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February 20, 2006


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Marie St.Pierre

In general I agree with the observations by Harriet Brown, but she misses one point: Good eating habits increasingly have less to do with nationality but more with earnings power. The higher the income the healthier the eating habits. Most French people eat less healthier than in the past. As real disposable incomes decline especially for the younger generation it is hard for them to follow the old eating habits.
Similar to other industrialized countries jobs in France are more and more in the large urban areas, where eating on the run is the norm. I advise Ms.Brown to visit the supermarkets in my home country and take a look at the dizzying selection of frozen food not to speak of the many fast food outlets dotting our urban landscape nowadays.


My patients are among the poor folk with bad eating habits.
For $3 you can get a double cheeseburger, fries, and small soda at McDonald's (off the $1 menu). Try to find a meal, or the makings of a meal, for $3. It isn't always income per se, but cash flow. And if you are working 2 or 3 minimum wage jobs to pay the rent and utilities, when will you have time to cook ahead (even assuming that you have the storage space for the raw ingredients and the cash to buy a few days' worth of groceries)? To say nothing of the cognitive skills to cook from scratch. They stopped doing Home Ec in most public schools about 25 years ago. The food channel assumes a level of knowledge that is beyond many of my patients.
I keep telling the public health folks that we need to have a healthy cooking class, that starts with the budget allowed by food stamps for a family of 3 (one mom, 2 kids) and shows how to plan a menu, make a shopping list, adapt when there are low price specials, and then cook and serve a meal or three.
Several years ago, the Los Angeles Times did a feature where they gave several cooks a ten dollar bill and told them to plan and cook a meal for 4 persons using just that ten dollars. The only condiments allowed to be added in were salt and pepper and any condiments that they could find for free at fast food places - and they limited the number of packets that could be gleaned. It was a humbling experience, to say the least. Nowadays, I think the equivalent $$ would be closer to 20 - but still - can't you see how a 3 dollar 'meal' at McDonalds becomes the norm?

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Lee Anne

Good idea. Trying to add widget for that.

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