Friday, August 19, 2011

Day Old

Luxury: Silly to call it anything else

Restaurant Week in Washington, DC brings "specials" of multi-course lunches and dinners at reduced prices to incentivize people to try new places and lure in business.  I tend to take full advantage of the week dropping into places I would otherwise never try.  After meals this week at restaurants in both the Four Seasons (excellent food and service) and the St. Regis (ok food and terrible service), I was certainly fully confronted with two distinct ways of life.  On the one hand, people forced to compromise what they eat on a daily basis due to lack of options or lack of funds and whom the organizations I visit and (err..sometimes...)write about on this blog work to assist.  On the other, people for whom "restaurant week" discounts are unnecessary, possibly even disdainful, and to whom the price of food is merely an afterthought.

In that vein, here are a few links to get you thinking more about issues of food justice and food equity and what it really means to eat "well":

  • Slow Food USA's $5 Challenge: Slow Food takes a lot of heat for being "elitist" with critics calling the idea of a meal that takes time to prepare "unrealistic" for most Americans.  The argument for preparing foods from scratch is much more complicated than that though.  Whichever side you lean towards, the idea behind this event on September 17, 2011 is a good one.  Gather with friends and family.  Prepare a meal that doesn't cost more than $5 per person (the average cost of a fast food meal).  Share in community and realize that not everyone has $5 a person to spend. Discuss change. I'm hosting one for my friends-come by if you're in town!
  • Check out this STIR blog after you consider that event.  It really digs into to some of the issues and potential inadequacies of the Food Justice movement.  Many of the things the author mentions are concerns I have daily.  An important take-away: changing the system has to come from those of us who are blessed with the opportunity of choice.  Your decisions at the grocery store or market affect every demographic around you.  Don't underestimate the power of voting with your fork!
  • The People's Grocery in West Oakland is one organization that is actually keeping not just access, but job creation and health integration in mind.  In this piece, they lay out their wish list for improving the eating habits of a community. 
  • Reuters' Supermarkets in Food Deserts story: Many hope placing more grocery stores in areas labeled "food deserts" will be enough to improve the diets of many Americans.  It's not.  But, it's a start none-the-less.  Read about the differences giant supermarket masterminds and small, independent groceries can have in low-income communities in this piece.
  • Finally, for those wanting to keep costs low and still eat sustainably, here's a story with tips for eating locally AND affordably.
Chew on that over your weekend.

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