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Jul 15, 2014 04:14 PM

Great new program teaches people in 'food deserts' about healthy eating, shopping and cooking.

This made me so happy and I'm hoping this program thrives and spreads:

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  1. I got a virus warning at that site.

    40 Replies
    1. re: mcf

      That's weird. I didn't. Civil Eats is one of the best food news sites I know.

      Anyway, here's a link straight to the organization/program the article discusses:

      1. re: ninrn

        I unblocked it and found that it's not a program based on meeting needs for healthy food, but propaganda for solely plant based nutrition. Great if those needy folks can afford some quality, bioavailable proteins on their own.

        "Foods like grains and beans are not only healthy, they’re inexpensive. If those become the foundation of a meal, they pack a ton of nutrition for your dollar."

        Nutrition packed per buck compared to meat, fish and dairy, NO.

        1. re: mcf

          They actually said on the website: "Cheetos = cocaine".

          1. re: NonnieMuss

            it's exploitation of the most cynical kind.

          2. re: mcf

            Mcf, I know you have had great success following an animal-food-centered diet and that you have a lot of knowledge about how that diet works and how it can help a lot with certain health problems. I have a great deal of respect for you and sincere gratitude for all the information you generously share. But your comments about this program are unfair and misleading. It is not cynical or exploitive. It's a sincere attempt by a small group of people to teach others about more naturally produced food and the dietary practices that have worked for them. Not so terribly different from what you do.

            And a plant-based diet really does work well for a lot of people. In fact, one of the reasons I found it so hard to admit I was having problems on a vegetarian diet was that so many of the most radiantly healthy, clear-minded and productive people I've ever met have been vegetarians. People differ.

            But even if one does not opt for a plant-based diet, learning about how to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into ones diet is a great way to start learning about food and its production. I don't think there is anyone anywhere who would say that a problem with the standard diet in underprivileged US homes is that it contains too much fresh produce.

            I hope other people viewing this thread will read about this program for themselves.

            And NonnieMuss, I have read through a number of pages on the Groceryship site and nowhere do I see the phrase "Cheetos = cocaine".

            1. re: ninrn

              I disagree about their motives; I think they're exploiting the desperation of those in dire need to push a vegan agenda.

              Some folks do okay on plant based diets. Many, if not most, do not. In any case, not allowing for the purchase of whatever is best for those in need without demanding that they abandon their own foodways entirely is patronizing. Teaching about production or food prep should include all the range of nutrition.

              Calling grains and beans the center of a nutrition packed meal is false, misleading and cruel. It's why, as Gary Taubes notes, the poor end up simultaneously obese and severely malnourished.

              I came to my conclusion by reading it for myself, I'm assuming others who commented did too.

              If they were providing money for the whole range of foods, I would not call it propaganda, but as it is, and looking at their goals, I think that's what it is.

              1. re: mcf

                How would you recommend people in food desserts, limited income eat?

                1. re: chowser

                  I don't know about y'all, but when I was a kid, we ate a hellluva lot of beans.

                  A helluva lot of the world's peoples seem to be doing pretty well on legumes as their primary protein, as well.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    Me, too. I think beans can be a great inexpensive source of nutrients.

                    1. re: chowser

                      I think folks should be offered the truthful information about all nutrients, how to use them and get the most nutrition they can out of every calorie.

                      To avoid doing so for philosophical reasons to advance a personal philosophy is exploitive, that's my point.

                      I've no intention of getting into a citation battle or nutrition myths debate. Limiting hungry people's nutritional choices to one's own is wrong, period.

                      1. re: mcf

                        "To avoid doing so for philosophical reasons to advance a personal philosophy is exploitive, that's my point."

                        I'm going to bow out of this because i know you're an avid supporter of Taubes being the only way to eat healthfully.

                        1. re: chowser

                          But I haven't made that argument here, so that's a straw man.

                          My position means that if I were running such a program, I would furnish information on both how to eat optimally on plant based, vegetarian and animal protein inclusive diets, and provide skills for all types of consumers.

                          Specifically, I'm against forcing others to eat or believe what I personally do is what they must do.

                          1. re: mcf

                            but you gotta start somewhere, and NOT overwhelming people with information and choices is a really good start.

                            Walk before run, etc., etc.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              This program is about changing everything about how these folks approach and understand food. Forgive me, but inclusion of another protein source they're familiar with is not a confounding issue..

                              1. re: mcf

                                but they may not be familiar with a piece of *raw* chicken.

                                Fried and handed through a drive-up window, but do they have any idea how to cook it? And there's still the cost issue.

                                I'm continually amazed by how many college-educated, well-employed people I encounter who have no idea how to feed themselves from their own kitchen -- it follows that those who have not had the privilege of higher education or higher wages would have proportionately less knowledge of what to do with a bag of beans or a package of chicken.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  Isn't lack of familiarity the point of the whole program?

                                  1. re: mcf

                                    of course it point being, however, that it's far more important to get folks capable of feeding themselves first.

                                    When they're feeding themselves and have the time or inclination to move forward, then we can start differentiating between all the different theories of health and diet.

                                    But we have to start with what is accessible and affordable.

                      2. re: chowser

                        I never said they couldn't. I said there should be other choices that are more nutrient dense and not so lacking in usable protein.

                    2. re: chowser

                      I'd offer a full range of options and education, urge those with very limited means to get the biggest nutrient and protein bang per calorie and let them decide the rest.

                      1. re: mcf

                        The full range of options would be a tease for them since they can't afford most of them: "Grass fed is so much better for you than factory farmed meat" when they can't afford even factory farmed meat isn't helpful.

                        "biggest nutrient and protein bang per calorie"

                        That's the question, though--what do they have access to that they can afford? It's only a decision when they have options. Eating a big plate of fresh greens, wild alaskan salmon or grass fed beef isn't an option. I've seen pasta, cheap canned goods, bread, beans, cereal, peanut butter and then the assorted sodas/junk fod like chips, candy, cookies in stores in inner cities. That's also about what we pass out in the pantry minus the soda or processed junk food. For them, sometimes the best option is the tomato sauce over whole grain pasta, bean soup w/ canned vegetables.

                        1. re: chowser

                          Let's not stoop to elitist vs. what's possible, k?

                          There are so many options for accessing low cost quality proteins but the propagandists don't want to broaden the options. Further, if those in need have the means due to the produce provided, to buy some proteins, they should learn which to buy, where and how to buy, prep and store it, too. If the goal is to prepare them and educate them.

                          I know what's in the food bank and most of it is junk, yes. It's why I always donate proteins.

                          1. re: mcf

                            "There are so many options for accessing low cost quality proteins "

                            Such as? I'm truly curious because it would be a great way to supply the pantry that is lacking in protein.

                            And then it's a matter of coming up with a solution for educating them on all that you've said. But if you're only going to attack those who are doing what they think is best w/out coming out w/ an alternative, you're part of the problem (not you specifically, in generally). And, I'm guessing those people will feel that your program is propaganda, too, but that's the benefit of providing all the information and not just one side. The people who started the site seem to have the best interest of others at heart. They might have a different view than you but that doesn't make them deserving of being attacked.

                            1. re: chowser

                              it's also pretty commonly held by an enormous amount of scientists that this big blue marble that we're riding on is simply not going to be able to support a meat-centric diet for all that much longer.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                We can ill afford the destructive practices of agribusiness grain and produce production, either. Our entire food production system is sickening and must change.


                                A lot of erroneous stuff is "commonly believed." Hardly a convincing criterion for credulity. :-)

                              2. re: chowser

                                I'm surprised you're not aware of the mobile food bank delivery into food deserts as we have where I live from regional food banks and feeding programs. In my neck of the woods, this has involved setting up low cost food bank satellite locations for pantry items, too, but the date and time of the vans is made well known and food is dropped off on a predictable schedule so it can be incorporated into the routines of those relying on them.

                                In addition, there are organizations that arrange for similar coupon or allowances for farmer's markets and arrange for their presence in food desert communities;

                                There are large supermarket chains that donate, including mostly frozen meats, like poultry, and other close to sell by date donations as well.

                                There are even organizations that are mobile on a daily basis, picking up and distributing the unused, unserved foods from caterers, restaurants, bakeries, markets, etc. and deliver them to sites. Some organizations have community volunteers distributing perishables from personal vans/vehicles.

                                Co-ops run non profit by a well organized community can be a great place to pick up food free or low cost while coming in for classes about their use.

                                The solutions are limited by vision, more than logistics. If folks can't get to the food, you bring the food to them, whatever diet they're on.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  but at some point you still have to teach folks what to do with it (healthily, if possible) -- because if they don't know what it is, or how to prepare it, it will either get chucked in the trash when it starts to stink, or they won't take it in the first place.

                                  Education and supply go hand in hand.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    That's what I've said, consistently.

                                  2. re: mcf

                                    It could be that I'm not aware of the mobile food banks because we don't have them here. We get donations from Starbucks, Panera, etc but mostly muffins, croissants. For fear of liability, many restaurants won't donate. Stores donate some frozen meats but not enough for people to have meat more than twice a week. We get a good amount of donations but it's more the non-perishables. Regardless of whether the solution is due to poor vision or logistics, it doesn't change the fact that these people don't have access to a lot of meat proteins but do have access to other things. There are many limitations from getting enough volunteers to pick up the food to having enough storage for frozen items. To the people picking up their bags, it's irrelevant.

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      My point is that a program to improve access should be improving ACCESS. I listed ways it's done by those not advancing a meat free agenda in other food deserts.

                                      1. re: mcf

                                        I think most people would like to help others w/ more access to better food. We all approach solutions to problems differently so I'm not going slam someone for approaching it in their way.

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          I'll say this one last time; in my personal opinion, they're about promotion of animal welfare, not human.

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              Those are articles, not sustenance brought to a community.

                                              DONE and done.

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                but it's a fair amount of pixel space dedicated to the production of meat for an organization that is allegedly anti-meat.

                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                    If they were anti-meat, they wouldn't be giving any space at all to the production of meat.

                                                    Organizations need publicity in order to survive -- so they talk about things they are doing with their organization to help people find....meat, in this particular instance. Other articles tlk about other ways they're helping connect people with food.

                                                    Not many charities out there who are surviving without current social-media marketing -- whether that's Facebook, Twitter, or an article on their blog.

                                                    If they don't make their presence known, they can't find volunteers or donors.

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      Just to clarify, Civil Eats is an online food news publication that reported about the Groceryship program. They have no involvement with the program otherwise.

                      2. re: ninrn

                        "Quite simply, these foods are designed for us not to be able to stop eating them. In the Groceryships program, we use a mantra to help us remember this:

                        Cheetos = Cocaine."

                        It's under the section "The Problem".
                        Forgive me for dredging this up after so long, but somehow I didn't see your response until today.

                2. The Boston Cooking School ( initially tried to give new immigrants cooking classes (1880). But there wasn't enough interest, and they ended up focusing on rising middle classes. Fannie Farmer Cookbook came out of that school.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: paulj

                    but most of those immigrants knew how to cook, and inner cities weren't bereft of fresh foods, nor heavily stocked with Red Bull and Cheetos.

                    Different times-- this falls closer to the one giving a man a fish vs teaching a man to fish.

                    It's appalling, but a frightening percentage of people in these food deserts don't know anything about nutrition, and even less about making healthy, affordable food.

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      Well, the BCC people didn't think the immigrants knew the important things about cooking and nutrition either. They were cooking pasta and greens, not healthy American meat and potatoes.

                      1. re: paulj

                        the way I read the article, the school was founded primarily ""to offer instruction in cooking to those who wished to earn their livelihood as cooks" -- and the lower income, immigrant neighborhoods of North Boston were a prime source of household help. Teach the poor heathens how to make a proper meal, donchaknow.

                        Backed up by the mention of the offering of more advanced lessons for upper-class women (and their cooks). I'm really not seeing too many upper-class women heading into North Boston to sit through a cooking class. That's what the cook was for.

                        The only mention of nutrition is in relation to the courses offered to students at Harvard (all men, I'm guessing, as was the custom at the time).

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          I need to make a correction to my earlier post, it was about the New England Kitchen (not the Boston Cooking School).
                          from the full transcript:
                          "CHARLOTTE BILTEKOFF: Well, the New England Kitchen began in one of Boston’s poor neighborhoods. And the idea was that the working poor in this neighborhood, immigrants and factory workers, et cetera, would bring their lunch pails into the New England Kitchen and there they would be exposed to the silent teacher of cleanliness and hygienic methods."
                          " This is in the mid 1890s as the New England Kitchen, and all of the public kitchens that had grown up to replicate it, were failing. The domestic scientists turned their attention to what they called the intelligent middle classes."


                    2. re: paulj

                      People like the familiarity of their culture and tradtion, of which food is a huge component.