Millions Of People Cannot Cook From Scratch From Food They Bought At A Farmers Market


CNN, 9 August 2016: “Roman police officers cook dinner for an elderly couple beset by loneliness.”

You know this irks me, right? Millions of people … the elderly, the frail, the lonely, single parents, the disabled (the blind, people in wheelchairs, people in chronic pain, people with dementia), migrant farm workers, the institutionalized, people with low incomes, anyone stretched for time… cannot cook from scratch from food they grew themselves or purchased at a farmers market. Why do foodies keep saying they should? These claims are for a special group of healthy, privileged people. And the claim-makers, as far as I can tell, are blind to their prejudices.

Recall this exerpt from Marj’s link about the elderly couple who moved in with their daughter:

“By December 2014, it became apparent my parents could no longer live without meal assistance. They were relying more and more on convenience and fast foods, common among the elderly, and I felt this was contributing to their continuing decline.”

Contrast that with:

Meet the Woman Who Gave Michael Pollan His “Eat Food” Line, Food52, 27 July 2016

“She can’t stand to be in grocery stores.”

Where do people get their food then?

“… and fears that innovations like boxed meal kits could kill CSAs [Community Supported Agriculture].”

Boxed meal kits are even more expensive, more exclusive than CSAs. The market for them will always be small. Mark Bittman left the New York Times and traveled to California to start a meal kit business called the Purple Carrot, calling it a product for “the upper middle class.” (I just read that Bittman left that venture.)

“She eats almost exclusively what she grows, even in winter [outside New York City].”

How many people can do this?

“Joan has been telling us all along: to just eat food, to garden, and for those who don’t have access to a garden — like me, I told her on the phone — well, join a CSA, she said, shop the farmers market, find a community garden.”

You have to care. You have to offer realistic solutions. None of this preaching means anything if people can’t do it. You may as well be telling them to eat cake.

10 thoughts on “Millions Of People Cannot Cook From Scratch From Food They Bought At A Farmers Market

  1. Simka Johnson

    Thank you for this article. Many people have disabilities or physical constraints, as well as NO MONEY. What has helped me is a rice cooker and a small crock pot. (I found out about rice cookers on the late Roger Eberts blog about ‘the pot and how to use it’. Made a great difference to me.


  2. Pingback: “The Legend Of The Legendary Rice Cooker: A Quest For Love.” By Bobbie Liang | Fanatic Cook

  3. Melinda

    I keep thinking of easy-to -cook things that aren’t junk food, aren’t expensive, and that are available in supermarkets–frozen veggies (which you’ve said you buy a lot!), fresh fruit like bananas, canned beans, noodles, lettuces, nuts, cereals, canned soups, applesauce, bread. You don’t have to join a CSA (I didn’t this year) or go to a farmers’ market (which is expensive). Just go to the supermarket chains. Ground beef/canned fish (e.g., sardines) are easy & inexpensive for people who eat animal protein but don’t or can’t cook. In Media, where I live, there’s a food pantry in a church basement where everything is free (donated by local stores, people with an overage in what they’ve grown in community gardens, etc.). Other towns around here, where people are poor, also have food pantries. There’s Philabundance in Philly, and similar groups in Chester, Lansdowne, etc. There also are county-sponsored transportation services (to get folks to dr. appts, grocery stores, etc., and other county services to help with rent, mortage, other expenses.


    1. Bix Post author

      Good suggestions there. Everything but the “animal protein.” Plant protein is the way to go.

      I’m on a noodle kick. A pasta kick. I’ve been trying lots of different kinds. I’m hooked on very thin capellini right now but just bought some whole wheat orzo. Nah. May look for the Japanese noodles next if I can find them … udon, soba, ramen.


  4. Melinda

    Well, I don’t eat animal protein, but I was trying to think like the people you refer to, elderly people who grew up accustomed to eating meat & fish…. Totally agree w/ you re plant protein. Making split pea soup for dinner tonight–easy & cheap & delicious!


    1. Bix Post author

      Yes. Some people don’t know any better. Some people do, yet they continue to engage in bad habits when they have a choice. What do we do? What if we care about these people? I have heard lots of excuses … “this was the way I was raised,” “but I like burgers, chicken nuggets, pizza, _______,” “we’re going to die of something.” Or they feign ignorance over and over again, “I didn’t know!” Or they outright disagree, “I don’t believe any of that stuff.” Or simply, “I can’t.” It’s hard to watch someone you care about drink or smoke themselves into oblivion. Given my research in the last decade, I’ll add eating lots of animal food to that.


  5. Melinda

    I adore capellini!!!!! Super thin! With a tomato sauce and a can of beans mixed in. Yummo! The Japanese buckwheat noodles are great, but they’re expensive, even in the supermarkets. I’ll look for a recipe I used to have for “cold noodles with hot sesame sauce.” Divine!


    1. Melinda

      Ya know, I love meat. But I *still* don’t eat it, partly for health reasons and partly to avoid participating in the unbelievable cruelty of large-scale beef/pork/lamb/poultry production. Couldn’t live with myself if I helped support that system.



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