Food

Baby Carrots, Evil or The Most Evil?

POINT: Baby carrots are the devil, argues generally sensible dad writer Brian Gresko. They cost more, waste more, and perpetuate the fiction that our food does not come from the ground.

The name “baby carrots” seems apt, not just because they look like baby versions of carrots, but because they infantilize the consumer, who has only to open the bag and start munching without a care in the world.

And don’t get him started on juice boxes:

According to PBS Kids, juice boxes are built from six layers of paper, polyethylene plastic, and a thin layer of aluminum. They also, of course, come with plastic straws. The plastic in these packages will likely take at least 300 years to break down, though that’s a conservative estimate.

The contents of the boxes don’t get much better, as many juice brands are loaded with sugar. AsEveryday Health reports, sugary drinks lead to an increased risk of obesity and diabetes, and establish taste preferences for sweet beverages in young children that may get out of hand when they enter their teenage years. (On top of this, Dr. Oz caused a stir in 2011 when he found certain apple juices contained high levels of arsenic.) Kids who drink a lot of juice are avoiding healthier fluids like milk and water.

COUNTERPOINT: Fine, juice boxes, whatever, but baby carrots taste better than the regular kind. I don’t know why but they do! Is it the chlorine? Or the convenience?

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Early Bird Special

A friend of mine recently told me about a new Sunday ritual of his: He and his girlfriend like to have a late breakfast, and then they skip lunch and have a dinner at 5:30 p.m. at a place of their choosing. There is never a wait, no matter where they want to go, he explains, and they get to be home at a reasonable hour before starting the workweek.

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My Last $100: Turning 24 Like a Boss

I turned 24 last Tuesday, which (I think) means that I am no longer in my early twenties so I should probably stop shopping at Forever 21 and eating beef jerky for breakfast.

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The Ultimate Hummus Showdown

If someone were to construct a food pyramid of my diet, hummus would definitely be one of its foundational layers. I’ve dutifully carted a hummus and cheese sandwich to work for nearly four years. I get the hummus plate from the local Greek place when my office orders out. Why branch out from something so versatile, filling and widely accessible?

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Born in the USA — on a Commune in Tennessee

Erika Anderson writes about being born on The Farm, the commune in Tennessee made famous by midwife Ina May Gaskin – and led, in “counter-cultural” but still patriarchal fashion, by Ina May’s husband. (#BanMen) What is a personal reflection about the pros and cons intentional living in the rural south doing in Vanity Fair? Who cares? If you’ve ever been curious about small-scale socialism, this is an essay for you:

Life on the inside had its charms and quirks. A Farm store operated like community-supported agriculture; I remember each house getting a box of cooking oil, Ajax, a bar of soap, margarine, salt, and seasonal vegetables, except most couldn’t supplement these with trips to a grocery store. Noodles and peanut butter were forbidden treasures for us, things my dad might buy with his weekly allowance to feed his masonry crew, since anyone who worked off The Farm had additional, necessary privileges.

While we were growing up, there was no refrigeration, but there were telephones and a laundromat. To get in line, you placed a call first thing in the morning so you could wash clothes for your entire house, which might hold a single family or 50 people. “It was a lot like calling in to win a prize at a radio station,” my mom told me, laughing. ““You are caller number four!’” Within minutes, all 15 spots would be full.

While men worked in the fields, or off The Farm to earn money, women had weekly or biweekly “house days.” One or two women would look after the kids in their home, make meals and do the laundry if they could. Then they would spend the other days of the week working in the community, outside the home. “I got to have a varied life,” my mom has said. “That was one of the things you missed when you moved away. But it was the only thing you missed.” That and friends, who had all but become family.

There’s also Lauren Groff’s novel Arcadia, about communal New York State living in the ’60s, if you want more.

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Link Roundup!: Popcorn Secrets; Theme Weddings; Return of the King (Bloomberg)

+ All you need to make air-popped popcorn: a microwave; some kernels; a brown paper bag. Cheap and delicious.

+ Theme weddings! Pro or con? The wedding my little family went to this past wedding was at a camp, and the theme of all camp weddings is “let’s pretend we’re kids again, or at least young 20-somethings, and don’t mind cold outdoor showers.” Other themes are more elaborate and, potentially, controversial. But how could anyone argue against Mexican “Star Trek”?

Up until two years ago, I, myself, had never had the privilege of attending any wedding with a theme other than “whoops, she’s pregnant” or “might as well.” Besides going to a lot of weddings, I’ve also been married twice. My first wedding was to a nice dude I met at 21 and married at 22. The wedding was themed “let’s get married.” In August of 2012, I planned on marrying for the second time. This time around I was 30 years old and marrying my partner of the previous five years. After the proposal, it took us maybe 20 minutes to decide on what sort of party to plan. We agreed upon the one thing that always brought us together as a couple, gave us great joy and happiness through the years, and defined us both as human beings. No, it wasn’t a Bruno Mars song or a certain kind of flower. It was Star Trek. We both love THE FUCK out of Star Trek. And since I am from a Mexican family and there is no way I could get married without the inclusion of mariachi music and Mexican food, we decided to have a Mexican Star Trek wedding and call the theme “Trek Mex.” …

Star Trek-themed attire was suggested, but absolutely not required. The only rules were have a good time and if you are white and choose to come as a Klingon DO NOT DO SO IN BLACK FACE. More people than expected showed up in all sorts of costumes. My dad wore a Worf mask that he refused to take off for all of our family photos. 

+ Michael Bloomberg is back in at Bloomberg LP. Yay?

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Are Family Dinners Anti-Feminist?

What could be more wholesome than a family gathered together to eat a home-cooked dinner around a kitchen table? Thanksgiving in miniature reenacted on a daily basis! Helping us soothe not merely our bellies and but our souls, and bond, parents and children alike, as we carve time from our hectic, digitally-connected-yet-solitary lives to reconnect with one another, to speak face to face and share the same simple pleasures, eating and drinking in tandem. Who could have an argument with family dinner? Amanda Marcotte at Slate, of course. Motto: If it weren’t contrarian, it wouldn’t be Slate.

The mothers they interviewed had largely internalized the social message that “home-cooked meals have become the hallmark of good mothering, stable families, and the ideal of the healthy, productive citizen,” but found that as much as they wanted to achieve that ideal, they didn’t have the time or money to get there. Low-income mothers often have erratic work schedules, making it impossible to have set meal times. Even for middle-class working mothers who are able to be home by 6 p.m., trying to cook a meal while children are demanding attention and other chores need doing becomes overwhelming.

Money is also a problem. Low-income women often don’t have the money for fresh produce and, in many cases, can’t afford to pay for even a basic kitchen setup. One low-income mother interviewed “was living with her daughter and two grandchildren in a cockroach- and flea-infested hotel room with two double beds,” and was left to prepare “all of their food in a small microwave, rinsing their utensils in the bathroom sink.” Even when people have their own homes, lack of money means their kitchens are small, pests are hard to keep at bay, and they can’t afford “basic kitchen tools like sharp knives, cutting boards, pots and pans.”

OK, so, this is indisputably true. My own (type A, perfectionist) upper-middle-class mom made herself crazy working full-time and then rushing home to prepare and serve dinner every night, including a fancy meal with guests on Fridays. It was one of many ways to she sacrificed her sanity on the altar of The Family, and one of the many reasons I was like, hell no am I gonna be a mom. Maybe a dad, since my dad mostly got to read the paper while chaos whirled around him. But a mom? HA.

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The Best Things in Life Are Free (Food)

It isn’t until I am actually standing in front of the dumpster that I begin to understand what we’re doing.

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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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