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Jun 14, 2009 06:59 AM

The New Chicken Economy

How is this awful economy affecting your food spending decisions?

From today's NY Times magazine

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  1. I didn't shop and eat like that in the good times. And the nonchalant food waste! The family bought expensive "sustainable" products but don't realize that such waste is not sustainable globally?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      Exactly my thoughts... Such lack of care about expense and (worse) waste.
      The author seems a little lofty about his purchasing style, and doesn't accurately evaluate the impact of his family's actions.
      I guess such realizations are positive aspects of this economy, and I hope that enlightened people will maintain their newly found habits even after their bank accounts have replenished.

    2. Some people have too much money and too little sense, others exist to correct one of those problems.

      1. Dexter is a dolt! First thing: SOMEONE in that family needs to learn to shop responsibly. NOW! Second: Someone in that family needs to learn how to cook. Just about any experienced cook could have told him (or whoever roasted the chicken) that a seven pound chicken is not, by definition, a young bird! I was so put out with the rank stupidity of the article, I couldn't finish reading it. Incredible. And the New York Times publishes him????

        3 Replies
        1. re: Caroline1

          Caroline1, you are correct.
          Perhaps the Times is unique in printing drivel of this kind.
          The author should have been too embarrassed to display his ignorance.

          On a personal note i see no great merit in free range /organic anything.
          Whole chickens at my local market are .69 per pound today and regularly.
          Now supermarket chickens may not be the choice of all. BUT
          They are my choice and i get MANY compliments on my cooking.

          Thanks for calling it as you saw it!

          1. re: mr jig

            Sadly, the NYT doesn't consider it "drivel" and the author isn't alone in this world detached from the reality of ordinary people.
            In their "false consensus," they think that because all of the people that they associate with live like this in New York and agree with them, that this is how the world IS or SHOULD be.

            He didn't buy the only $35 chicken in New York or the only $14 milk. Even if the milk were less expensive, lots of people allow their kids to drink unlimited amounts of juice or milk or whatever. They don't feel like making use of perfectly good leftovers and throw out unconscionable quantities of perfectly usable food. To them, Trader Joe's is slumming it.
            Some of his attitudes do translate down to people at lower levels who spent less but were still wasteful.
            There is a market for all of this and others who share his thinking. For all of us who are shocked, there are probably lots of NYT readers who identify. The recession has really hit them hard, hasn't it?
            My heart is bleeding....

          2. re: Caroline1

            Uh, Caroline, it was a 5lb bird at $7 a lb. Five pounders aren't necessarily very old.

            And throwing it out! You can always find something useful to do with chicken meat. no matter how dry or tough.

          3. The author of this article is an idiot. Throwing away a chicken? Paying $14 a gallon for milk? Letting his kid drink half a gallon of the stuff every day? I buy most of our meat and produce at the local farmers' markets, but not a thing gets wasted.

            4 Replies
            1. re: pikawicca

              I dont have much in common with Dexter, however I DO know people that shop without looking at the prices or stop to consider freshness or value, and it makes me nervous and run after them with coupons. These are intelligent, caring people with zero shopping savvy (and act as if they grow money in pots!!).

              If Dexter were my husband coming home with a $7 a pound chicken, he would need to figure out how to make that chicken last for many, many meals. Bad enough I live with NOAH who is constantly buying TWO of EVERYTHING even if it's crap we don't use "Honey why did you buy two jars of marinated mushroom salad? " "Because I like it."
              "Do ya? I hope so because you bought-lemmie see, 2 GALLONS of it."

              1. re: Boccone Dolce

                <If Dexter were my husband...>

                If Dexter were your husband, $7/lb chickens would be the least of your worries. Dexter is four years old.

                1. re: small h

                  Speed reading is a curse.

                  1. re: Boccone Dolce

                    Time for that Evelyn Wood refresher course!

            2. I went to the farmers' market with a friend yesterday and had total sticker shock - granted, that is significantly due to having spent the last 2 years in a developing nation paying 25 cents a pound for potatoes, but still.

              My friend bought three handfuls of sprouts for $4 and a bag of peas - maybe a pound not much more for $6, which she admitted was expensive but she feels good doing it and sort of shrugged it off with a 'I'm going to spend the money somewhere, might as well be on good food'. I guess there are still plenty of people who value the feel-good factor enough to pay those inflated prices. I love the idea of farmers markets, but maybe I spent too many years in my 20's struggling or maybe just a different upbringing than my friend but I have a really hard time paying that much for produce, even if it is organic and the cute farmers are flirty on Saturday mornings.

              4 Replies
                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  When I read about those kinds of prices at a Farmer's Market, I shudder. I know growers need to make ends meet, too, but inflated prices may well lead to the failure of farmer's markets. I lived in Stanwood, north of Seattle, for five and a half years. I don't believe that peas have to go for six dollars a pound at a farmer's market. Hells bells! Skagit county must grow half the peas frozen in the U.S. (I wonder what small growers using the growing techniquea advocated by Jeavons are getting for their produce. Can anyone from Round Valley chime in on current market prices?)
                  But to go back to the main topic of the thread, I agree that NY TIMES article is an embarrassment. People need to learn how to shop and how to cook. And except for the very poor--whose needs are another topic I am passionate about--thrifty kitchens needn't signify boring eating or poor nutrition. I should think thrift would lead to greater variety.
                  I grew up in a family with nine kids. My mother was a dietician. We didn't have fancy food, but we ate well.
                  Still, I think for some, avoiding spoilage of food and the danger of over buying is a factor. For nine of my years in Rome, I lived near the market at Piazza Alessandria. Our community numbered 25 and bought directly from the wholesale suppliers, but I used to walk through market just for the pleasure of all that was sold in the different stalls. In our neighborhood, you could have the freshest ingredients daily. There was no need for a large refrigerator or freezer. Most homes did not have them. And daily shopping that locally hardly took more time than our weekly trips to Costco and the local wholesale produce market in D.C. Not that I object to a freezer. When fruits and vegetables are abundant in the summer, it makes sense to freeze or can them for winter. But local markets and canning and freezing won't save any money at all if you don't know how to shop and don't know how to cook a meal or calculate portions.
                  Still, I hope the economy is pushing people in the direction of eating "low on the hog." Let's just hope the supermarkets don't push those prices up too.

                  1. re: Father Kitchen

                    Thanks, Sam!

                    It's a tough call on farmers markets. I agree with all the ideals, it's just a little bit too hard to swallow that that is the real cost of food. My parents have always had a huge garden and I know there will be plenty of good stuff in season, all I have to do is visit - not organic and it does cost them especially in time and energy, but why would I pay $6 a pound when I'll be able to stand in the back yard and pick my own next week? A rare luxury, I know.

                    I want there to be some happy medium between the way we treat and pay conventional farm labor now and the farmers markets where you need to dip into your trust fund/401k/credit line to buy sunday dinner. Can there be a reasonable compromise?

                    1. re: babette feasts

                      Sometimes, when I see my friends spending $5/lb on fruit, I think it's a precious lot to pay. But then I think "hey, it's better than $5 on a frappuccino," which most of them considered the height of luxury until recently. At least the fruit won't make them obese.