August 2012

Poor people aren't the ones eating at McDonald's

But that doesn't stop the middle class from pointing fingers.

Reporter Tracie McMillan has spent a lot of time analyzing what Americans really do with their food - how they get it, and where it goes. And she has come to some interesting, and occasionally counter-intuitive results.

The debate that swirls around poverty, obesity, and food dollars is hotly contested and often ugly. Many people assume that the poor are obese because all they do is eat at McDonald's. But as McMillan points out, the poor are on SNAP (a.k.a. "food stamps") and SNAP only buys you food at the grocery store. It doesn't work at McDonald's or any other fast food chain. (Although some municipalities are working to change that. That's a whole 'nother argument.)
Study after study shows that in fact, it is the middle class which is eating at McDonald's. The upper class either goes out to restaurants or hires a personal chef. The working class either cooks meals at home or skips them altogether. (1 in 25 Americans admit to skipping a meal because they couldn't afford it.)
If you have ever been poor, these results are unsurprising. A meal at McDonald's costs between $3-7 per person, and that's a lot of money if you are making minimum wage. Most people under the poverty level are aiming for a per-meal cost of $1 per person or less, and that includes SNAP funds.

Fun things you can do with marshmallows

Tasty marshmallow creations

My youngest daughter is obsessed with marshmallows. She literally goes crazy when she sees one. Instead of just handing her a few plain marshmallows, I look for ways I can make the marshmallows more exciting to eat. Here is what I have come up with:

Marshmallow kabobs: Take a bamboo skewer and slide a marshmallow half way down. Next, slide a strawberry and then another marshmallow. Follow that with a cantaloupe ball and another marshmallow. Finish up with a ball of watermelon and another marshmallow to top it all off.

Yogurt marshmallow pops: Place a marshmallow on the end of a popsicle stick. Dunk it in a cup of yogurt (whatever flavor you like) and roll it in graham cracker crumbs. Place it in freezer for a few minutes so that the yogurt hardens up a bit. Eat away.

The truth about food waste

You're not the one wasting it - groceries and restaurants are to blame

I'm sure you have seen the headlines. "Americans Waste 40 Percent Of Their Food." It catches your attention, doesn't it? And it feeds perfectly into the image of the fat, wasteful American. But who ARE these people who are throwing away almost half of the food they buy?

Well, it turns out that this statistic is misleading. And so are the articles and news stories built around it.
Here is the truth: commercial places like restaurants and grocery stores throw away 40 percent of their food. The problem isn't you and I, it's them. The invisible corporate machine that would rather try to convince you that this is your personal problem to solve. Just like so many other problems, the effort is to convince Americans that they are bad people who are at fault, while the corporations get off free. This is true of emissions (personal vehicles account for only 5 percent of total emissions), recycling, oil usage, plastic waste… for just about any environmental problem you would care to identify, our personal actions are only the tip of the iceberg.

How to make real stove top popcorn

It's easy and delicious to make popcorn from the kernels!

Microwave popcorn is a Godsend, don't get me wrong. But if you want to avoid all the crazy chemicals, control the ingredients (I recently went gluten free, and while popcorn itself is gluten free, microwave popcorn often contains gluten), or make a delicious snack (okay… meal) for a fraction of the price, "real popcorn" is the way to go.

But how do you make popcorn using just the kernels and a pan? Don't worry, it's easy!
First, some basic principles. 

Quick and easy cucumber wraps

A delicious veggie side dish

Looking for a delicious veggie side dish to munch on at lunch? How about a quick and easy cucumber wrap? My kids and I love this recipe, which is great because I don't have to fight with the girls to get their daily vegetables in.

You will need the following items for your cucumber wrap:

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 sweet pickle
  • Handful sprouts
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1 vegetable dip dry mix packet

Fat people bumper stickers

This really is the last form of widely accepted prejudice in America.

There are plenty of homophobia, racism, sexism and other 'isms' to go around (I always wonder why homophobia isn’t called homism or something instead, since these people are obviously full of hate rather than fear, although I suppose that’s where the hate stems from…), but if you’re expressing any of these things you’re likely going to get called out on it by somebody. They are slowly, slowly dissipating in this country, which I’m grateful for yet very impatient with, since this is two thousand bloody twelve and progress seems to take centuries.

But if you express hate for people who are fat, by George, you’re in good company. It seems like being fat is the one thing that everyone can agree is BAD in America—not using (or letting teens use) cancer-causing tanning beds, not smoking, not drinking, but simply being fat—and it’s the one thing people are banding together to hate in droves. I can be a feminist, an LGBT marriage supporter, a progressive activist for the environment and health care—but people from all of these groups and more will wrinkle their noses at me and ask me if I’ve thought about getting my stomach stapled.

Believe me, I have. Every fat person has, so why ask? Do you think we really don’t know we’re fat?

Homemade French fries

Easy recipe to make at home.

My kids are always begging me to make homemade French fries. Of course, the taste of homemade food far exceeds that of the prepackaged food so I can understand their desire. Making homemade French fries is quite easy once you have all the peeling and chopping finished.

First, decide how many potatoes you need. I use five Idaho or Russet potatoes for three people. I like to have a few extra French fries to heat up the next day.

Next, wash the potatoes under a faucet of running water. Then you can decide if you want to peel the potatoes. There are nutrients in the peels. I tend to peel some of the skin, but not all of it.

Cut the potatoes in the thickness that you like them. I try to make them look like skinny sticks just like they do at McDonalds, but my father prefers them more like steak fries.

EasyLunchBoxes save the day

It's back to school shopping for most of us this month. My youngest daughter attends a special needs school because she has a rare neuro-genetic disorder called Angelman Syndrome. Her school doesn't require parents to purchase or send in any supplies. The only thing I have to buy for her is a book bag to hold her diapers, extra outfit, school communication folder (that the school supplies), smock for eating and swim clothes if it happens to be swim day.

I choose to also purchase a lunch box rather than pay for my daughter to eat meals at school. I do this for several reasons, one of which being that her schedule doesn't match up with everyone else's. She often refuses breakfast, which makes her hungry again a little while after lunch. I end up sending in a breakfast and two lunches. All this food doesn't fit in standard lunch boxes. That is why I was so excited to discover EasyLunchBoxes.