food + money: rising food costs


a little late, but a very interesting article in slate on the disjunction between rising food costs and the fiscally unrestrained foodie industry. class discussions about fresh, organic food vs. processed food are commonplace now, but still foodie-centric blogs make a bigger deal about seasonal ingredients and fancy meals than cheaper alternatives. why?

and more importantly, why are we so unwilling to enjoy our food while thinking about costs at the same time? even personal finance bloggers, when asked, admit to splurging on food expenses more than anything else. is it not possible to enjoy your food AND be frugal about it? especially with organic food costs rising to astronomic highs!

i admit, i'm not exempt from culpability here- i just mentioned that my dinner at momofuku ko was the highlight of my dining this year. and yet, it also just happened to be the most expensive. coincidence? perhaps you could make an argument that price correlates with quality in food, but if you've ever gone to a taco truck, or queens, for that matter- you know that it is not true. i think it must be that we're motivated to value things that are highly valued around us; my memories of dinner at momofuku ko have only heightened since reading the dizzying reviews. but what about creating a culture around valuing cheap, but good, food? after all, as the slate article says "we rhapsodize about la cucina povera—that is, "poor food" like polenta, beans, and braise-worthy cuts of meat like short-ribs and pigs trotters—but we rarely talk about cooking in terms of dollars and cents."

in this vein, i was encouraged to see the nytimes, that bastion of rampant foodie worship, review suburban chain restaurants, like applebee's and outback. and, much to their shocked surprise, they found the food to be pretty good.(i actually found their surprise to be a little condescending and offensive, but that's another story) conversely, i found it disheartening to see a major foodie outlet, serious eats, pick up the story of rising food costs with little discussion. the few comments made revolved around blaming the larger agricultural system and encouraging people to grow their own food. while growing your own food is a wonderfully worthwhile and satisfying endeavor, so is making a grocery list/budget, which is much, much easier.

as someone who enjoys food, it's a good exercise for me to understand the financial implications of my eating- which is why i've started posting the costs of each of the recipes i make. food and money, as we see from this more in-depth economist article are much more intertwined in the macro global system than in our everyday grocery-shopping lives. it would benefit us all to remedy that.
Miguel Angel Escobar said...

I really enjoyed this post! Very thoughtful.

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