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Thread: Has the media changed food buying trends

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    Senior Member Rogar's Avatar
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    Has the media changed food buying trends

    I have been a great fan of Michael Pollan's books, which also got me going on some of the recent movies like King Corn, and most recently to some of the issues with sea food. I suppose that with all of the important issues out there, it is hard to keep up with everything. But the practices of factory farming and ranching and overfishing seem to have pretty important implications for one's health and well being, animal rights, and the environment.

    Unlike public policy and politics where we mostly observe and grouse about things, how we choose our food sources is something that everyone can participate in on an almost daily basis and make a small difference. It's definately made a difference in my shopping and eating habits.

    Among my aquaintances, I think more than half have at least read one of Pollan's books and maybe seen one of the movies or PBS features. But for the most part I can't really see many changes in the way these people shop or eat. What little I can tell while shopping I'm not see any big differences. People are still buying the factory eggs, with full knowledge that the laying hens are raised six to a compartment the size of an auto battery and may be contaminated with pathogens, just as an example. This just is wrong and doesn't make sense to me? The solutions are pretty easy, though sometimes a little more expensive.

    Probably most of the people who participate in the forums are a little more concious of their shopping habits, but I'm curious what you might be observing with others. Do you see things changing just a little, some, or not at all? Any theories as to why or why not?

    I'm considering getting slighlty more active with one of these issues, and trying to understand a little more.
    Last edited by Rogar; 1-8-11 at 2:04pm.

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    I'm a highly conscious food buyer, probably because I used to be a farmer. We're in austerity measures, but that doesn't mean we'll buy factory produced animal products - we're cutting down on consumption of eggs & meats, but still buying the same locally produced stuff, which is expensive, just less of it each week.

    I was raised on cheap food, and my elder parents still insist on it, even though they have multiple health problems that could be ameliorated by higher quality food. I think that nearly a century of factory farming has trained a few generations to expect cheap and poor quality. It's hard to change habits - really hard!

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    Senior Member kib's Avatar
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    Well ... yesterday there were two people in front of me at the (big box) grocery store. The first one had a basket of fruits and veggies, the second, an older gentleman, had nearly all "ingredients" and not prepackaged foods, which to me is a step in the right direction, it indicates at least consciousness about food. Personally I bought organic celery and cabbage - and another box of attempt-to-fix-this hair color. So out of the three, I was the one with the "worst" grocery pile!

    The trouble with good eating is, in part, the fact that it's exponentially more expensive for a larger family. I mean for just me, eating "the best" food vs the cheapest would triple my grocery bill, but the difference is still only about $140. A family of six eating the best vs the cheapest might see the bill go up by $600, which just isn't workable for most average earning families already more or less living hand to mouth with a budget for cheap food already set in place.

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    I think people's food buying trends are all over the map. Some are very picky about what they eat and others seem but what they always have. What I am noticing though is that there are many more choices at the grocery than in the past for those who want to eat a healthier diet. Even watching a show like Dr Oz who talks about nutrition and healthier eating choices seems like it would change the minds of some who might not even care initially. In most cases though, price is the primary factor and the 1.29 eggs will always beat out the $4.00 local eggs for most people.

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    Senior Member Rogar's Avatar
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    I guess it does seem like there has been a little progress in the fruits and vegetables category. My local Safeway and Kings Soopers has organic options and occationally it's even on sale, though still pricey. Thinking of it, I guess also that the big boxes may try to buy local produce when it's in season, which isn't very long here in Colorado. (I am amazed at how far away produce can be shipped during the off season and still be profitable).

    I've not seen any real progress in meats, fish, or eggs. I have a "good bad and ugly" wallet sized card downloaded from the Monterey Bay Aquarium site for buying good sea food choices. I don't see any wisdom at all in the fish the big boxes carry. And when it comes to meats, poulty and eggs, there is really only one choice at the big boxes. At least one thing I've thought about is talking with a few store managers and writing a letter or two to request more choices for these things.

    I understand the money issues for larger families and people with limited incomes. For a lot of middle incomes, it seems like it comes down to priorities where there are some easy trade-offs to sacrifice for healthy and concious food buying.
    Last edited by Rogar; 1-8-11 at 4:21pm.

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    Senior Member kib's Avatar
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    Frugal and Green often go hand in hand, but not when it comes to humane and ethical animal products. Even for miracle workers like Joel Salatin, humane meat farming is more expensive per pound than factory farming, at least at the register. I'd say a good slogan would go something like, "if you can't afford grass-fed, just eat the grass instead." Not great but you get the point - organic/ethical plant farming, while more expensive than factory methods, combines affordability and greenness (at least when compared with organic/ethical meat farming). I'm a believer in eating plenty of animal protein, but to the extent that I can't afford "happy meat", I avoid animal protein altogether.

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    Senior Member IshbelRobertson's Avatar
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    I don't have any knowledge of Mr Pollan.
    However, I have only bought organic meats for more than 20 years - and also try to buy organic veggies and fruit, too. Although, living in northern Europe, this is more difficult.

    I TRY to eat, organic meats, and veggies/fruits in season.... although, as I've explained, this is often impossible for about 5 months of the year.

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    Senior Member daisy's Avatar
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    We get free range eggs and pork from my sister and lamb from a local medical charity that runs an organic grass-fed farming operation to raise money for their medical missions. We're also planning on buying some grass fed beef from them next spring. I also have a garden that supplies between a third and half of our vegetable needs.

    In observing other shoppers when I am out and about, I would say the majority of people probably aren't concerned with what they are eating or where it comes from, but there is a strong and growing minority that is very concerned and makes it a point to support the local (and more humane) producers.

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    Senior Member RosieTR's Avatar
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    I would agree that the majority haven't done too much. The changes I have noticed, however: "regular" grocery stores like Kroger/Safeway etc have made more effort to showcase local foods, and the truly local places have had more customers even during the downturn. One of the difficulties of the local/sustainable food movement is that so many people really have no idea how to cook. Comparing organic premade whatever with organic raw ingredients may mean the difference in whether a middle class family can afford at least some organic stuff but if you can't cook then good luck. A can of organic crushed tomato might not be much more than a regular one, but a jar of organic pre-made spaghetti sauce might be 2 or 3x more than a regular one. Making spaghetti sauce is pretty easy but if you have no clue how to make it and have a couple of hungry, picky kids you might not go there. Some of the foodie stuff might put roadblocks up too-I've seen recipes for tomato sauce that being with shocking raw tomatoes and go from there. Great if you have an entire day but for most families it's a big step just to go from jar of Prego to assembling an onion, a clove of garlic, some oregano, some basil and some canned tomato.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RosieTR View Post
    Some of the foodie stuff might put roadblocks up too-I've seen recipes for tomato sauce that being with shocking raw tomatoes and go from there. Great if you have an entire day but for most families it's a big step just to go from jar of Prego to assembling an onion, a clove of garlic, some oregano, some basil and some canned tomato.
    I don't think tomato sauce from raw tomatoes is difficult. Ok, I'm kind of a lazy person and I don't always peel the vegetables the recipes say to peel. I mean if they are organic what harm is a little peel going to do, so I would just use unpeeled tomatoes. So really it's just cut up some onion and saute in olive oil,add cut up tomatoes, add some salt. Some garlic helps, fresh basil improve it a lot, black pepper if you like. If you want to add a few more fancy additions: sliced pitted black olives, red pepper flakes. Cook until it reaches a sauce consistency. I wouldn't expect much from tomatoes this time of year though, I'd almost prefer to use jarred tomatoes in winter. This was based on a recipe in that ultimately snobby foody cookbook called "Better Homes and Gardens cookbook"

    I think that consciousness about food is growing but many still remain unaware.

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