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Monday, July 18, 2011

Why Is Vegetarianism So Expensive? Why Do You Have to Buy 10 for $10?

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2011 at 8:15 AM

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Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.

1. Why is vegetarianism so expensive? The L.A. Times ran a pun-friendly article from a mostly vegetarian woman (actually pescatarian) who complains that, although meat takes more money and energy to produce, her faux chicken costs twice as much as the real thing and the veggie combo she orders at her local Mexican joint costs as much as the carnitas platter. I'm with her on the latter point, but if she wants to eat processed hot dogs, she's welcome to complain about them in the privacy of her own home. (It also reminded me of 2009's great Riverfront Times feature on the ethics issues surrounding highly processed meat substitutes.) Do read the comments, by the way.

2. Why am I buying 10 cans of tuna for $10? The New York Times discovers that when you spot a "buy six for $8.99" deal, you don't have to buy six to get the sale price. (That's the kind of sharp reporting that earns my subscription.) The reason we're seeing so many of these multiple deals, the Times reports, is that manufacturers and grocery stores have found they're the only way to get recession-conscious shoppers to break away from their shopping lists and buy more. The impulse buy, it seems, is dead.

3. Have you been reading Salon? For the past few months, Salon has been running food stories by Felisa Rogers, who moved to a rural Northwest town to survive the recession and has been scrambling to put food on the plate by foraging, relying on gifts from family and neighbors, and eating as cheaply as she can. It's a beautifully written series, and the urgency behind her writing -- if I don't go hunting for oyster mushrooms, I'll have nothing to eat with my last pack of noodles -- puts lie to the notion that eating seasonally and locally is all about status. It's a good reminder that for most of the world, for most of our history, eating anything you can find outside your house was all about survival.

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