Thebastidge: Food security
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    ********************Southwest Washington Surplus, your prepping supply store********************

    Tuesday, June 19, 2007

    Food security

    Lyse has a post up, a righteous rant that I found myself nodding along to. Mostly.

    She says, (regarding some assistance programs):
    "considering the cost difference between wholesome and healthy food staples and cheap junk food, it has to make a huge difference in dietary options."

    No! No! No!

    Healthy food is NOT more expensive than junk food. It is more time-consuming. Even if the flashier types of real food are a bit expensive (steak vs stew meat) you can prepare healthful and filling meals cheaper than you can eat junk food and overly-processed crap. It won't always be "certified organic", and it won't always be something you want to have a candlelight dinner over, but certainly healthy and better than the majority of humanity for the greater part of history including most of the world right now. Fresh fruit costs far less per pound than potato chips. Instant rice costs more per pound than healthier regular rice. Instant noodles in individual servings cost more than bulk pasta which can be made in any size serving, including individual.

    While I think vegetarianism is stupid and unhealthy, you can be perfectly healthy on a bit of meat and get the rest of your protein from beans, for example. At less than a dollar per pound for dry beans, money goes a LONG way. It doesn't have to be plain beans either, but it does require a little imagination, a little time, and a little self-investment in learning how to cook.

    While I'm not opposed to these programs (I have had MORE than my air share of gubmint cheese sammiches growing up, thank you very much), I definitely see them as something which should be limited in duration, and not seen as a "paycheck". Pay is something you earn through exchange of labour or goods. What you get from an assistance program is CHARITY. It's not shameful to need assistance now and then. It's just shameful to use it more than necessary, without gratitude. I think she and I are on the same track here.

    Food security in this country is NOT a problem of wealth or poverty, hasn't been since the Great Depression, but of impulse control and future vs present time orientation. You have to plan your meals more than 5 minutes in advance, but at least you don't have to lie in wait for it all day, then run it down and fight with it before you get to eat it (though I don't really mind that part sometimes), or range your territory trying to find something to dig up or climb trees to eat.

    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, Moorewatch and our fearless leader Drumwaster)


    Blogger Geoff said...

    Knowing Lyse, I think you reversed the polarity on what she was saying. Assistance programs don't go as far when used to purchase junk food.

    That's what pisses her off. People complaining that they aren't getting enough to buy all the food they require when they're loading up on Ho -Ho's. It's a double hit; less food per dollar and less nutrients in that food. People being too entitled and lazy to make intelligent choices with the food they choose.

    12:40 AM  
    Blogger Larry said...

    Maybe I misunderstood slightly- I'm a little over-senstive with the stuff I hear from people all the time abouthow poor people can't afford good food- what's-her-name's book, Nickled and Dimed being a prime example.

    Like I said, I was nodding along at every point except:

    "I don't think that WIC magically takes away all worries for their children's nutritional needs - after all, it only provides for specific food items and it would probably be impossible to actually feed a kid solely from WIC. But, considering the cost difference between wholesome and healthy food staples and cheap junk food, it has to make a huge difference in dietary options."

    What WIC does, is force these people to get certain types of food.

    In her next paragraph, she says:

    "I also don't think that anyone using food stamps should be humiliated or forced to purchase strictly staples for preparing every meal from scratch."

    But she criticizes many people's choices (fairly, IMHO):

    "I can't tell you how many times I have seen a person with an entire cart full of junk (chips, soda, candy) pay for it with their food stamp card. And then there are the people that buy lobster and filet mignon. Gah. Seriously - put it back and buy something a little less outrageous with that money that was given to you."

    However, this is exactly what WIC does- just not for the entire budget. WIC makes them get some proportion of healthy food into a diet that is otherwise discretionary.

    WIC would not be necessary if:

    A: people used their food stamp benefits wisely (but then, some large percentage of people on food stamps are there precisely because they don't use their money wisely)

    B: the food stamp program was more directive and less discretionary in nature (which, as she points out, would require even MORE admin cost probably to no more social good)

    C: if the WIC money and the food stamp money didn't come out of different funding sources, with different goals, they could mandate percentages either through electronic tracking, or random audits.

    1:35 AM  

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