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logistics matter: you have to get the food home before you can get it on the table

Posted by on Sep 20, 2011 in Blog Posts | 35 comments

One thing that I often find public health/food activist folks don’t have much imagination for is the reality of getting food into the home, not just getting it on the table. It’s one thing to say, “eat 5 servings of organic, local fruits and veggies!” and, “get thee to a  farmer’s market!” But, the reality is, not all families own a min-van, have a covered garage, week-end mornings free to wander among the stalls at the market, or even a large fridge and freezer to store foods etc. When we blame parents for making kids fat or skinny, and admonish parents to shop and cook organics when most Americans live in a fresh food dessert, when 1/6 Americans now live below the poverty level (with a higher proportion of children), when soda costs a fraction of what organic milk does, we are often missing the picture, and missing the opportunity to affect change.

I got a glimpse of the logistical issues  in a personal way when we sold our 100 year-old high-maintenance home, with garage and moved into a rental town-home apartment building (which we are loving more than we thought we would and are in no rush to look for another home…) It took some time to figure out a system.

Anyway, shopping looks very different here. We park underground (YAY! No more shoveling!) and I quickly realized that my typical 4-6 bag shopping trips for my family of three now proposed certain challenges. We have a VERY long hallway on the fourth floor, and short of making three trips in our slow elevator, I had to figure out how to get the groceries to our door. So I looked online and found this cart, that cost about $35 (I can’t find the link, it’s from Designs We Need…)  Even then, I have to have cloth bags to fit it, paper bags have ripped, spilling contents on the garage, I have overloaded and bent the cart by trying to roll over an unseen shoe, and buying a replacement would not be a hardship (though it seems to be fine bent back in shape). I also wonder about families with more kids, and growing teens, if I have 4-6 bags easily, per week, how much more food are those families schlepping around?

So, the next time you see a high-rise, or a small rural community, think about how you would shop if you had to take your small child or children with you because you can’t afford childcare, or maybe you have to shop after work, at 8 pm, with kids in tow. Maybe you don’t have a car–  so now try this on a bus, then think about getting those bags on the bus, and your kids, and all of them to the door,  if you were able to get to a grocery store.

Just saying it’s something we should think about, and  many of us who extol the virtues of back-yard garden plots, and organic milk and grass-fed meat might not spend enough time thinking about this. Many of our policy makers don’t think about it either… Maybe we can honor what parents are trying to do. Honor frozen and canned foods, honor as a culture the family dinner hour. Work towards decreasing poverty, making childcare more accessible, meeting families where they are in terms of family meals and food choices, subsidizing food items like milk and fresh foods, instead of just focusing on taxing “junk” food, continuing programs that increase the reach of farmers’ markets and making the foods there accessible with food assistance programs… Just a start.

What say you? How has your living arrangement over the years, from logistics to money to childcare shaped what you have been able to eat? What solutions have you found?

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  1. Margaret

    I noticed that many of your comments are not from rural areas. We live on a tree farm (Mississippi Piney Woods area) and to drive into town is about 45 minutes. In our fuel efficient small car. Needless to say there’s a lot of things I don’t buy because I wouldn’t be able to get them home.

    Also, I saw the official food desert map recently, and supposedly there’s not a food desert anywhere near us. I call shenanigans, because it is a long drive for us into town, but supposedly there’s a market within a few miles. I have yet to find this market.

    But back on topic – we can’t even grow more veg than we do because then we wouldn’t be able to get the trees out and honestly, I like to make ends meet than eat “properly” most of the time.

    • katja

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Also interesting that you “don’t” live in a food dessert, but the market is 45 minutes away. Growing your own food takes time and patience and some maintenance of equipment. One year I started seeds, planted some stuff and most of it was eaten by rabbits in the first 24 hours. Our tomatoes mostly got that stem rot condition (something like that) and we live in Minnesota… Thanks again for adding your experience to this important discussion. The comments on this post have been some of the most important on my blog in my eyes…

  2. Amber

    Where I used to live there were trucks selling produce (as well as some processed stuff), but unfortunately only one of the men who owned the trucks accepted food stamps. Those trucks sold most of their foods at lower prices than the stores in the neighborhood as they had to get rid of the produce by the end of the day according to county regulations.It would be a good idea if all those produce trucks were allowed to take food stamps, or the equivalent like WIC vouchers, as that would really help out a lot of people. Also the owners of the trucks could get rid of most of their produce faster rather than have to toss out the surplus at the end of the day according to their county’s laws.

  3. Jennifer Hansen

    Over at Racialicious there’s an article in the archives about a grandma who took care of all her own grandkids and everyone else’s so that the parents could work their butts off at crappy minimum-wage jobs. The woman telling the story remembers that nobody ever went hungry at Grandma’s, but nobody got fresh fruit either. Because Grandma would have had to get all of those kids onto a bus in order to go to the nearest place that sold fresh fruit.

    I’ve also read/heard about families that are eligible for WIC and don’t get any milk or eggs for the same reason. Even if you “only” have three kids, or one, taking one or two buses to the nearest store that sells milk and eggs with the kid(s) in tow and getting it all home before it spoils may require money for coolers, carts, etc., that just isn’t there.

    And then there’s the recent article about the woman who did do the “good,” “prudent” thing and go shopping for actual food with her kids in tow and bags and bags of groceries. And she had a choice: drag all those kids and all that food an extra half mile along a road that had no sidewalk to go to the nearest marked crosswalk, or cross at the corner next to the bus stop, which was directly across from her house but had no crosswalk. It was safer to take the kids straight home (no sidewalk, remember). Except that there was a drunk driver . . . One of the kids is dead and the mom is facing jail time and loss of her remaining children for the crime of being too noticeably poor.

    I have a question: So we have families who are eligible for WIC, but can’t get it, and we have stores that could use the extra income from the WIC checks, but never see it. Why hasn’t some big store chain sent a van full of WIC-eligible food and a cashless cash register into a nearby food desert? The families get milk, eggs, tuna, bread, carrots, etc., delivered right to their door or at least to their block and the stores get more revenue. Is there some law on the books that would preclude this?

    • katja

      Great idea. Almost like a Kiosk in a convenience store kind of thing? I think we do need to get creative… I don’t know the intricacies clearly of what is and isn’t allowed. I do know there are folks out there working to find solutions. A great resources is FRAC (food research and action center.) They put out a newsletter that you can subscribe to.

  4. Michelle

    Oh, and because I really hate stairs (being a fat lady with stumpy legs), and because my heart arrhythmia (predating my fatness) REALLY hates stairs, I *do* find this set-up difficult and unpleasant a lot of the time.

    I also have, unfortunately, known a lot of people who were poor to the point of not having proper facilities to even store or cook food. So, for people in that situation, the point about being able to buy cheap staple foods to cook instead of processed food is totally moot.

    It’s also moot if you’re too exhausted from working 3 jobs and/or taking care of kids all day to actually cook anything, especially if you never learned to cook when you were young.

  5. Michelle

    Yep, grocery shopping looks WAY different for me (and has, for the past 10 years) than it does for most of my friends and family who live elsewhere.

    I’ve lived in 4-storey walk-ups with no elevator, or high rises, or at least on the second floor with stairs. I have never owned a car. Every bit of grocery shopping I have ever done has been on foot, using a cart. It is not exactly easy-peasy, and I’m always really blown away when I go home to visit my parents – we drift into the enormous parking lot of an enormous grocery store in an SUV, load up an enormous cart full of as many groceries (in ENORMOUS bulk packages that I never see here) as we want, cart them out to the SUV, and drift home where we’re only a few feet from the kitchen to put everything away.

    IT IS AMAZING. If I could live like that, I totally would. But the reality is, I live in an older, big city that is very cramped, has tiny stores, and sells things in small, expensive packages, and I have to walk through rotten weather most of the year just to trudge food home.

    I learned pretty early on that water-heavy foods (like bottles of juice, or big containers of soup, or, YES, many fruits and veggies) make my trip about 100x more difficult. So, when I don’t have my husband along, I have to make hard choices about what I actually have the strength, and space in my little cart, to carry home. “Healthy” foods don’t always top that list.

    Right now, I have the best set-up I’ve ever had in this city: a grocery store directly across the street, and only one flight of stairs that I need to carry things up. This is as easy as it gets in Toronto, unless you have a car and live in a bigger neighbourhood.

    • katja

      I wish I could find the link about the single person living on food assistance. it was brilliant. took like 3 hours of planning and 3 different stores to make the budget. Big bag of oranges for a single person with no storage or who has to lug groceries? Not a money-saver. it is all so fascinating reading and sharing how people make it work, the best they can.

  6. KellyK

    One other thing that I think is useful to add to the discussion is that when we talk about logistics, or money, or anything else that makes it harder to eat a certain way, it’s better to frame it in terms of “challenges” and “priorities” than as things that *prevent* someone from accomplishing a goal. Which isn’t to say that plenty of “challenges” aren’t either insurmountable or difficult enough that they may as well be. But in discussions about food access, any time you say, “People can’t necessarily eat well because of X,” someone will pop back with “That’s no excuse, they should just do Y.” And lots of things can be worked around, put up with, or made to work. But the flip side of that is that nobody is under any obligation to prove to anybody else that they’re “trying hard enough” to overcome whatever obstacles are set in front of them.

    That is, we shouldn’t say it’s impossible to cook in a certain living situation, because there will be people for whom it’s a priority who make it work (and who may have resources or skills that others in the same situation don’t). But we should acknowledge that it can be insanely difficult and work on making it less so.

    • katja

      I love that bit about challenges vs can’t… frees the mind to think of ways of possibly surmounting those challenges…

  7. Ursula

    I really appreciate this discussion. I have lived in the suburbs and also in a third floor walk up in the city. I can sympathize with folks who are talking about the effort and time and physical strength needed to get groceries into the house. Currently I live in a rural area and the nearest full service grocery store is twenty minutes away and the nearest really nice grocery store is 45 minutes away. Luckily for me I also live fifteen minutes away from a full diet CSA that provides enough food to completely feed our family year round. We do supplement (about $20 a week) with other foods to round out our diet. So we are incredibly lucky. It is affordable, there is a sliding scale for members who can’t afford it. We eat entirely organic food, locally grown. So we have the ideal situation. But. The time and effort to prepare and preserve the food is immense. I work part time and stay home with kids so I am able to spend the time it takes to prepare the food. But if I had to work more or if my partner couldn’t help as much as he does with food prep, even with access to all this amazing food we would never be able to do it.

    It saddens me to hear all the judgement out there about parents. It seems that there are so many who have such harsh messages. I read about making our kids fat, not caring enough to eat organic, and on and on and on. But there are so many factors. It is more complicated than that. I greatly appreciate this site for highlighting how complicated it is sometimes and how we all need to begin with what we can do. I remember reading in one of the Satter books that you have to start where you are and if where you are is eating fast food every day then how can how shift that just a little. I think this is true for all sorts of things. All of these shaming messages aren’t doing anything but sending us straight back to the very things that the shamers want us to avoid.

    I think we could use a little more gentleness in the public health arena.

  8. Jake

    I’m so glad you posted this, because I get so frustrated with people’s naivete about the intersection of healthy eating and poverty, ESPECIALLY in middle class, organic-buying communities. It’s fine and good to pressure your peers to spend money at places that have pasture-raised meat, but I hate when people make sweeping generalizations about everyone who shops at Walmart and or goes to McDonalds.

    • katja

      Thanks, Jake
      It is a very complex issue. I liked a previous person’s comment about how “sometimes you just don’t want to eat rice and beans.” I get that. I was so lucky that i had an intact family, and we had a stable home. My mom was thrifty, and she knew how to cook (without a recipe.) She grew up post war-time in germany when there wasn’t much food, so yes, she knew how to make stews and potatoes and carrots, and yes, a bag of those are reasonably priced. I’ll have to find a link I did a while ago about the true cost of food… It was eye-opening. Potatoes take about 20 minutes start to finish from scratch. (At least how I cook them, often leaving on the peal,) in the meantime I’m making other things to go with it. The dishes take at least 20 minutes after to do, and we have a dishwasher. I think my point was, there is a lot that goes into it. I would LOVE to see a reality show where the Kardashians live on food-stamps and get one unreliable vehicle per family. I think Morgan Spurlock and his girlfriend did this on 30 days. I’ll have to find a link…

  9. DeeLeigh

    I live in a Victorian tenement building, in a third floor walkup (no elevators in this type of building…) I do have a car, and there’s usually street parking within a block. The ceilings are high, so there are 50 steps up to the flat – it’s not a completely trivial climb. I use reusable shopping bags. They’re roomier and easier to carry than the plastic ones, and I can walk up the stairs with two in each hand. When I do a big shop, I start by carrying the bags into the bottom of the close (the public stairwell), making multiple trips if necessary. Then, I carry all of them up to the first landing, going up and down a single flight. Then, I do the same thing with the second flight. That way, I don’t get out of breath carrying heavy bags up all the stairs at once. The outside door locks and we know everyone in the close, so there’s no problem leaving the bags on the at the bottom of the stairs or on the landing for a few minutes.

    Honestly, though, I do more frequent, smaller shopping trips now. This neighborhood has mini supermarkets, produce markets and convenience stores within walking distance, I do most mid-week shopping trips on foot, and weekend trips are often small enough for me to carry the bags up in one go.

    Although bringing the food in is more difficult than it was when I lived in a detached house with a driveway, it’s not that big a deal. It’s actually easier than I expected. Now, if I was disabled it would be a different story. I guess I wouldn’t be living here if that was the case, though, because the flat is only accessible by those stairs.

    I’ve always had mixed feelings about the arguments that say poor people can’t afford healthy food or don’t have time to prepare it. I’ve been poor at various times of my life, and I’ve been able to feed myself a fairly healthy diet on a low food budget. No, I don’t bother with organic or freerange when I’m on a strict budget. However, I tend to think that whole foods and fresh produce are always a lot more healthy than processed foods, even if they’re not specially labeled. I know how to cook and can work with whatever happens to be cheap and readily available, which usually means local and in season. We just need to make sure kids learn how to cook – for real, not by recipe.

    • katja

      DL, Thanks again for sharing! I love your comment about teaching kids to *cook* without a recipe. An important skill to be able to look at what is in the fridge and pantry and come up with something that tastes pretty good, without fresh dill or cilantro, or a pinch of All Spice… I find so many recipes have too many ingredients, and rely on non-staples. When we moved, I literally had two laundry baskets full of sauces and condiments. Spices were another box. I imagine the cost for those was close to 500 total, probably more. Again, something we don’t often think about. I imagine you grew up in a home with cooking, and family meals? Yes, a bulk bag of potatoes are cheap, but heavy. I love so many of the posts here. So helpful to hear people’s stories… In our old neighborhood, we had a small coop and then, I too would walk there twice during the week for the fresh ingredients. I loved it. They moved… I too have mixed feelings. I also like to call it dissonance, and when I feel that, that has been my guide to learn more. Thanks again for sharing!

      • DeeLeigh

        Actually, I grew up in a home where both parents could cook but didn’t always have time and then, starting a 11, a food insecure single parent home where I had to do a lot of the cooking myself. I knew how to cook the basics by 11, and I taught myself the rest.

        • katja

          thanks for clarifying. You would have so much to share, if the folks who make policy would listen to people who are figuring out how to deal with the challenges etc…Maybe it’s providing grocery carts for folks who have to walk,or hooks in an area on the bus where you can hang up a grocery bag. I don’t know, but I imagine we could all come up with some pretty amazing suggestions. This could be another post. How did you learn to cook kind of thing!

      • DeeLeigh

        Oh, and herbs and spices are important to my cooking. I buy them in bulk and put them into sealed jars. I have about 30 different dried herbs and spices, but I only paid $1-$2 each for pretty large quantities.
        I don’t buy a lot of pre-made sauces, and that saves me money. I make my own french style sauces, rouxs, yogurt-based sauces, tomato based sauces, curries, salsas, stir fry sauces, salad dressings, and gravies with a few basic ingredients that I always have on hand (lemon and lime juice, canned tomatoes, oil, vinegar, yogurt, milk, butter, flour, fish sauce, soy sauce & my herbs and spices).
        I also keep flours, dried pea and beans, rices, nuts, and oats in sealed jars. One thing I look for in a place to live is a place to store all my spice and carb jars.
        I use a lot of cheap canned tomatoes. I can turn a medium chicken into three meals for two, gravy, and a half gallon of stock. I love cooking!

        • katja

          great tips! Yes, bulk herbs are a huge money saver! I do that too. I make my spaghetti and stir-fry sauces, but I still have things like worcestershire, terriyaki, soy, fish sauce, hot sauce, broth jar, BBQ, ketchup, miracle whip, mayo, two mustards, red chile paste…it just surprised me to see them all boxed up! My hub and I have tried making dried beans many, many times, and we always perfer the predictability of canned… I learned to make chickpeas in a crock pot from my Indian friend, but it stinks the place up so much to do that overnight that I quit 🙂 It is so fun to experiment and learn. I love cooking too, but even then some nights I throw in the towel and we eat out. I think tonight we will try the new Ethiopian place down the block. That’s one cuisine I would LOVE to learn to cook!

  10. librarychair

    My partner and I have this problem. Fortunately we have a grocery store 5 blocks away. We got a foldable grocery cart to haul things in. We fill it up. It’ll hold about the same amount as a regular shopping cart filled just to the top, and it gets pretty heavy and it’s kind of awkward to push since it doesn’t steer. Additionally, the sidewalks between our house and the grocery store are full of bumps, and a two inch crack in the sidewalk turns into a bit of a pain when you’re trying to pull something over it… not to mention the poorly cleared (or not cleared at all) snow in the winter.

    When we go to the Aldi (which, while not my favorite place, is financially necessary, a lot of the food there is SO much cheaper) we have to take the bus, and we both take our backpacks and fill them up. This involves riding on the (crowded) bus with full (very heavy) backpacks balanced on our laps and walking another four blocks to our house. We do one or the other of these things about once every 1.5 weeks.

    I used to live in a 4th floor walk up apartment just a couple doors down, and fill up my backpack once a week. In any of these situations I am usually the one doing the bulk of the “hauling” since my partner has hip dysplasia and I have a bit more upper body strength. After each grocery trip I can pretty much plan on being moderately exhausted, to at the very least have to sit down for a few minutes and drink a glass of water before doing anything else. AND THEY SAY FAT PEOPLE DON’T EXERCISE.

    We’re about to get food assistance *crosses fingers*. This is pretty exciting for a number of reasons, especially having to do with our interpersonal dynamic, which I won’t get into in depth here. Just to say that my partner has been buying ALL the food for the past few months because I couldn’t pay for any of it, and doing ALL the cooking because I’m afraid to ask for the use of predestined vegetables. BRIDGE CARD MEANS I GET TO COOK AGAIN YAY.

    • katja

      good luck, I hope the food assistance comes through! Another great point about how food, money, nurturing can affect our relationships with one another as well. Thank you for sharing and helping others understand.

  11. sarah

    What a breath of fresh air this is. I recently got into a disagreement about this very topic with some judgmental friends but wasn’t able to word my argument quite as well as you have here. I think I’ll be linking this post on a couple of my favorite Mom message boards now. 🙂

    Twistie, you hit the nail on the head here: “It’s not just knowing that fresh food is better. It’s also about having the access, storage, time, and skills. And if you don’t have access, it doesn’t matter what else you do have on that list. Without access, the rest of it doesn’t mean squat.”

  12. Twistie

    When I was first married and moved to the town I now live in, the apartment we rented had a lovely kitchen with a gas stove… and in the entire eight years we lived there, the oven never worked once and we had a maximum of three working burners on a four-burner stove. It was down to one by the time we left.

    On top of that, I don’t drive (never have). There was no grocery store within walking distance of our apartment, either. There were half a dozen liquor stores and a Quickie Mart, but no supermarket or even mom and pop grocery. Ironically enough, the local farmer’s market was located between two of the liquor stores… but it only ran once a week in good weather during the spring and summer. Half the year, I could only get fresh fruits and veggies when Mr. Twistie was available to drive me to the supermarket across town.

    And waiting for that to happen… let’s just say that he worked full-time with a lot of overtime, moonlighted as a recording engineer and small time audio guru, visited and did handywork for his aging mother across town, gigged with two bands, and… well… was nearly everywhere but home 93.6% of the time. Perhaps once or twice a month I could get to an actual grocery store.

    Needless to say, without access, means of cooking the way I like (I bake and roast all the time, so no oven was Hell for me in a big way!), or someone to cook for, I wound up eating a lot of frozen dinners heated up in the microwave, fast food (I might not have been able to get a pound of hamburger, but there were four fast food chains, two cheap greasy spoon diners, an independent pizza parlor, and a deli within easy walking distance of my apartment), and meals I just plain skipped. Yes, it was bad for me. Yes, I knew it. No, there wasn’t a lot I could do about it.

    Now I live in a lovely Victorian house with a good-sized kitchen and a brand-spanking-new top-of-the-line gas stove. I’ve got five working burners and a five cubit foot oven to play with. I have large amounts of good cooking and baking equipment, scads of counter space (when I unearth it all!), and plenty of time, since I work from home. I get weekly deliveries of high-quality organic, locally grown produce right to my front porch. I have an excellent small, local grocery two blocks away complete with a serious butcher’s counter and fresh-baked bread. Mr. Twisitie may still be insanely busy, but he’s home a lot more often and I can get to a large supermarket at least two or three times a month.

    Guess who’s having a blast cooking now? But it’s all about the fact that I now have access to the things I need. I have storage, transportation, deliveries, access to good food within walking distance, and just enough cash to pay for feeding us. But I will never forget what it was like NOT to have most of those things, all at once.

    It’s not just knowing that fresh food is better. It’s also about having the access, storage, time, and skills. And if you don’t have access, it doesn’t matter what else you do have on that list. Without access, the rest of it doesn’t mean squat.

  13. Jess

    I’ve lived in walk-ups as well as more convenient apartments over the past 10 years; schlepping the groceries in from the car is always a bit of a drag, regardless of the arrangement. Now I have two kids and a station wagon and the logistics of everything (not just grocery shopping, also childcare, commuting, etc.) are insane. I have a tremendous commitment to healthy eating and cooking with and for my family every day; I also have a lot of skills and resources to draw on and I personally find cooking relaxing. That being said, it’s still tough to produce delicious and nutrition meals day in and day out and there certainly are nights when I just make spaghetti with jarred sauce and call it a day. When I contemplate how hard it must be for single moms or folks who are otherwise exhausted and stretched thin, it’s mind boggling.

    The time costs of grocery shopping and cooking, as well as the skills required for cooking are one of the most overlooked aspects of the relationship between socioeconomic status and diet. A lot of people say, “Well, beans and rice are cheap, spaghetti is cheap, frozen veggies are cheap” but they’re assuming people know how to shop for healthy groceries and what to do with them once they have them. Culture and family history is a huge factor. If people didn’t grow up with family meals or never learned how to cook or have to ride the bus 30 minutes to get to a grocery store, it’s not helpful to say, “Why can’t you just use some frozen veggies to whip up a stir fry!” or “Beans and rice is cheaper than McDonalds!”

    That’s why I think the most valuable things we can do as a society are change the food culture and food environment: make sure people have access to fresh fruits and veg, teach kids about gardening, cooking and eating competence in school, stop selling junk food to kids in school in order to make money, teach families on WIC and other public assistance how to menu plan, shop and prepare foods. Those things are much harder than just preaching at people about calories, but I’d hope they’d be more effective.

    • katja

      EXCELLENT points. I too feel overwhelmed just thinking about how this would be for a stressed-out single parent with money, housing worries etc. Here is an example of something. I was at a WIC conference and was SO impressed by their set-up in the clinic. A chef, who was an excellent Spanish speaker and another chef had set up a beautiful table with samples of all the different melons that were WIC approved, and several easy recipes with WIC ingredients. Chicken baked with crushed corn flakes for example, a banana muffin, a home-made egg-muffin etc. It was all so positive and affirming-until- the woman chef, showed a mom how to make an egg in the microwave for the muffin sandwich and then (literally) wagged her finger in the moms face and scolded in poor Spanish, “no mas comid rapido!” (forehead slap…) It was so patronizing, and ruined what was otherwise a shining example of respectful sharing of food and information… What do you think?

      • Agnes

        Plus, let’s face it, a lot of nights you might not feel like rice and beans. I have a flexible job, make decent money, have a car, and all that… and there are plenty of nights when I just want to order a pizza, and quite a few when I do. I can’t imagine being a single mom or taking care of an elderly parent, or being on my feet all day, and then coming home enthused about low-fat, high-protein food. Sure, there are lots of tasty recipes, but they tend not to be as immediately appealing as pizza or ice cream. I’m sure I would feel more than justified in giving myself a treat now and then, or daily, and the quick, cheap, and easy one is going to be food.

        • katja

          yes, the emotional is such a part of it. I know some days I just don’t want to cook or mealplan and I have the option of ordering out, and it can be healthier fare. This is so complex. I am really happy we are having a discussion.

        • KellyK

          I don’t think healthy and low-fat are automatically synonymous. Sure, most fast food has more fat than is optimal for most people, but you crave fatty foods when you’re hungry and tired in large part because your body needs those calories.

          So I think one of the keys is to not make “healthy eating” about all the things you shouldn’t eat, but about taking good care of yourself both physically and emotionally. That can definitely include pizza, or deep-frying something, or cooking with butter and cream.

          I think we need to honor the fact that people who work physically demanding jobs will need to eat differently than people who spend their days at a computer, and that physical and emotional comfort is a valid part of eating, although it isn’t the only part and you can mess up your relationship with food by making it your main source of emotional solace.

          • katja

            Yes, yes and yes. healthy and low-fat are not synonymous. We know that food insecurity changes physiology, and when food access is in doubt, we do tend to look for big bang for the buck foods so to speak, high energy…Great points!

  14. KellyK

    Living with another person and having a job that isn’t mentally and emotionally exhausting have made a huge difference in how I eat. When I was single, I was renting a trailer with a small kitchen. I did cook some, but it was frustrating I would buy food and have it go bad, or make a big batch of soup and get thoroughly sick of it before I used it up. I also had a lot of evenings where the last thing I wanted to do between teaching and grading papers was cook.

    Right now, the main challenge is the size of our kitchen. It’s not tiny, but it’s hard to find space for all our spices, dry goods, pots, pans, and everything else.

    One thing that I found that helps us is doing meal-planning on the weekend and doing one big grocery shopping trip, then picking up odds and ends, particularly fresh produce, the day we plan to use it or the next. Getting massive quantities of meat when it goes on sale and keeping it in the chest freezer helps too.

    • katja

      Oh, I so miss my chest-freezer! That made life easy in terms of buying meats on sale, breads, cooking in batches…


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  2. This Week in Fat Blogging | Manolo for the Big Girl - [...] of my personal favorite blogs, Family Feeding Dynamics, has a great two-part series on food insecurity and how it…