Food

When Restaurant Workers Can’t Afford to Eat

In July, the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) of New York, an organization dedicated to improving wages and conditions for people who work in restaurants, released a report called “Food Insecurity of Restaurant Workers.” The report, based on surveys and interviews with people in the restaurant industry in New York and San Francisco, shows the ways in which the employment conditions of restaurant work make it very difficult for workers to feed themselves.

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How Much More Are You Spending at the Grocery Store?

On Aug. 11, Mary Ellen Burris, a senior vice president of consumer affairs for Wegmens, a family-owned grocery chain in upstate New York wrote a blog post titled “Sky High Beef” to explain to customers why beef prices have risen lately.

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Amusement Park Tally: What It Cost, What It Was Worth

As promised, my little family hit up Coney Island this weekend for some sun, fun, and bruising brought on by the Cyclone, one of America’s oldest and ricketiest wooden roller coasters. Here’s what we spent and an analysis of whether each purchase was justified:

+ NYAquarium tickets

COST: $24 for two adults. Babygirl got in free.

WORTH IT?: Mostly. Did you know there are penguins in South Africa? Warm weather “jackass” penguins! They are small and adorable; in the water, swimming, they resemble ducks.

The aquarium is pretty small. A good chunk is still under construction, post-Sandy. Babygirl enjoyed trying to catch the tiny, iridescent fish in the tanks and was less enthusiastic about the sea lion show: she shrieked in terror at the sight of their sleek, monstrous bodies emerging from the water to clap their fins. Overall, it was a fun family outing, though I wouldn’t rush to do it again.

+ One Cyclone ride

COST: $9

WORTH IT: Ben emerged battered and hoarse with a huge grin on his face. Unequivocal yes, says he.

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Time to Panic About Hazelnuts

Not to worry, via my old favorite Venessa Wong at Businessweek, Nutella owns 25% of the world’s supply of hazelnuts and has acquired Oltan Group, the leading supplier of hazelnuts. Nutella will be fine. They account for 70% of all U.S. sales of chocolate spreads and are, somehow, a 2.5 BILLION dollar company. That’s a lot of people studying abroad and then coming home feeling really cultured because they put Nutella on their toast now. (BEEN THERE.) But it’s the other guys, the little confectioners, that have to worry.

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$100 Worth of Ice Cream From a Man Named Bubby

Thank you Grub Street, thank you Bubby’s High Line, the restaurant in the Meatpacking District of NYC, where said ice cream can be purchased. And lastly thank you AMERICA, land of the free:

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Jimmy John’s Employees File Lawsuit Re: Working Off The Clock

Those of you who know me know that there are a handful of brands I love so much that I shill them perpetually on my favorite social media channels: Fireball whiskey, the Gorilla Workout, Amtrak, and of course Jimmy John’s, home of the best sandwich in the entire world, the Number 6 With Pep.

I order Jimmy John’s more than I care to admit; at $8 for the sandwich and the freaky fast delivery, it’s an extremely justifiable expense, plus there’s a long stupid Proustian thing about how the sandwiches remind me of adult independence and happiness that I just don’t want to get into right now. (To make a long story short: some of my most formative moments occurred in the company of a Jimmy John’s sandwich, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that keeps happening.)

Which is why I regret to inform you that two Jimmy John’s employees have filed a lawsuit against Jimmy John’s, to wit:

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The Budget-Friendly Way to Avoid Alzheimer’s

Eat fishReally? Fish? Yes. Does it have to be salmon? No. But it has to be … fish? Yes. So saith Science.

“There wasn’t one type of fish that was the best,” Raji told me by phone, probably while eating fish. “All that mattered was the method of preparation.” Fried fish had a unique dearth of benefits to the human brain. “If you eat fish just once a week, your hippocampus—the big memory and learning center—is 14 percent larger than in people who don’t eat fish that frequently. 14 percent. That has implications for reducing Alzheimer’s risk,” Raji said. “If you have a stronger hippocampus, your risk of Alzheimer’s is going to go down.” “In the orbital frontal cortex, which controls executive function, it’s a solid 4 percent,” Raji said. “I don’t know of any drug or supplement that’s been shown to do that.” … Up to half of cases of Alzheimer’s disease “are potentially attributable” to seven modifiable risk factors: diabetes, midlife high blood pressure, midlife obesity, smoking, depression, cognitive inactivity or low educational attainment, and physical inactivity. Minimal inroads in those areas, they say, could result in millions fewer cases of Alzheimer’s.

We talk a lot around these parts about how to, and much to, save for retirement. So much will depend, though, on whether one and/or one’s partner is healthy enough to enjoy one’s last years — especially outside of that crooked home we saw on “60 Minutes.” Plan for the future: eat fish. It won’t bankrupt you, or at least, it doesn’t have to. 

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Here Is Your Open Thread

In The New Republic, a case against office snacks (provided to employees for free as a perk):

In fact, employees may not even fully register that they are consuming office goodies—in part because they are so convenient. When it comes to snacking, we are especially bad not only at self-control, but also at knowing how bad we are at self-control. In one recent study, 40 adult secretaries were offered chocolate in various degrees of proximity. As the chart below shows, they ate more candies when the candies were visible and near, and only slightly fewer when they had to get up to get the candy but it was still visible. This tendency to eat more when the sweets are near seems obvious, but the tendency to eat more was fuelled by quantitative misperception: The secretaries also tended to underestimate their consumption when the candy was close and to overestimate how much they had consumed when it was farther away.

Also: The snacks at Tumblr, where Meaghan used to work, is “stocked with granola bars, chips, yogurt, fresh fruit and veggies, cold brew coffee, and a seltzer machine.”

I’d be totally cool with over-snacking on veggies and seltzer.

Photo: Nate Grigg

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When Giving Makes You Feel Rich Vs. Poor

On Thursday, I bought my best friend sushi, a treat she only rarely allows herself. On Friday, I took two of my aunts to see Boyhood, the Richard Linklater movie filmed over 12 years, which is a revelation. Better and truer than Tree of Life, and it actually made me want to spend time in Texas. On Saturday, I sent my little brother and his girlfriend to see a show at the Kennedy Center as a happy birthday! / farewell to DC, since Judah is off, with his new car, to start a job in Las Vegas. And on Sunday, I bought dinner for my husband’s godmother and her daughter, who were visiting from North Carolina.

I feel great. Better than great: I feel rich.

Sometimes being generous doesn’t work that way for me. I can buy a friend a book, or dinner, or a present, just because, or make a donation to a worthy cause, and feel sort of bereft afterwards — or at least stressed out about how much discretionary spending I should allow myself. Not regretful, just tense and sad, and then usually guilty for feeling tense and sad.

Other times, tinkling bells play lightly in the distance, meaning magic has happened. Maybe my weekend of giving worked in part because I recently had a birthday in honor of which so many people were generous to me, and it felt good to pay that generosity forward? In any event, I spent more than I anticipated — #MyLastHundredBucks, easy — although I haven’t counted up exactly how much, and I don’t care; it made me actively happy to do it. I do wish I understood the alchemy a little better, because getting to act from a place of abundance rather than scarcity, getting to feel rich by giving money away, especially to people you love, is kind of the best feeling ever.

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Kima Jones on ‘The Wrath of The Math’

The newest quarterly edition of Scratch Magazine just released, and this quarter’s Scratch is on the theme of “security,” both financially and in other ways. The entire issue is fantastic, but one of the pieces that stuck out was Kima Jones’ five-part “Baby Gotta Eat” piece. (Although Scratch is subscription-based, you can read all of “Baby Gotta Eat” for free.)

Kima Jones is a poet and a writer, but that is only one of her many jobs—she also has a full-time job and a part-time weekend job. As she writes in “Part I: For Further Consideration:”

I have always worked two jobs, my whole life. Two jobs and school. Two jobs and relationships. Two jobs and family. At the end of the summer I am leaving my second job so that I can write more and read more and sleep. I will make less money, but I will have more time for me. I think, Am I worth it? Am I worth it? Is my work worth my own time?

She also writes about the financial mathematics that dominate adult lives:

Mostly my lists look like this: a list of my dream items, a list of my outstanding debts, a list of my recurring bills, a list of household items to buy, a list of groceries. I feel like an adult and responsible and on top of things when I cross items off of my list, but the crossing is slow. There are things I won’t spend money on anymore—namely, manicures, pedicures, or the salon. Luxuries have long gone out of the window. Instead, I remember having health insurance is a luxury, being employed is a luxury, having an apartment that is mine all mine and being able to keep the rest of the world out is a luxury. There are days when I come in this house and take a nap because I don’t have the answers or the funds or the energy to think about it anymore.

And then, in Part V, she gives us a chart of her writing income and expenses. I love charts. I was so glad to see this chart. It puts her perspective literally into perspective.

So read Kima Jones’ story and then, if you want, we could start a comment discussion about our own “wrath of the math.” Or, we could take our lead from Kima Jones’ “Part III: The Real Question” and talk about how we manage money and food, and whether we have a bag of rice hiding in our cupboards waiting for the truly lean days.

 

Photo: Mario

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