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Can " Poor People" eat healthy ?

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I was watching a panel of so called " Food Experts " with one remarking that the poor can't afford to eat healthy . She insinuated that the only options are fast foods with the deals ,coupons etc. I disagree . Coming from a poor working class background we ate good and healthy .With a plentiful variety of legumes,fresh green vegetables ,tomato's ,peppers ,pasta grains and olive oil. All mentioned are still available . In the chain supermarkets almost everywhere .The variety of beans and greens are expanding so that items such as boc choy ,fava beans ,and arrugala can be purchased in one store. Bye the way peasant foods are now called health food.Healthy soups can be made on the cheap at home anyway what say you ???

  1. I would submit that the links between poverty and a poor diet have more to do with issues of poverty restricting education and access not simply the notion that healthy food is too expensive. Knowing what to buy, where to buy it, and how to prepare it are the true barriers.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MGZ

      ... to which i would add time poverty as well.

      1. re: foiegras

        For some, especially the homeless, there is no location to prepare the food. If you don't have electricity, you can't plug in your stove, oven, slow cooker, rice cooker, or even a hot plate. Those living in beach parks or out in the country in impromptu homeless encampments often have small hibachis, but even they require charcoal which is expensive. When you don't have a refrigerator in which to store food, you rely on a cooler to keep food from spoiling (requiring ice, also expensive). I don't think either charcoal or ice can be paid for in food stamps. Almost all meals have to be made shortly after you purchase your groceries. Canned foods are the exception, but even many of them require heating.
        Having said that, I believe that many of the poor do eat healthy. Like the OP, we were poor when I was younger but had a vegetable garden, chickens for the eggs and to kill for their meat, and also grew beans. We did have a house, though, so we had all the modern conveniences (such as they existed back in the day).

    2. The majority of the so-called Third World lives on a subsistence diet: grains, vegetables, seafood, meat when they can afford it. It's only when they emigrate to so-called First World countries that their diet shifts to meat-centric, protein- and fat-rich foods. Rising affluence usually leads to rising obesity and unhealthy lifestyles. Go to any Latino bodega and you will find lots of grains, legumes, and vegetables and people who know how to prepare them. I will agree that in some urban areas, zoning rules encourage fastfood chain eateries over grocery stores, leading to "food deserts" where access to junk trumps access to healthy eating. Many urban areas try to raise taxes on junk food to make it less attractive, as well as pass bottle bills to raise the price of HFCS sodas (as well as get rid of the garbage that litters the streets). But you also have instances where corner shops have been encouraged to provide fresh vegetables and fruits, only to have to throw them out because nobody was buying them. So there needs to be greater access to healthy foods, but there also needs to be education on how they're prepared. Unfortunately, Home Economics classes seem to have gone the way of the dodo, except in the most affluent communities, where kids can take cooking classes in order to be America's Next Top Chef.

      1. I can't seem to find it, but there was a recent discussion about this very topic, and a number of folks who were on the front line of this issue came forward...it's not JUST money -- availability of ingredients, time to cook, and knowing how to shop and cook are enormous factors, as well.

        5 Replies
        1. re: sunshine842

          This?

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/883644

          1. re: small h

            that's the one -- thanks!

            I cannot imagine how that didn't show up in a search across all boards for Mark Bittman SNAP in the last 30 days, but it didn't.

            1. re: sunshine842

              The thread is locked, so I think "search" pretends it doesn't exist. Nuthin' to see here, move along.

          2. re: sunshine842

            That's prevelent at every level in America. As far as availability is concerned, if the folks really wanted it and would buy constantly, the supermarkets/chainstores/bodegas would stock it. If all the people claiming they want to eat healthier did so, the fast food joints and c-stores would be out of business. It's all just PC noise.

            1. re: mrbigshotno.1

              Please read the discussion small h linked above.

          3. Of course they can. However, in general, the emptier the calorie, the cheaper it is. So it's much easier to eat unhealthy if you're poor.

            DT

            1. Poor people who cook at home can eat healthy. But the breakdown of the poor family has lead to a generation that can only microwave and is addicted to junk food. Somewhere I saw a study correlating poverty with obesity.

              1. Part of the problem (I hear) in some urban areas such as Philadelphia is access to actual grocery stores. there are lots of bodegas and similar stores carrying convenience foods, but selection is limited due to the space limitations.

                21 Replies
                1. re: jujuthomas

                  and the price high, as it's "convenience"

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    when I worked in another part of the city, a supermarket opened on Broad Street near the office. We stopped by because we heard it had a big salad bar, and we were looking for lunch options. the place was mobbed. they actually announced the opening on the news, and said it was one of just a handful of groceries in that area of the city.

                  2. re: jujuthomas

                    I agree, jujuthomas, it really all comes down to what's available in your neighborhood. I live within walking distance of a low priced grocery store that has great prices on fresh food. Without transportation, I can cook good, inexpensive healthy meals. If I want to drive a few miles, I have more variety, and can shop at the big chains that look pretty and cost a lot more.

                    If you don't cook at home, then eating just costs a lot more money no matter where you live.

                    1. re: jujuthomas

                      WOW....I am very familiar with Philadelphia. Like virtually every major city in the US, Philadelphia has cheap public transportation to just about everywhere in the city. You can even bring a small folding cart to hold the bags. For the cost of 1 pack of smokes you can circle the entire city. For the cost of a manicure with the long nails and pretty colors you could circle the city for a week. For the annual cost of a smart phone you could ride for for 3 years.

                      No access to grocery stores....Ha Ha Ha!!!!!!!

                      1. re: Tom34

                        You are fortunate to have public transportation. Many people in this country do not have that type of access.

                        1. re: wyogal

                          Yes, there are many pockets of poor folks in rural areas that don't have good P/T and a lot of thought and planing goes into the shopping trip but none the less they get there and cook what they bring back.

                          The argument of no access to grocery stores for city & suburban folks pure poppycock.

                          1. re: Tom34

                            No, it isn't:

                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_desert

                            1. re: carolinadawg

                              Anybody can make a study support their agenda. With controversial subjects such as this, there is a counter study for every study. Most such studies are not worth the paper their written on.

                              EX: Most college grads are familiar with the Kinsey Sexuality Study. By far the most comprehensive of its kind at the time and touted as the sexual bible by academia for years. Now considered one of the most flawed studies ever done.

                            2. re: Tom34

                              <<The argument of no access to grocery stores for city & suburban folks pure poppycock.>>

                              Whatever helps you sleep thru the night

                              Google it and read. It is is reall and widespread

                              1. re: Tom34

                                Really? I'm in a fairly affluent suburban area and am fortunate enough to have a good job and reliable transportation. But there just is no public transportation. It's not that it's far- it just doesn't exist. I'm 1.7 miles from the nearest supermarket and ride my bike when the whether's nice. But I have to ride in the road (2 fairly busy 4 lanes roads with a fair amount of dump trucks, etc) and I can't imagine doing that with health problems or without child care if I were a single parent. And in the pouring rain or freezing cold? Forget about it. Lack of public transportation isn't "poppycock"... it's reality.

                                1. re: Tom34

                                  And many urban areas are poorly supported by public transportation.

                                  1. re: sr44

                                    Examples?

                              2. re: Tom34

                                Have you actually tried carrying groceries on public transit? Up the stairs, down the stairs, trying not to take up too much space, tired from being on your feet all day, but all the seats are taken... It's great that the transit is available, but that doesn't make it an easy or viable option for buying groceries.

                                1. re: mpjmph

                                  I've ridden around a bit of Philly and have seen very few grocery stores or food markets. Before that market opened, if we wanted to go to the grocery store it was at least a 15 minutes drive - and this was not in center city it was out in a more populous area, with row homes across the street.

                                  I ride transit every day to work, and just carrying my work bags can be a challenge. I've even used it to go to the airport - yuck getting all that stuff on and off the train(s). I can't imagine trying to get to the market, purchase groceries, possibly with children in tow and try to get that all home.

                                  not to mention the unfortunate folks who live in shelters, motels, and boarding houses with no access to cooking facilities, no storage for perishables... so many reasons that for so many folks a box or can of whatever or a dollar meal at the local fast food joint is really the best they can do.

                                  1. re: jujuthomas

                                    I live in a small to medium sized city with really good transit considering our size. I can easily ride the bus to/from work, but riding to the grocery store just isn't realistic. In order to get to the store, I'd have to ride for 45 minute each way, and that would get me to the most expensive store in town. If I want to get to the cheap store, I could add 15 minutes to the ride plus a 1/2 mile walk each way, or I could do a bus transfer (including crossing a 4 lane highway, and a 10-15 minute wait at the transfer stop). The transfer option would take longer, but involve less walking. On top of that, I better get the shopping done in less than 15 minutes to catch the bus home, otherwise I'll have to wait up to an hour to make the transfer schedule work again on the way home.

                                    1. re: jujuthomas

                                      When we had a place in the Pocono's, it was a 1/2 hr each way. As I said before, lot of thought went into making the grocery list.

                                      Rush hour commute is crowded, the rest of the day and night are not.

                                      My wife likes healthy Lean cuisines. Great variety, always on sale and always coupons avail. Nice small box. Prob get 30 or more in a shopping bag. Micro & eat. You do have to open the box though.

                                      1. re: Tom34

                                        I would never consider Lean Cuisines as my definition of "healthy" eating. I eat different varieties of frozen meals when I don't have leftovers from dinners, and I hate myself for it, they're so full of bad processed chemically stuff.

                                        1. re: juliejulez

                                          It's also not cheap eating, as it's currently an indulgence for me. On sale, I can get them for maybe $2.99. There are 3 of us in the family, 3 meals a day, it adds up quickly.
                                          And I agree, julie, I feel guilty when I eat them because they're so processed. I also don't feel full, but I'm sure that's on me.

                                        2. re: Tom34

                                          Please tell me you're not trying to compare food shopping fo ryour vacation house to food shopping for the inner city or rural working poor. You can't be serious. You just can't.

                                    2. re: Tom34

                                      And if you're carrying 2 babies and trying to carry groceries? In the 1 hour you have between jobs?

                                      1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                        "1 hour in between jobs" ......If this is the case I will give it to you, however, we are probably talking 1 in 50.

                                  2. I'm afraid the time has passed when anything could have been done to help the poor ate healthier. Diabetes and obesity are endemic in poor parts of every city. Sugar, wheat and the cheapest forms of fat are basically the staple diet of the poor. The cost to the health care system is exploding accordingly. I don't see there ever being any 'light' in the future.
                                    Truly one of mankind's biggest failures IMO.

                                    1. Yes they can eat "healthy" but it is VERY difficult and time consumming.

                                      There are so many factors that need to be taken into account to try to solve this problem.

                                      - Accessibility to good and cheap products; a lot of area do not have fresh produces, or only in when in season.

                                      - Food education, learn how to cook and prepare those products; learn how to share with friends and family to prepare larger quantities for lunch and for the freezer.

                                      - Time, a lot people just do not have the time to cook properly, they have 2+ jobs and it is easier to grab a bucket of fried chicken or pizza or burger than making a bean soup/stew at home when they come home at 11 at night.

                                      Making soup sounds easy, but it is not;

                                      either you buy a soup base ($$) or you make it yourself (time); people do not have time or money.
                                      You need flavour ? meat ($) or scrap bones from the butcher (cheap, there are no butcher around where you live and it takes time to roast and make the broth) so no-no.
                                      You want beans ? ok, either in cans ($) or dried (time)...

                                      _Nothing_ is easy for poor people.

                                      Max

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: Maximilien

                                        Well said. I would add, too, that food pantries tend to stock shelf-stable carbs that aren't necessarily friendly to folks trying to fend off diabetes or who see eating fewer carbs as a path to health. Dried pastas, sugary cereals, instant mashed potatoes, canned baked (sugary) beans, cookies, etc, abound.

                                        1. re: pinehurst

                                          I've spent a lot of time volunteering at a food bank, which is exactly why I make a point to donate only canned salmon, tuna, beans, and donate meats when I know they have the ability to store perishables. The shelves are loaded with the types of cheap, filling foods that promote obesity and malnourishment at the same time.

                                          1. re: mcf

                                            This is so true. When we can, we try to do the "Donate what you'd want to get" . Proteins are in *such* short supply. Great post.

                                            1. re: mcf

                                              Funny you mentioned food banks. Through the Girl Scouts my daughter and the rest of her troop spend a day working a food bank. After a couple hours, my daughter turned to my wife and asked a very intriguing question: "Mom, if these people are so poor we have to give them free food, how come they all have smart phones and we don't?"

                                              1. re: carolinadawg

                                                +1

                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                  I hope your wife explained that quite a few middle and upper middle income families with jobs lost are experiencing the need for food donations, too.

                                                  And that folks who don't need the food wouldn't be showing up to ask for it?

                                                  I hope your child has an open mind and a variety of experiences that help her to understand that need is often the result of very high medical expenses or job loss or divorce among those who are not bedraggled or living in boxes under bridges and that all in need are deserving of empathy, not suspicion.

                                            2. re: Maximilien

                                              Thanks, Max.

                                              I'd also add that:

                                              1. In many areas, it's not even a matter of fresh or seasonal produce, but edible produce at that. I recall years ago a scandal when it was discovered that suburban Safeways moved expired produce to their urban shops.

                                              2. I'm not even convinced that produce is as inexpensive as people claim.

                                              3. Forget cooking time, there's also matters of shopping time. This is increased when dealing with readily perishable food, and food that is quite possibly on the verge of perishing (see #1) and when dealing with travel time that might be increased by reliance on public transportation. Many cities are not good about this.

                                              4. I'm personally not convinced that the affordable meat and dairy in the U.S. is healthful at all; the agricultural practices in the U.S. are disturbing.

                                              Economies of time, effort, and money all come into play here, and while I think it is possible, I think there needs to be more concern about managing these three issues.

                                            3. It is not a complete answer but there is certainly something of a link between poverty and poor diet.

                                              Recent years have seen the decline of traditional open-air markets and the decline of neighbourhood greengrocers in many areas. That can be a severe limitation to those families who do not have access to their own transport to enable them to easily get to the out-of-town supermarkets which are now often the only choice of a wide range of produce. The related limitation is that the supermarkets are catering to a wealthier customer base and take full advantage of their near monopoly position. It is a simple fact that, if you are poor, you are going to be able to buy less food from the supermarket than you would have been able to do from your local greengrocer. The local shop, well stocked with fruit and vegetables, is now very much a middle class preserve.

                                              1. Sounds like a spawn from the SNAP thread that was locked. Poor people can ABSOLUTELY eat healthy....my great/great grandparents on both sides did it, worked long hours, raised families, and instilled family values, work ethic and responsibility into their kids. The 3rd world scenario upthread is a perfect example. Education? Aside from my father, all were products of public schools and learned the same nutrition basics everybody else did. I think some folks have a stereotype where poor=dumb...it just aint so. People, be they rich or poor, have to WANT to eat healthy...many simply choose not to. The whole Mcd's is cheaper argument is complete nonsense...using that logic, if jack daniel's was priced at a buck per gallon, then nobody would drink water anymore. People make their own choices for their own reasons or priorities

                                                75 Replies
                                                1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                  BiscuitBoy, I hear you. My grandparents (the ones who came from Italy) were dirt poor (there and here), but made it largely because they had a sizable plot of land in a then-pastoral section of Lawrence, MA that they could farm. She put up gallons of pickles, gardinera, tomatoes for the winter. Nonna traded peppers and carrots with the butter-and-egg man so that she could get a few eggs a week. Or she traded watermelons with the butcher down the street for a live chicken, which she killed, butchered, and used down to the beak. All her sons fished and hunted to provide fresh protein. The butter and egg man, milk man, produce man, rag man, all had wagons that made the circuit to all the tenements in the neighborhood weekly.

                                                  Were there the social supports (like SNAP) that exist now? Hell no. But it was a different kind of social support--a culture and an environment in which health self-sufficiency was perhaps even more possible. And my grandma, who was stay-at-home knew how to (and was willing to) trim/butcher/prepare fresh meat. Different times.

                                                  I'm not disagreeing with you, just showing another facet.

                                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                                    <Were there the social supports (like SNA)) that exist now?>

                                                    The CBO just released a statement regarding present government handouts in the US. If a person is making less than $40,000/yr. in wages they can choose to go on different types of government assistance and bring in the same amount. In other words....there's no incentive to work unless a person WANTS to work and stay self sufficient.
                                                    During the Great Depression NOBODY would take any assistance...it's why the depression lasted as long as it did.
                                                    FDR literally doubled the federal government coming up with ways to get people back to work, literally creating jobs....some people took them and other people, and their pride, was too great.
                                                    It's a completely different mentality now. Give people a small plot of space, outside their home, and it's interesting what people do with it. The truly creative will build a garden and become self sufficient and stay healthy. The truly lazy will let it sit there, stay lazy and unhealthy.

                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                      That's great, if someone has a "small plot of space" that can actually support a garden, and the water to make it grow. Water costs money, and in our part of the region, one has to buy or make dirt from compost (which is very difficult in a dry climate without paying for extra water).
                                                      If they cannot garden, they are not lazy. There is much more to gardening then just planting a seed, watching it grow, and collecting the harvest.

                                                      1. re: wyogal

                                                        Everyone can have a space to grow. It takes creativity to find it. Victory gardens, space outside an apartment....it just takes some wherewithal to figure it out. Not everyone has it.

                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                          Space yes, but $$ for soil and water? along with a decent growing season. Nope. I take it you live in an area where one can spit a watermelon seed and it grows. I have gardened in the arid west, and it is difficult, even for those of use with the "wherewithal."

                                                          1. re: wyogal

                                                            I don't know...

                                                            Growing up where there were 4 distinct seasons my mother seemed to be able to do it with a very low budget.
                                                            Of course, she would never think of not raising her children without fresh fruits and vegetables. That was just her.

                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                              Thanks for saying you don't know.

                                                          2. re: latindancer

                                                            Sorry, that just isn't true. I desperately want a garden because I enjoy gardening, and have tried my damdest to make it work. I finally managed to get two tomatoes out of my patio garden last summer, but I think I spent close to $50 for them, not to mention the time commitment for two tomatoes. And I grew up gardening, I know what I'm doing. To make it work, I have to drag gallons of water out to the patio every day (no hose, and it's hot enough here that I have to water daily, sometimes twice). I had to check and spray for aphids almost daily. I lost my entire pea crop to a sudden early season heatwave. The squirrels ate just about everything else I planted. I just isn't easy, and I'm only working one full time job and don't have kids to care for.

                                                          3. re: wyogal

                                                            Read my post carefully....

                                                            I said it 'give people a small plot of space, outside their home'...of course not everyone has it. If given it, though, it's interesting what people will do with it.

                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                              and read mine... a small plot of space, outside their home does not mean that one can actually grow something on it without $$$$$$$.

                                                              1. re: wyogal

                                                                Ready my post carefully, wyogal....

                                                                If a person was GIVEN a spot of space to do whatever they wanted to....would they choose to garden it or let it sit?
                                                                My mother didn't have money for anything...we were considered, by today's standards, below middle class or further down. She did, however, have a ton of strength, creativity, brains and drive. She knew she wouldn't take any hand out and she survived and we ate healthy. She purchased only healthy food...at the end of a paycheck there was money for ice-cream. Every two weeks.
                                                                Things are just different now....people like my mother and her generation rarely exist anymore. People (study the statistics) are more prone to take money that's available and what they do with that money isn't always used for healthy food for their children.

                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                  Again, you don't understand. Not all spots of space are suitable for gardens. And the water doesn't come cheap. Why do you insist that if one has a spot they can garden it? and affordably? Seriously?

                                                                  1. re: wyogal

                                                                    Heck I have a yard and I don't even have a garden. I don't have time for one considering I work a full time job and commute 2 hours a day. Plus I wouldn't even know how to start one let alone maintain it so it actually produces a good yield. Our household income is well into the 6 figures. Just goes back to having the correct resources... time, knowledge, and land.

                                                                    1. re: juliejulez

                                                                      Yes, and here in the west, we will probably be on water rationing again this summer.
                                                                      I found it was much cheaper to go to the guy selling tomatoes from Colorado, set up in the bowling alley parking lot, at the end of the day. I got a great deal on two boxes, went home and froze them. Luckily, we have a deep freeze that my folks gave us. I am fortunate, although not swimming in $$, I do have a car, time, knowledge, and resources. We are very blessed compared to others. very blessed.

                                                                      1. re: wyogal

                                                                        I'm in Colorado myself (NE of Denver) so I totally understand the water rationing. And, I don't know how anybody had a successful garden this past summer...I couldn't even keep my herbs in big pot on my front porch alive. My uncle in Ft Collins managed to do it I guess, but he is retired and spends all day taking care of his garden.

                                                                        1. re: juliejulez

                                                                          Yes, that coupled with the smoky air, it was dangerous to work outside! It was awful last summer, and it's going to be worse this summer. :(

                                                                          1. re: wyogal

                                                                            Eh. People just need to be more creative.

                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                              jeez, I guess.
                                                                              Hmm, no dirt.
                                                                              Too much heat.
                                                                              Too much smoke.
                                                                              No water.
                                                                              I must not be very creative.
                                                                              ;-P

                                                                            2. re: wyogal

                                                                              Yup. We went to a country music festival out in Grand Junction at the end of June, where it was hot as hell but very windy and dusty, and then went to a LaCrosse game at Mile High Stadium downtown on the 4th of July, and I got really really sick, came down with a respiratory infection that took me a month to really get over, even after taking antibiotics and staying home from work for a week. The doctor told me he was seeing it a lot, because of the smoke and dust. I can't imagine voluntarily going outside and spending the day in that air after that.

                                                                              1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                Oh, dear! We escaped in June, drove to the east coast, over to Mesa, AZ, then home. Then to MN. The smoke was horrid. We are in the path of the winds from Utah and the Nevada fires. Our mt. had a horrid burn, too.

                                                                            3. re: juliejulez

                                                                              I suppose everyone's gardening methods are different and climates and zones absolutely have everything to do with outcomes.
                                                                              I've experienced unbelievably beautiful gardening in New Mexico in the high altitudes so I know it can be done effectively....the state is having one of the worst droughts on record but the garden with fruits and vegetables I ate from was quite outstanding. In Utah and the surrounding states gardens are built differently to manage water so it stays in place...learned and taught by natives.

                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                So then, your experience must trump ours.

                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                  I would really be curious to hear about your own home garden. I don't know what USDA zone you're in, so it's hard to know what you've been growing. Do you grow a variety of vegetables, or do you concentrate on the usuals -- tomatoes, peppers, beans, etc.? And do you have the ability to grow fruit as well? How do you manage to divide your garden among the various types of plants. And I would also love to know about how you've adapted your garden to the various areas you've lived in through the years. I think it's so rare to have a real gardener comment on this type of subject, so it would be so instructive to hear how you manage your garden.

                                                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                                                    I have 10 citrus trees, combined orange lemon lime and grapefruit, on a relatively small amount of acreage. I grow peppers, all different types, along with herbs to cook with and give to friends and family. I choose not to grow anything else in my time in life... I have the resources to purchase my fresh fruit and vegetables. I also have 45 rose bushes that I tend and prune and maintain, along with plants that require little water. I have planted my entire garden, by hand, and make sure it's healthy with watering (when I'm allowed) and organic fertilizer(s) that I make myself and feed everything with. I've, by hand, aerated my soil over the years so drainage is excellent and watering is to a minimum compared to all around me who waste theirs. I grow fruits/plants that are indigenous to my area that I know will do well. Are you really interested or do I detect a bit of patronizing? I learned from my parents that gardening is not only lucrative but self fulfilling...good things.
                                                                                    If I lived in an area that was arid and dry I would have gardens built above the ground where erosion isn't an issue. I've learned from natives in the southwest how to build the type of gardens they've used for centuries. It isn't hard.

                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                      So, education is essential then?

                                                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                                                        Isn't everything that's worthwhile?

                                                                                      2. re: latindancer

                                                                                        Above the ground... yes, raised beds do work better, and cost several hundred dollars to put in. One has to buy the soil here. I can't dig up the "dirt" in my yard to use, it won't support a vegetable garden without a lot of enrichment, which costs time, as well as money.
                                                                                        It's not about the erosion, it's about the clay, the rocks, the lack of water, all of which costs $$ to improve.

                                                                                        1. re: wyogal

                                                                                          Agree. I can't plant on the grounds surrounding my home because the lead levels are too high even so it has too much clay/rocks to be dug by hand.

                                                                                          I have a very handy friend who offered to put in two good sized raised beds for me and did not charge of his time or labor. Yikes, When all things were said and done those 2 raised beds cost me close $400! And I used cheap wood, not kits, worked with a local nursery for soil, etc

                                                                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                            exactly, we want to put one in, and that's what we figured it would cost for one that would grow a decent amount of food. Then, there is the water.
                                                                                            and the late frost.
                                                                                            and the early frost.
                                                                                            and the wind.
                                                                                            and horrid smoky summers lately, filled with smoke.
                                                                                            :)

                                                                                          2. re: wyogal

                                                                                            Of course.

                                                                                            Nobody's saying any of this is easy.

                                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                                              But, you keep saying it is possible for people to grow gardens in their yards, it just takes work. Well, it takes $$, which is the point of this thread. Not everyone has the $$ to put in gardens in areas where it is difficult/impossible to garden.
                                                                                              over, and over, and over, and over.
                                                                                              I think we get it.
                                                                                              so done.

                                                                                              1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                I live in a very small city, I rent and do not have a yard, nor do I have any land. There used to be a community garden in town but the government shut it down as they were afraid it would become a breeding ground for crime. I honestly do not know how to grow my own food. I'd like to. I'm asking, for anyone who says you can just go ahead and grow food, what do I do?

                                                                                                1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                  Contact your county extension agent and ask to speak to a Master Gardener, they can help you in your specific area. One can do it, but prepared for sticker shock if you need to buy dirt and spend $ on water. If you live in a gardening climate with great soil and cheap/free water, then, yes it is less expensive than other areas (like mine).

                                                                                                  1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                    Consult with a Master Gardener, then spend time looking through seed catalogs.

                                                                                                    1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                      I'm afraid I will have to refer you to the experts in this thread.

                                                                                                    2. re: wyogal

                                                                                                      We have a yard, and a raised bed, and a lot of good compost, and money to pay for water. We have several fruit trees. And we don't get anywhere NEAR self-sustaining levels. It's possible that we just suck at gardening (we both do work full time) but we are constantly battling pests and animals and fungus and the like. We got no pineapple guavas off our tree this year because the squirrels pick them all before they're ripe, and the olive tree mysteriously dropped all its fruit in the spring. The fruit trees we put in two years ago when we moved in still haven't borne fruit, except for the quince, which seems to be infested with some moth. We do get meyer lemons from our patio lemon tree, though. That lasts me about a month, when they're ripe.

                                                                                            2. re: latindancer

                                                                                              That's great that this wonder garden you ate from turned out well. But how much time did the gardener take to ensure it? My uncle's garden turned out OK even up here, but he tends to it for hours a day, that's all he has to do all day, he's retired. If you take someone who has kids, and a full time job outside of the home, there's no way keeping a garden of that caliber is possible.

                                                                                              1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                Well, I'm certainly not going to feel like I have to defend something I love to do.
                                                                                                My garden, as with everything else I do, is one of my choices I've made. I stay fit and healthy....my choice. I multi task heavily....my choice. I have children....my choice. If I had to work outside my home I'd still find the time to do the things I love to do. It's just who i am.

                                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                  Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back. But do rememeber not everyone is as fortunate as you!

                                                                                                  1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                    Oh, it's all about life choices. Poor people just made/make the wrong choice.

                                                                                                    1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                      I, in no way shape of form, am 'patting myself on the back'. I was asked the question and I responded.
                                                                                                      Sorry you perceive it that way and I consider good health something that's fortunate....nothing else.

                                                                                                      1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                        "Fortunate" is a very subjective term, isn't it?

                                                                                                        Yes, I have been fortunate to meet some of the poorest yet richest in spirit people in the world who've got more will an determination that most people I know. They know how to work hard to benefit from their toil. They've made choices that they knew would benefit everyone around them. They, from their ancestors, have learned that hard work can bring prosperity and they didn't moan ounce once when they were getting no sleep or rest. I've learned object lessons from them that all the money in the world can't buy. I've been very, very fortunate. Thank you for noting that.

                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                          Not really subjective at all. And those who are fortunate, should realize not everyone is.

                                                                                                      2. re: latindancer

                                                                                                        It's not about defending something you love to do, it sounds like you have a great garden. The point is that you simply do not believe and keep arguing about gardening in the west, with people who live here. and garden. and know what it is really like on a daily basis, for many years.
                                                                                                        You seem to think that all it takes is a plot of land. It takes more than that, which costs $$. More so than the fresh vegetables offered in the grocery stores.

                                                                                                        1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                          From people I've met and respected, who've been given land that wasn't worth anything and nobody else wanted, they've turned it into richness with little to no money.
                                                                                                          I have never said any of this comes easy.

                                                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                            And again, your limited personal experience does not equate to universal reality.

                                                                                                            1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                              Sorry you see it that way....it most definately isn't the case based on who I work with.
                                                                                                              Trust me on that one.

                                                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                Huh?

                                                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                  But that exactly the point - you are making broad, general statements about the entire population of the US based on the population *you* work with. Yet there are just as many individual experiences cited by others with very different outcomes. Why is it so hard to accept that your experience and your community are not the end all, be all of poverty in the US?

                                                                                                          2. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                            It's beyond amazing and certainly enlightening.

                                                                                                          3. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                            Starting in the early 1950s, my parents gardened extensively in Ohio and grew most of their produce. They also grew, picked and canned and froze their own and purchased fruit. They mostly ate veg out of their freezer and canned supply, supplemented by a few seasonal fruits, through the year. They both worked at fulltime jobs (tho mom, a teacher was off in summer of course), as well as raising their kids, doing pretty much all of the finishing of the work on their house (carpentry, upholstery, cabinetry, floorcoverings, everything) and of course cooking all their meals, including bread and dessert from scratch. Restaurant meals were few and far between and mom packed Dad's and her own lunch each day.

                                                                                                            Household management, including of course raising us, was their priority and they worked hard at it and did it well, frankly, as their parents did before them. There is no substitute for learning basis life skills like how to cook, grow a garden, do basic repairs, etc. And, having grown up in the depression era, they were very economical,

                                                                                                            I would say that having an intact marriage - in fact a partnership - in this enterprise made a difference, but knowhow (including learned knowhow) commitment to making it work, economical habits and just plain hard work on it were the critical factors. There are a lot of modern conveniences and convenience foods that make life easier, but learning good nutrition, habits of economy and hard work are what will bet people through.

                                                                                                            1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                              That's great for your parents, but again, they KNEW how to do that, plus, during prime growing/harvesting season in the summer, your mom didn't work. They knew how to start and grow a garden, and had a place to do it. My grandma grew up on a farm in Missouri and did a lot of what your grandparents did in the same time era as did many many people of that generation. But for a low income person living in the middle of a city in contemporary times, who works full time, all of that is not really possible. Also, as you mentioned, they had an intact partnership. That is a whole other issue when it comes to this... many single parents trying to make it all work.

                                                                                                              As I've already mentioned multiple times in this thread, YES, it is possible for a "poor" person to eat well. But it takes RESOURCES like land, time, and knowledge, in order to do so. If someone, no matter what their income level really, doesn't have the correct resources, then living a healthy lifestyle is very very difficult to do.

                                                                                                              1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                I think poor people through history worked hard to take care of themselves, cooked for themselves ate economically, grew, fished or hunted if they could, etc because they had to - - and worked their way out of poverty if they could could.

                                                                                                                None of these skills are rocket science and I have to note that my parents worked VERY HARD. My dad would come home, work in his workshop for a few hours then open his briefcase. Mom made all our clothes etc etc.

                                                                                                                Many of our compassionate efforts to take care of people just wind up in their dependency rather than giving them the tools to work toward independence and a better life. Of course some people, elderly, sick, developmentally disabled etc will be dependent for life but our objective with the rest should be to support them in building an independent, healthy life, just as we do with our own children. Learning tools and simple skills like cooking, fishing (as someone has mentioned) budgeting and household management etc, in addition to job training would assist folks in moving out of dependency

                                                                                                  2. re: wyogal

                                                                                                    and if someone doesn't know how to cook, how in the world can you expect them to know how to grow something?

                                                                                                    Even the public gardens round these parts looked peaked this last year (cold, wet summer) -- I don't know a single soul who actually harvested anything from their garden last year. (and most everybody I know plants at least a small garden)

                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                      I don't.

                                                                                                      Plus the tools, the water, the time, the storage of fresh food, etc..............

                                                                                                      1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                        sorry, I was replying to you in agreement, not as a challenge.

                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                          no worries!

                                                                                                  3. re: latindancer

                                                                                                    "People (study the statistics) are more prone to take money that's available and what they do with that money isn't always used for healthy food for their children."

                                                                                                    Please provide us with said statistics so that we can educate ourselves.

                                                                                                2. re: latindancer

                                                                                                  Yes, such mental exercises, done in the comfortability of one's own home with any number of electronic devices and $$$$$$ available to one's self, are quite interesting, for sure.

                                                                                                  Were that those damn lazy poor folk had the time, cash, and
                                                                                                  *creativity* on their hands to do the same.

                                                                                              2. re: latindancer

                                                                                                "During the Great Depression NOBODY would take any assistance...it's why the depression lasted as long as it did."

                                                                                                Is this assumption based on anything but anecdotal reference to your incredibly creative, proud and never lazy mom?

                                                                                                I'd be very curious to see statistics to support your statement, beyond your very lucky circumstances of having a plot of land -- something so many inner city folk have access to. Not.

                                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                  And if they do have it, does it get enough hours of sunlight daily to grow a garden in? Or have access to water supply, a way to keep rodents from eating everything that grows, or to secure it against poachers?

                                                                                                2. re: latindancer

                                                                                                  "The CBO just released a statement regarding present government handouts in the US. If a person is making less than $40,000/yr. in wages they can choose to go on different types of government assistance and bring in the same amount."

                                                                                                  Link please. I'm going to call BS until proven otherwise.

                                                                                                  "During the Great Depression NOBODY would take any assistance...it's why the depression lasted as long as it did."

                                                                                                  Simply untrue, on both accounts.

                                                                                                  1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                    100% agree, carolinadawg.

                                                                                                    1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                      If a person is making $40,000/yr. after the various taxes paid that person ends up taking home, say, $28,000. The CBO is now saying that the same person, with all the hand outs available to him/her, it amounts to approx. the same. I know a person who brings in a weekly $700 in unemployment and food stamps. You figure it out.
                                                                                                      During the Great Depression, and why it lasted as long as it did, people would certainly take the jobs that were created but accepting money from the government without working for it? It didn't happen.

                                                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                        Please provide a source for your statements.

                                                                                                        "During the Great Depression, and why it lasted as long as it did, people would certainly take the jobs that were created but accepting money from the government without working for it? It didn't happen."

                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                          and for those of us who have been unemployed for so long they don't qualify for the multiple extensions? what do they get? jack shit. and SNAP only pays out $200/month for a single person household. as noted above yes, with time and an equipped kitchen $50/week pp can easily be done, but that won't pay the rent or transit, or for copies of resumes and the postage (I know it's all over the internet now in most situations, but one still needs the access to the net).

                                                                                                          I have a hunch that 40K figure is also counting Medicaid, which, funded by the Feds is administered by the states, so in some states, unless one has a documented disability - again, nothing.

                                                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                            If those facts are as stated and he/she is single then they would seem to be committing fraud in most states, unless
                                                                                                            you are reciting anecdotes again.
                                                                                                            http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/applican...

                                                                                                      2. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                        Our nonnas also did not have access to the array of canned and convenience foods that we have today... so they had to make do with what was available.
                                                                                                        My grandma was considered lucky because her father (my great-grandfather) sold fruits and vegetables off of a street cart. Whatever was left was what was dinner for the family.

                                                                                                        1. re: iluvcookies

                                                                                                          Most of them were also stay at home Moms who didn't have to work one or two jobs.

                                                                                                      3. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                        That seems very anachronistic.

                                                                                                        Also, be careful, most of us understand the difference between a lack of access to proper education and intelligence.

                                                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                          Anachronistic? No way, common sense transcends. I'm not the sharpest knife in the block, no formal nutrition/cooking training other than health class, yet I know an apple is a better choice than doritos. How is that? It's very prejudiced, insulting and smug to think poor folks don't know any better. Be careful before passing judgement

                                                                                                          1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                            By anachronistic, I meant making the comparison to past generations. As to the second point, I was drawing the distinction between knowing better and having been "educated" about farming or cooking. Those are not skills one innately "knows".

                                                                                                            1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                              You are presenting a false dichotomy here. The question is not whether the unhealthy diets of the poor are because they do not have affordable options other than junk food. Clearly people who live on soda and chips are making bad choices both nutritionally and economically. That is a separate problem. There remains the substantive question what obstacles does a person with limited money and time face when they want to eat healthier, but affordable food. To just dismiss the problem as if it doesn't exist and argue that it just a matter of personal choice is simplistic and wrong.

                                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                I would agree the problem exists, however, it's the PEOPLE making their own choice, it's an inconvenient truth, and it is that simple. I had a job a few years ago that was at ground zero of helping folks out of poverty. My current office is located in the ghetto in one of the most problem areas in the county. I'm not as insulated from the situation as some of you might be...I see day after day, the choices people make....Rocawear and Addidas win out over real food

                                                                                                                1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                                  Don't forget iPhones. I also work, in one of the those areas you're describing, with young children. I'm amazed @ the amount of them who're on their iPhones while educators are attempting to teach them.

                                                                                                        2. Objectively you can, but people will find many excuses as why you cannot. One does not have to eat organic produce, or canned products as well.
                                                                                                          Excuses will run riot as to why you cannot..and it is just excuses, not fact and sense.
                                                                                                          i went to school in a working class area..we were taught nutrition as children. What's happened now..no more basic education that an apple is good for you. For goodness sake, it is on t.v. too.
                                                                                                          I have taught basic cooking on the shoestring budget to friends who were complaining of lack of money and limited funds due to welfare and other financial difficulties, yet, they were subsiting on fast food, junk food, and frozen dinners and canned pastas. Way cheaper and healthier to use beans, canned tomatoes, veggies, dried herbs, lean ground meat, tofu, etc.
                                                                                                          On the other hand..the price of food in the grocery story has gotten kinda crazy..bread.

                                                                                                          1. It will be interesting to see how many "poor people" contribute to this thread and tell us of their experiences.

                                                                                                            If few or none, then it will be just we middle class folk pontificating. as usual, about how much cleverer and knowledgable we are. It's easy for us to do that, isn't it? Just so long as we don't actually have to experience poverty for ourselves.

                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                                              While my husband was in grad school, we had two small children, low funds. It was difficult to eat healthy. It takes time and knowledge (thankfully, I had that) to cook from scratch, to get groceries without transportation, to plan meals. The commodities that we utilized included flour, sugar, salt, cheese, butter. At that time, there were no vegetables available from that source.
                                                                                                              When our financial situation improved, so did our diet. When I was working, I was able to go to the grocery store, buy everything I needed for the Sonoma diet, felt great, for the most part. But, I really did not like my work situation and quit. We are pretty much financially screwed, compared to some. But blessed, compared to others. I lost my retirement, benefits, etc. I am now working more, in a job I love (but no benefits,, sick leave), and times are not as tight as when I wasn't working, and the kids are out of the house.
                                                                                                              Yes, for those in poverty, it takes longer to get what you need. It is more difficult. I count my blessings that I am able to make soup from very little! Also, it was great that my family ate beans, barley pilaf, brown rice.
                                                                                                              No, I've never been truly poor, but I know those who are, and it is very difficult. They are not stupid. They are not lazy. It is harder.

                                                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                +1 Harters.

                                                                                                                Lots of folks posting who dont know beans (pardon the pun) about what it is to be truly impoverished today.

                                                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                  Yes, isn't it always refreshing to hear the well-off express their disdain and superiority over the unwashed masses and their lack of responsibility & creativity, self-entitlement and laziness.

                                                                                                                  "Ich kann gar nicht so viel fressen, wie ich kotzen möcht'."
                                                                                                                  Max Liebermann

                                                                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                    +1000000000000

                                                                                                                  2. re: Harters

                                                                                                                    Some of us have, though, at various times in our lives. For me, it was college years and some lean years due to disability later.

                                                                                                                    There were times we were down to eggs, potatoes and onions. Then the eggs ran out before our next pay day.

                                                                                                                    And then a profession working with the disabled poor on very meager incomes.

                                                                                                                    But your point is well taken. Folks who self reference, or cite their own lives, parents, grandparents are extrapolating to a much wider and more varied set of circumstances that they are blind to.

                                                                                                                  3. The answer partially depends on where people live. If one has the ability and knowledge to grow a garden, for example, then, yes its much easier to eat healthy on a small amount of money.

                                                                                                                    On the other hand, someone living in an inner-city (or even suburbuan) "food desert" has a much harder time.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                      Yep. That's part of the "access" issue (as well as, in a way, the "education" one).

                                                                                                                    2. Honest answer.. It depends. It depends on how far it is to the store, and what that store sells. It depends on transportation available - car vs. public transit vs. walking/cycling. It depends on how much time is available for shopping and cooking (not much if you're working two jobs and relying on the bus for transportation). It depends on what kind of cooking equipment is available (stove vs. hot plate, does the oven work? clean running water? pots/pans and utensils?). It depends on the ability to safely store food (working fridge and freezer? vermin free dry storage?). It depends on access to open space for gardening. It depends on individual knowledge of cooking, which has not been universally taught in schools for at least two generations now, so many young adults never learned because their parents never learned.

                                                                                                                      So yeah, it can be done, but it isn't easy.

                                                                                                                      1. Drawing from one's own experience or from any one family's example does not answer the question, which is not merely whether it is possible for one particular family to eat healthy. The important point is whether it is difficult for most of the urban poor in today's economy to eat healthy.

                                                                                                                        I'll be more specific by giving one example. Common inexpensive brands of spaghetti sauce in a jar have added sugar, the principal cause (in my opinion) of unhealthy eating in the US today. Some brands have a lot of added sugar. A person buying whatever is cheapest will be adding a lot of extra sugar to their diet. Suppose that person is aware of the sugar problem and wants to avoid it. What are the options?

                                                                                                                        One option is to seek out brands which have no added sugar. These are premium brands which cost significantly more. I buy one occasionally which costs twice as much as the ordinary kind, and I have to make a special trip to get it. This is not an option for the poor.

                                                                                                                        A better option is to make spaghetti sauce yourself. I have started doing this to avoid sugar while keeping my costs down. It's a little cheaper, but not much, because I want a good result so don't make it the cheapest possible way. But whether one makes a basic sauce or a gourmet sauce, it takes time. I am retired and have a lot of time, but a single parent with children at home doesn't have a lot of time for cooking.

                                                                                                                        Suppose there is enough time to make spaghetti sauce. If you make it in small batches, it takes more time, and if you use fresh tomatoes you are vulnerable to the fluctuating price of tomatoes. I buy canned Roma tomatoes, because I am not much worried about the price, but it would probably be less expensive to buy them in season in quantity and make a large batch, in an area where tomatoes are plentiful and cheap. To make a large batch, you will need: more money to buy the ingredients, more time to prepare and cook the ingredients, a larger pot, freezer space to store the finished sauce or canning equipment, time to do the processing, and pantry space to store the jars. Large freezers and pantries are an additional expense.

                                                                                                                        It would be cheaper yet to grow the tomatoes and make a big batch every year. Now you need land (expensive) and time to tend a garden. Some cities have public space available to people who want a garden but don't have the land, but there isn't nearly enough such space to accommodate most of the urban poor, even if they did have the time to raise a garden.

                                                                                                                        None of these options are practical for the great majority of urban poor who are limited in both money and time. They will buy the cheapest spaghetti sauce available nearby, or they will do without and eat something else. If the latter, then a similar line of argument applies to whatever it is they are eating instead.

                                                                                                                        I agree that poor people (meaning the great majority of the poor) cannot afford to eat healthy.

                                                                                                                        26 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                          <but a single parent with children at home doesn't have a lot of time for cooking>

                                                                                                                          Interesting. My mother had 4 children, managed to build, maintain, work and harvest her garden which she used to feed us. She also kept the home immaculate, brought in an income from a business inside our home and made healthy meals 3X/day. She kept our clothes clean, ironed them and kept us healthy without insurance. We all helped, and we all learned hard work and payoff. Poor people can most certainly afford to eat healthy....it's choices we're talking about and self survival.

                                                                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                            Anecdotes don't address the general problem of the state of the urban poor today. My grandmother was poor, financially, being widowed much too early without a career of her own. But she was rich in other ways. The eldest son set aside his own aspirations and went to work to support the family. She had a small house and land sufficient for a garden, a few apple trees and berries, and chickens. She lived in a relatively mild climate with plenty of inexpensive wood for cooking, heating, and hot water. She was a pioneer woman and managed to get by. By the time she was too old to keep her garden, my mother had grown and established a career, and she stayed close to home to look after her mother.

                                                                                                                            This proves nothing. It is nice to recall the pioneer spirit of our ancestors with their homesteads and extended families, but it is not applicable to the situation of the vast numbers of urban poor today. To think that their plight is merely a due to circumstances under their own control is simplistic and just plain wrong.

                                                                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                              Yes!

                                                                                                                              1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                Ditto for me.

                                                                                                                              2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                +1.

                                                                                                                                Finally, a commonsense response to the bootstrap braisers.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                  whats a bootstrap braiser? At DQ?

                                                                                                                                2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                  THIS.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                    GH1618-I am going to link to your responses every time one of these threads comes up. You have articulated my thoughts in a way my ragey brain can't when I read these threads.

                                                                                                                                    thank you!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                      Well said, GH1618.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                        So what was different with the penniless, language barriered (yeah, I made it up), irish, italian, and polish immigrants, (in my area, anyway) who came to this country with nothing, and worked their way up? They were "urban poor," dealt with circumstances under and out of their control. They sure weren't the master race, right?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                                                          <So what was different with the penniless,....>

                                                                                                                                          They were definately made of the right stuff....totally inspiring. Something alot of people could learn from.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                          Folks, there are political tones to this thread, and some people aren't resisting the urge to take shots at politicians and policies. We'd like to ask everyone to please keep the focus on the food stuff and leave the politics out of it.

                                                                                                                                          Other people aren't resisting the urge to take shots at their fellow hounds. Please keep things friendly.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                        "Suppose that person is aware of the sugar problem and wants to avoid it. What are the options?"

                                                                                                                                        A can of whole tomatoes for 99 cents, the spices in your kitchen, and your bare hands.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                          and if you have no spices in your kitchen?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                            Not to mention that the upfront cost of the spices could be an almost insurmountable obstacle. A small jar of bay leaf is what, close to $4.00, or more?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                                              exactly- then there basil oregano, onion garlic, etc.

                                                                                                                                              Oh wait! The poor don't need flavor! They should be happy with canned tomatoes they sqish with their hands!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                At the local market in my area, a large bag of Italian seasoning blend (basil, oregano and rosemary, I believe) is about half the cost of a bag of Ruffles.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Mestralle

                                                                                                                                                  Is that market easily acessible by public transportation, and located in or close to, an economically challenged neighborhood?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                                                    Actually, spices at the stores that are closest to the most economically challenged neighborhoods in our area tend to be even cheaper than the store I'm thinking of, though I can't speak to the ethnic diversity of what's available (those markets tend to be Asian and/or Mexican rather than Italian). And I honestly haven't priced the cost of our local supermarket generic spices.

                                                                                                                                                    And I agree that spices can be a bit of a hurdle in up-front costs, but how often is one suddenly put in a situation where they have literally nothing? It sort of reminds me of that guy who had a show trying to live off minimum wage. He said it was impossible, but he was also trying, on day one, to rent a new apartment (with the requisite deposits) and furnish it from scratch. How many people are really in this situation?

                                                                                                                                                    I'm not saying it's easy, but the cost of a few basic spices can easily be offset by foregoing a couple bottles of soda or a few bags of potato chips or a bake-at-home pizza. And while you're saving for it, in our area, at least, you can always pop by the food court in any number of supermarkets and grab a couple packets of pizza seasoning, Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes, etc....

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Mestralle

                                                                                                                                                      Soooo, you're admitting that is is necessary to steal in order for a poor person to eat healthy? Your screen name should be Marie Antoinette!

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                                                        Stealing? Oh, the packets? On a number of occasions, I've asked if I could buy some (for sandwiches while traveling or whatever reason I needed/wanted them), and every single time I've been told to go ahead and just take them. That's not stealing.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Mestralle

                                                                                                                                                          And if you were a dirty, not to great smelling member of the working poor who was not actually doing any shopping in the store, what do you think the reaction would be to that question?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                                                            Why wouldn't I be doing shopping in the store? Why not ask where I buy the tomatoes? And why would you presume that I'd be "dirty" or "not to great smelling"? And why would that even have anything to do with a response? Gosh, I'm not sure where you're from, but the employees in our supermarkets just don't treat people that way.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                                                              At a bar I spend a decent amount of time at they make patrons buy something if they want to use the restroom. If a well-dressed person comes in and eloquently asks to use the restroom, they will let them. If a dirty, unkempt individual comes in and asks to use the restroom with something barely resembling English, then they have to buy something first. I see no problem with this practice.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Mestralle

                                                                                                                                                      And mine does not. <shrug>

                                                                                                                                            2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                              +2000000

                                                                                                                                            3. Any class of people can eat healthy -- if they make the effort -- even the rich.

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: beevod

                                                                                                                                                +1...stop trying to assign boogeymen, and take some personal responsibility

                                                                                                                                                1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                                                                  +2...

                                                                                                                                              2. I think there are situations were the poor do not have the ability to eat healthy.

                                                                                                                                                A situation would be a single mother with kids who has to work 2 jobs to even keep a roof over her families heads. Being exhausted from juggling work and children it is easier to buy cheap fast food or cheap canned or microwavable food than to plan a breakfast lunch and dinner.

                                                                                                                                                The education element as mentioned up thread is also key. Some people don't know how to cook and can't meal plan and understand how to stay within the budget.

                                                                                                                                                Fruit and veggies are not very cheap when trying to provide for several children 1.49 and 2.99 a pound. It's just easier to buy then junk food instead.

                                                                                                                                                and lastly I cook every Thursday for my diabetic grandma who has heart problems. I spend double on the meals I make for her to get the healthier options. Why is it more expensive to buy food that doesn't have salt added?

                                                                                                                                                Because sometimes I don't have time to cook stocks or soups at home. Sometimes I do, sometimes not.

                                                                                                                                                I think now so many people are overworked with low pay and that is what is causing the issue.

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                                                                                  Exactly!

                                                                                                                                                2. A fairly definitive answer to this was the thread RWORange did 6 of years ago finding out if you can eat well on $3 per day, basically what "foodstamps" allowed per person at the time. Being well educated, aware of places to find the bargains, working only one job, and having a car to get to the food bargains made it much easier. The conclusion was that it was possible, but extremely difficult, and required a willingness and ability to eat all kinds of food.

                                                                                                                                                  I know it would be a challenge to me to live on $3 or even $5 a day for food. Maybe instead of discussing it we should all try it. How many chowhounds would be willing to try living on a budget of say $4 a day per person for food for a whole month?

                                                                                                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/420878

                                                                                                                                                  26 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                    Good thought, KMan.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                      I guess everyone thought it was a rhetorical question. Is anyone in here willing to try a limited budget trial? How much? $4, $5, $6 per person per day?

                                                                                                                                                      Maybe we could do it as a Lenten Discipline instead of giving up chocolate. 40 days and 40 nights. We could even keep the lenten tradition of not including Sundays, sort of a 'cheat' day. This year Lent is from February 13 - March 30. Any takers?

                                                                                                                                                      I just set up an e-mail account: <LentChow@ymail.com> so you don't have to 'sign up' here.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                        I would do it for sure but my BF would never go for it. He still doesn't understand why I don't buy more prime steaks on my $325/mo grocery budget :-P

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                                          curious, is that your food budget or just your grocery budget? by food budget i would include trips to starbucks or jamba, meals out, etc.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                          If it's $4/person/day I'm already doing a little under that. My grocery budget for 3 people is $250/month max.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                                                                            I'm impressed. I have to admit that I am not good at tracking my expenses, and I eat far too many meals out (fewer and fewer at fast food places), but I know that i would have a real hard time making it work at under $85 per month. I know someone upthread said they were at $90 for two. My hat is off to you people, you are frugal, resourceful, and talented.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                            $6 per person per day would be very doable for me and my husband, even though we are low-carbers (especially now, after falling off the wagon over the holidays) and therefore eat almost no cheap "filler" food. We'd eat a lot of eggs and bone-in chicken, but we wouldn't starve for sure.

                                                                                                                                                            However, I'm not sure it would really prove anything about the plight of the poor or their ability to eat healthy. There is a big difference between knowing that "I need to keep my food costs for this week to $6/person/day" and knowing that "I have exactly $6 in my pocket until my payday tomorrow." This is not something that most middle class people contemplate on a daily basis.

                                                                                                                                                            I have the advantage not only of having a savings account, but also of living in a neighborhood where there are at least 6 grocery stores within walking distance (and they compete on prices, so if you shop the circulars you can get GREAT deals). I have a car and a Costco membership, and a kitchen/fridge/freezer large enough to store bulk purchases. I have a working stovetop, oven, microwave and a whole host of smaller cooking appliances.

                                                                                                                                                            And perhaps most importantly: I was raised by parents who cooked and taught me to cook. Not everyone is so lucky. I also (whether by nature or nurture) have a great love of food and cooking, and made it my business to learn how to cook and eat in a non-traditionally healthy way after struggling with obesity. Not everyone so concerned about their weight/health, for a number of reasons (some social/socio-economic).

                                                                                                                                                            Not trying to dismiss your idea, and I may give it a go just to save a little money this month, but I don't think my success would prove anything.

                                                                                                                                                        3. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                          Having a car and the disposable time to travel from shop to shop in search of the best deal also helped. As did eating for no one but herself; I can't imagine what this would look like if she were dealing with adolescent children. Kids can put away a lot of food.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                            But don't you have to calculate the cost of transportation into that budget?

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                            I think $4 per day on food is a generous allotment for people who are healthy, with no special dietary restrictions or needs. In other words, non-lactating women, women who are pregnant or planning to be, women (and men) who aren't iron-deficient, folks who are not diabetics, children who don't have Type 1 Diabetes, celiac, food allergies, etc, seniors who have to eat certain types of diets because of prescription medications (blood thinners, etc), etc.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                              How long have you been eating on $4 a day?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                Please share your weekly menu plan of the meals/snacks that do not cost more than $4 a day please. I assume since you say "generous" is possible to do it with less.

                                                                                                                                                                I am always looking to refine my budget and think maybe we could all learn how someone can eat a well balanced and healthy diet on less than $4 day.

                                                                                                                                                                thank you!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                  We're not doing it anymore for the reasons I posted below(H), but we ate lots of variations on rice and beans, potato dishes (fried, baked, boiled, mashed), lots of meatless chili, LOTS of pasta (with olive oil, tuna, homemade sauce, pasta fagiole etc)..pasta 4 or 5 times per week. Snacks were bananas, mostly, and bowls of cereal with powdered milk. Can't do that now.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                    Sorry, still not seeing it but thanks any way.

                                                                                                                                                                    Here in Boston a day like this would cost well over $4 and it is not at all what I would call well balanced and healthy

                                                                                                                                                                    Breakfast- whole grain cereal, generic with milk

                                                                                                                                                                    Lunch- brown rice and beans with some kind of fresh/frozen veggie

                                                                                                                                                                    Dinner-pasta (generic) with tuna and oilve oil

                                                                                                                                                                    snack: whole banana with 2 TBS peanut butter

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                      I think the salient point is that doing it that way may have led to the conditions that make it unwise now...

                                                                                                                                                                      Healthy folks become unhealthy folks on such a diet.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                        This carb-laden type of diet is what leads to Type II diabetes in the first place, and is one of the main reasons that Type II diabetes is so prevalent among low-income people. While a steady diet of homemade pasta, rice and potato dishes may be somewhat healthier in terms of sodium or trans fat content than a steady diet of Doritos and McDonald's, it's no better and may even be worse from a carbohydrate intake standpoint. At least at McDonald's you can get bunless burgers with lettuce and tomato - I'd take that over a bowl of processed carbohydrates any day.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                                                                          Mcf and biondanonima,

                                                                                                                                                                          yes and yes.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                          That's pretty far from a healthy diet.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                            Don't H and I know it now. But it was very low fat, and almost vegetarian, which a lot of govt agencies tout as healthy....even in materials given to diabetics (as in what H got upon discharge from the hospital, which is why I ran to the special diets thread, thank God, to be educated). Live and learn.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                        H and I started eating on $4.00 a day (sometimes cheaper) when he lost his job in 2009 (construction) during the great economic downturn, through this summer when he had a small stroke. Lots of pasta, beans, rice, bananas, potatoes, cereals and stuff from our garden (in season). H was diagnosed as Type II diabetic while in hospital for the stroke, so we're now eating to control his BG and to accommodate the blood thinner regimen. It's tougher to incorporate good sources of protein and diabetic-friendly veggies (and some fruits) into every meal for him on $4.00 a day, which is why I wrote the disclaimer that it's easy for folks with no dietary needs. And yes, it's really tough to cook healthily balancing a crazy workload (which I have since he's been unable to work)..fortunately, we don't have kids in the equation.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                          Seriously though can you give me an actual daily menu? What did you actually eat specifically for breakfast lunch and dinner that cost less than $4:00 day.

                                                                                                                                                                          'Lots of pasta, beans and banana" does not help me, LOL. Its like those threads that say the poor should just eat beans and rice! they should just roast a chicken!

                                                                                                                                                                          What did you put on the pasta? What did you do in the winter with no garden. What kind of cereal? with milk or with out?

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                            Breakfast: Generic cheerios (or corn flakes, or whatever was cheapest) with powdered, reconstituted milk. A banana.

                                                                                                                                                                            Lunch: Leftover rice and beans, nuked at work for me or at home by H. (or leftover meatless chili, or leftover whatever from the previous night).

                                                                                                                                                                            Dinner: Pasta with tuna, or oil S&P, or diced tomatoes, or whatever canned tomatoes were on sale, on top. In the winter we shopped from the reduced produce aisle, and used canned veg. We bought potatoes in bulk.

                                                                                                                                                                            As I stated, we cannot do this anymore because of H's health in the wake of the stroke.

                                                                                                                                                                            What's your point, foodie, just out of curiosity--what am I trying to "help you" with? If you read my posts, you will find that I'm not advocating for rice and beans and that since my H is diabetic, frugal eating is very difficult in our household. Help me to "help" you.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                              You made a statement that that a $4 allotment for food was "generous" and said that any able bodied healthy person should be able to do so easily. I merely wanted to understand how anyone one could eat a healthy well balanced diet on $4 or day (less since $4 was "generous"). Since you said you did I wanted some menu planning ideas as I am always looking at ways to creatively impact my food budget. In essence, I thought I could get some really good insight on how exactly you did it.

                                                                                                                                                                              However your further statements, while vague, now imply it wasn’t so easy nor was it healthy and well balanced and in fact may have been one of the causes of your husband current poor health.

                                                                                                                                                                              So you basically can’t help me since my question was how (specifically) does one eat a healthy well balanced meal on less than $4. And since the answer now that you didn’t the point is moot.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                That's just it...which is why I had all the subcategories. Most people--given the parameters I outlined, esp for females--don't fall into the "able to eat for under $4.00 a day", which I've learned through personal experience--unless you have a bulletproof metabolism.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                  Your question seemed disingenuous and combative to me. And it seems the answer was provided, nonetheless.

                                                                                                                                                                                  One pack of whole wheat pasta (containing 7 servings) costs around $4. I bought 12 heads of garlic for $1 and 4 red peppers for $1 a few days ago. A can of tuna or a can of anchovies might set you back $1. A small bottle of olive oil might cost you around $5. You can get onions for about $1 a pound.

                                                                                                                                                                                  What you end up with is a total expenditure of about $13 and 7 servings of a healthy pasta dish that includes good carbs, protein, veggies and healthy fat. That's less than $2 per serving, and I'm not even cutting corners. This is a regular dinner for me, and I truly enjoy it.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                          I have attempted to live on about $3-4 a day. (I'm a cheap college student. Not a poor one, but that's partly cause I'm cheap). I should note that I'm all of 5'0", and so I need much less food than many people.

                                                                                                                                                                          I didn't have a car at the time, but was fortunate to have a grocery store about a half a mile away, and it wasn't a very expensive one. I've transferred colleges since, and if I didn't have a car, I'd probably subsist off of bagels given what's available (within walking distance of the current college, there's a fantastic, very cheap bagel place, a target, and a whole foods. Not so good...).

                                                                                                                                                                          I ate oatmeal for breakfast, with a tiny dollop of jam (optional). A big container of oatmeal lasts for about a month, and costs under $5, so that's cheap.

                                                                                                                                                                          A small snack was a fried egg. Under a $1 a week, actually.

                                                                                                                                                                          A large snack or small meal was a sweet potato (roasted in the oven if I was feeling decadent, cooked in the microwave if I was in a hurry). A high estimate for that would be a dollar.

                                                                                                                                                                          My large meal always involved pasta and cabbage. Much to my despair, rice was very expensive in my area. I also didn't have a rice cooker, and I've never been good at cooking rice without one. I'll note that I strongly prefer to pair rice instead of pasta with cabbage. Anyway, depending on the week, I'd sometimes throw in a bit of meat, or some other vegetables. A pound of pasta and a pound of cabbage are a dollar each, and that would last me about a week. The add in was no more than a dollar a day. So that meal was usually under $2 a day. (I also sometimes got bored and made it all cabbage and no pasta). When finals came or school was particularly stressful, I switched to a small (theoretically healthy) frozen entree, at $2 per day.

                                                                                                                                                                          Coffee was about $8 a month, and I didn't go through too much oil. Sometimes I made my own bread, at around $1 a loaf, which would last 2 days before requiring me to make soup to deal with stale bread. Almond milk was $3 every two weeks.

                                                                                                                                                                          So, I was able to eat quite cheaply. It wasn't always the tastiest, but it was usually pretty healthy. However, I always had the upfront cash to purchase something, so I didn't have to deal with not having spices (also, they had little bags of Mexican spices at that grocery store, which were very cheap).

                                                                                                                                                                          However, I can also see where such a plan wouldn't work. If you don't have a reasonably priced, accessible grocery store, you're screwed. If you have any health problems, you're screwed (grocery bags are heavy, but I didn't have time to go more than once a week). If you don't have enough upfront cash, you'll end up without some necessities (oil, spices, salt). I got by using other people's cookware. Clearly, that won't work for everyone. If you actually need to follow a 2000 calorie diet, I have no clue how the hell you'd do that. Also, what I ate was okay for a while, but would have been hell if it had continued for a few years.

                                                                                                                                                                          There are also things that would have made life easier. An Asian supermarket nearby would have been a blessing. I can eat very cheaply now, with my car, because I can go pick up a variety of Chinese veggies for 50 cents a pound, rather than getting stuck with only cabbage. I can also get hearts, necks, tongues, etc, for very reasonable prices, which makes meat affordable again.

                                                                                                                                                                          I might try to experiment again, but I'll say that the ability to absorb upfront costs makes an enormous difference. And I still haven't figured out how a rather active man would deal with such a budget.

                                                                                                                                                                        3. I can really only comment on my personal experience. I live in a fairly affluent area that still has quite a few food stamp recipients. There is plenty of access to high quality food here - but I routinely see people shopping with food stamps who have loaded their carts with crappy food, and yes, they are very often obese people. They can eat healthy, they're just choosing not to. Most of the food they are buying is very expensive, highly processed, loaded with salt, fat and calories. They can't be bothered to educate themselves about eating healthier and most of them apparently can't be bothered to cook either.

                                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                            I've worked with very, very low income children who come from some of the worst environments anyone can imagine.
                                                                                                                                                                            The grandmothers (because the parents are either imprisoned or dead) raise the children.
                                                                                                                                                                            The children, being raised with the grandmothers, have home cooked meals prepared for them every single day of their lives. They live on very little money but somehow it's done and the children, with battered jackets and worn out shoes, are getting what they need, nutritionally from a generation of family that knows how to stretch a dollar. It can be done.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                              You keep citing anecdotes in sweeping, general terms as if they're of any evidentiary value in the wider world beyond your personal space and vision.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                For some people, anecdotes equal facts. Same goes for opinions.

                                                                                                                                                                                I'm still waiting here with baited breath for statistics or studies that have any factual basis supporting the sweeping claims that have been made on this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                It will be a fascinating and enlightening read, for sure.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. I guess you could say my family was poor when I was small. My mom quit her job, even though she made about 3x's as much as my dad, who was a self-employed landscaper, to stay at home with my brother and I. She later told me that their annual income during that time (this is in the early-mid 80s) was around $12,000 a year. Their mortgage, with its 13% interest rate, was around $600/mo. We lived in a mostly hispanic area, a small town in central CA, which had one small grocery store in town, with a larger Save Mart about a 20 minute drive away in the next town. From what I recall we ate pretty healthy.... BUT, my mom had the time, and the land to have a pretty substantial garden. There were times we would walk to the grocery store, she later told me it was because the car was broken down and they didn't have the money to fix it. Once mom went back to work when I was 6, and we moved to a better area, she didn't garden anymore and our diets got worse, with a lot more processed and boxed foods. So, the basic answer to the question is yes, given the correct resources (ie knowledge, land, and time), poor people CAN eat healthy. But again, ONLY if they have the correct resources.

                                                                                                                                                                            When I lived in Chicago and was working in real estate, we had some properties on the South Side in some pretty nasty areas. There were little to no actual grocery stores in these areas, just the corner convenience stores, and of course, a selection of fast food places like McDonald's and Popeye's Chicken. There was also not that great of public transit, other than city buses which constantly ran late, or were dangerous to ride. The trains were a decent distance away. So I could definitely see how low income people living in that area would have a hard time eating healthy. A friend of mine, a white guy, decided to be an "urban pioneer" and bought a property in that area. He moved away a few years later because he couldn't deal with the lack of amenities in the area, and he had a car and plenty of money. He said the one grocery store that was somewhat close, was often under stocked, with poor quality produce, and always only had only one checkstand open, so the lines were long. This was in comparison to the grocery stores from the same chain, on the north side (ie where the white people live) that were always well stocked with beautiful produce, and plenty of checkstands open.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. of course its possible. But with poor education, poor motivation and the temptations engineered into processed and fast foods, along with a difficult life in general, its easy enough to see why lots do not, It seems like the private and public $$$$ being spent are largely being spent on the wrong things, wrong foods, bigger servings than necessary etc. A great deal of money is saved simply by stepping back to lesser-value-added foodstuffs, like oldfashioned oatmeal, rice, dal or beans, whole chickens (or even the leg quarters with backs which are cheap in our markets) or eggs. Serving size is also an issue - folks are clearly eating too much of what they are eating. But the whole food industry is pushing for greater and greater purchases of highly processed foods so its unlikely that there will be public efforts in this direction.

                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                                                                                                +1

                                                                                                                                                                                All true.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. I do some work with the working poor. Many or even most of the have no cooking skills at all. Some have limited kitchen applicances, except for a microwave. I think education and training is a huge barrier to eating well. They don't know how to cook. Even simple meals are to out of their reach.....

                                                                                                                                                                                1. I remember driving through West Virginia a few years ago. The towns were small and spaced far apart. The closest thing to most people was a quickie mart attached to the local gas station that sold "convenience" food.Oh, and doughnut shops - for some reason those were EVERYWHERE.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I know how to cook. I can make good food for pretty cheap. But a lot of people don't even know where to begin, especially if they're not educated (like many of the people I encountered in the state). Add in that I was in a place that didn't have a tradition of "healthy" food.

                                                                                                                                                                                  In general, a poor person who had the access, time and know-how could eat very healthy in deed. But how often is that reality?

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I didn't get fat and unhealthy until I was relatively comfortable financially.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Went back to eating like a poor guy and lost all the weight.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: redfish62

                                                                                                                                                                                      And I didn't lose weight until I started making some money.

                                                                                                                                                                                      When I was poor*, I ate a lot of starch because I could get it cheap and it was filling. I didn't know how to cook, how to stretch food and I didn't have a very sophisticated palate back then either. The idea of boiling chicken bones to make stock would have seemed scary to me and the thought of trying to cook a lot of veggies seemed daunting and most of all, too risky. Since I didn't know how to cook, if I messed something up, I couldn't just say "oh well" and eat something else. That was likely my only shot at a meal, so I'd better stick with the known.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Once I lived more comfortably, I ate out more, expanded my palate, and would buy fresh produce "just to try it out."

                                                                                                                                                                                      Now that I'm somewhat strapped again, I'm no longer afraid of cooking. I have a general idea of what to do and am much more self-reliant in the kitchen. That said, I truly hope my budget does not shrink any further, because I do find that starches are cheaper than vegetables and meat and I worry that my family might take a cut in the healthiness of foods I can prepare for them.

                                                                                                                                                                                      *As I have always been healthy, had friends and family and an expectation of future earning, I have never been truly poor in the sense of many people across the country.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: redfish62

                                                                                                                                                                                        Folks from all strata are obese in the U.S. But the poorer folks are simultaneously malnourished, while those well off eat from a wider variety and quality of foods and are not.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Poor People can eat healthy. STUPID people can't. Sometimes they are one and the same; sometimes not

                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                                                                                                                          Wow! Really? You seriously just wrote that?

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I would have to say that in my opinion, poor people CAN eat healthy. I've volunteered many times at a local food kitchen where is always fresh produce and other healthy foods donated...

                                                                                                                                                                                          I cry a little inside thinking about one day when fresh FIGS (!) were donated, but none of the people wanted them because 1) they didn't know what they were, 2) they didn't know how to eat them and 3) all they wanted was what they wanted - processed junk foods that took no effort to make or eat. I tried to educate some of them and talk them into taking some home just to TRY them, but they all snubbed their noses at them.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I think in a lot of cases it's due to being uneducated and/or lazy. Yes sometimes it's hard to find some healthy eats around, but if you educate yourself and truly want to eat better, you just may find the banana stand in the gas station.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I've been in "lurker" mode enjoying this site for some time now. This thread finally convinced me to post. I hope it's not unwelcome, and I don't intend offense. I'm simply puzzled by what the wellspring is for the acrimony surrounding this topic. I've been poor, was raised poor, am comfortable now with resources available to me that I appreciate and enjoy. Having grazed at both pastures, so to speak, these are my thoughts...

                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't see a clear-cut definition of "poor", of "uneducated", or even of "unhealthy" so far. For many people, their perceived "health" goal is to have energy and feel strong enough to pursue their day's efforts. A large "unhealthy" breakfast of fat meat, sugar-heavy cereal, and strong caffeinated beverage is what their body tells them they need to survive their day. There's also quite a bit of "the jury is still out" when it comes to what constitutes a healthy meal. One person's feast is another's famine, so to speak. There is also an element of familiarity with what one knows to work for them, as has been discussed here already, and of available resources that seem to meet those needs.

                                                                                                                                                                                            People don't generally appreciate being told what to eat, how to eat, or that what they eat is stupid, bad, evil in some way. Food is very personal. Education is fine but nothing is going to be gained by insisting one's way is the only right way. People who are making do as best they feel they're able are going to feel they've been attacked personally, their very moral integrity denigrated for something as basic and seemingly simple as their food choices. A vegetarian doesn't want to be told he or she is foolish for eschewing meat protein sources. A person who prefers a nice steak likes to believe their meal choice is tasty and comforting and filling, and would probably be rather appalled to be told they should eat only raw foods.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Medical professionals aren't necessarily nutritionists, much less the average Joe or Jane. We know what works for us, what tastes good to us, what's available to us.

                                                                                                                                                                                            It makes me sad to think yet another fine food-discussion site may collapse due to judgemental and angry attacks on food choices, I read this site because I enjoy learning new things about the world and its options, not to be scolded because I drink an occasional diet Pepsi when there's green tea in my cupboard.

                                                                                                                                                                                            "The poor" aren't a faceless entity to be disdained or cajoled or extorted or even educated. They are us. We've been there, presumably, many if not most people experience times in life when their resources, time, options are limited and yet people muddle on. I don't look down my nose at someone who is overweight, or fret that person is picking my pocket. Life is complicated, unfair sometimes, but in the big picture we all do the best we can with what we have, and I'd hope people would have perspective who have education that presumably broadened their horizons.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Ok, done. I hope I can post to other threads about food and enjoyment of food, and you also continue to provide the World Wide Web with a fine website that embraces differences and doesn't implode because those differences become insurmountable.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: afridgetoofar

                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, and welcome to CH as a poster!

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: afridgetoofar

                                                                                                                                                                                                That was nicely stated.
                                                                                                                                                                                                In spite of the idea advanced above that the poor all have iphones and are immersed in their screens, most poor folks are not sitting and posting on a "sophisticated" food site increasingly populated by younger urban hipsters, rather than an actual cross section of society. They are either out searching for work, or working, or trying to get by.
                                                                                                                                                                                                Post away. New voices are always refreshing.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Folks, this thread is continuing to go off on tangents and is increasingly unfriendly. We're going to lock it now.