Food is weird.
Not as weird as our attitudes toward food, but still, weird.
I heard a piece on NPR the other day about Depression-Era food. “Good” food then included very bland food (“immigrant” spicy food was bad because spices were stimulants and could lead to opiate addiction) and mayonnaise-y slimy. Milk was the all-important ingredient for good nutrition and if it came in a can it was modern and wonderful.
Thrift and nutrition went hand in hand (even if those hands hadn’t been washed very well).
The need for thrift and nutrition hasn’t gone away. One summer during graduate school I pretty much lived on Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (25 cents a box; quarter cup of margarine, quarter cup of milk) and green beans (frozen). Not exactly a gourmet menu, but it fit with my time availability (minimal), budget (minimal), and kitchen (big, but shared with 7 guys who were less than motivated to clean).
I lost some weight that summer and managed to have some money saved by the time I went back to school. Win-win-win.
These days we think about food a little differently. We know the importance of fresh food (especially if you can keep the squirrels from eating the tomatoes—Dad’s having problems again). We know that spices liven food up and that there is not a direct correlation between olives and heroine.
And we know that “real” food is expensive while overly processed food is cheap. We worry about places where there are food oases. We worry about lack of nutrition for many people.
But it turns out that eating well doesn’t require lugging a sack of gold coins to the grocery store once a week.
There are still plenty of ways to eat well without spending a fortune.
Tomorrow: How to Save Money and Eat Well at College.