!

Melissa said...

"Note the excuse-making in the comments!"

I had to stop reading after about a dozen of them. GAH.

Little Les said...

to me, the noticeable thing about the pictorial comparison is how the unhealthy pictures are all of prepared food (ok, maybe a couple things needed a quick turn in the microwave) and the food in the healthy pictures needed some time and effort. So is the bottom line - people are just lazy?

Diane said...

@Little Less: I did think the pictorials were slightly unfair in that they couldn't be combined all that well in every case to make an obviously complete, balanced, tasty meal. So while some of it may be that people are lazy, some of it may be that they are just unsure what to do with a big pile of raw ingredients without a lot of guidance.

I'm not arguing with the basic premise - I think it's cheap to eat healthy whole foods - but I did think the pictorial was a tad poorly structured.

Stuart Carter said...

thanks for the name check, Daniel :) For some reason, blogger isn't allowing me to link my own website to my profile (fie, blogger!): (I am a contributing author to Free the Hops, which is also worth reading)

Daniel said...

Anytime Stuart, I fixed the link to point to your site.


Daniel said...

And yeah, I should have cautioned readers to read just some of the whiny excuse-making comments. Life is just too short.


Marcia said...

I TOTALLY posted that Sparkpeople link earlier this week. LOVE it!

Erica Tesla said...

"Note the excuse-making in the comments!"

There was some excuse-making in the comments, but there were also some valid points - about the execution of the article/comparison, not so much the validity of the point overall. Execution can mean the difference between 400+ nitpicking comments and people saying, "Wow, that really opened my eyes." Among the valid points:

Regional price variety does make some of those comparisons much less compelling - I moved from the midwest where 99¢ per pound was a routine sale price for boneless/skinless chicken breasts, to California, and whoa the sticker shock (routine sale price ~$3, occasional sale price $2). (On the other hand, prices for produce are so ridiculously low here that I find myself gaping at the circulars on weeks where I find some fruit at 3-4 pounds for a dollar.)

On the other side of things, they definitely weren't picking value-menu stuff, either - back when I ate fast food, the $2 chicken nugget + baked potato combination was a typical favorite.

But it's a thought experiment; I'd guess you can still do better money-wise putting some time in to make a healthy meal at home. The question isn't whether or not it's cheaper, but for a lot of people, whether the money savings compensates for the time they have to invest in that healthy meal. For me, the calculation is easy: fast food grosses me out and makes me feel ill when I eat it, and I enjoy cooking. For someone who doesn't enjoy it, who knows?

I do think that the criticism that assembling the ingredients into example meals would have been helpful. There are people out there who see a bag of potatoes, a bag of frozen veggies, and a package of chicken breasts, and can't fathom how that turns into a meal. Kind of sad, but true. On the other hand, there are some bizarre combinations there, too - the green bean/cucumber/banana/grape/pasta/beans thing struck me as particularly odd for trying to put together any kind of meal. (But that's also juxtaposed with a case of Coca-Cola, which is in no way meal-worthy, either.)

So yes, I think the general point of the article was both valid and necessary, but they might have tweaked execution to make the point more strongly (and with less room for folks to poke holes).

Anonymous said...

The comments on the pictorial were priceless. It was great to have pictures of what your money can get you, depending on price. The midwest tends to be cheaper than the rest of the country for food, partially because our cost of living is less, so it costs a grocery store less to operate, which helps keep prices lower.

It can pay to live in flyover land.

I can understand why some less experienced home cooks would be confused/frustrated with some of the combinations since some were rather odd, like the Total, ground turkey, and mixed veggies. Seems like a "mystery box" from Chopped. The other thing is people were whining about seasonings. Around these parts you can get 1 oz of most spices/herbage dried for about $1. Not going to use all of that basil in one meal I'm sure, but some just want to make excuse.

Reminds me of a friend's spouse (an attorney making well over 6 figures) saying there is no way people can eat 5 or more servings of fruits/veggies a day. It costs too much.

Daniel said...

Interesting discussion on the "Conclusive, pictoral proof that healthy food costs less than fast food" post.

I'll add this thought, which is in keeping with my recent post on excuse-making: It takes the exact same amount of time to take a tip that works for someone else and figure out why it won't work for you, as it takes to figure out a way to tweak that tip so that it will work for you.

This is not to say that there weren't holes in the piece. Erica is right, there were. But it's worth thinking about whether the collective time and energy behind those 400+ nitpicking comments could have been applied towards seeking solutions instead.


Sally said...

The article states that the grocery shopping was done at Wal-Mart and Meijer in Noblesville, IN and Cincinnati. I live about 30 minutes from the stores in Noblesville, though I shop at stores closer to home. Point being -- the prices should be similar. Though I like Meijer very much, I rarely shop there because it's the furthest away of many groceries in my area, (including Trader Joe's and Whole Foods) -- just far enough that I plan to go there. They do have a huge produce department that is often named "the best" in the greater Indianapolis area. Great variety and prices -- bunches of fresh herbs, for instance, are usually half the price as they are at other groceries.

According to their flier, this week Meijer has 5-1 pound bags of name brand frozen vegetables for $5.

I went to Wal-Mart yesterday and did some price comparing in addition to my shopping. (I do wish the article stated when they did the shopping, even though it was posted this month.) Bananas were the same price, potatoes were substantially more. I bought two cans of diced tomatoes for less that the listed price. A half-gallon of milk was the price they gave for a gallon. I didn't see any fresh corn, but I've not seen that price for a long time, even at the produce stands or farmer's market in season. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts were $3/lb. The wheat bread was more, but that price was still over $1 less than at other local groceries. Dried beans and rice were about the same. I bought a different brand of peanut butter for a little less.

If price is important, you do have to pay attention. In the spring I needed some things from Wal-Mart (in addition to groceries) and also the grocery. I decided that I'd just get the groceries while I was there -- then went to the regular grocery to get the things I couldn't get there. Everything I bought was cheaper at the regular grocery (which is generally regarded as the most expensive in the area) and only two of the things were on sale.

My biggest problem with the article was the meat. Not the price, but the quality. We're encouraged not to buy factory-farmed meat for a variety of reasons, but all of the meat at Wal-Mart is factory farmed and the fish is farm raised.

There's a gourmet grocery near me where the price for wild-caught American shrimp is just a little more than the regular price at Wal-Mart for farm raised shrimp. It often goes on sale for a few dollars/pound less.