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Feb 10, 2012

Cheap Food

Let us first define cheap food as food that is inexpensive, but not of low quality. We can even add that this category of food needs to be wholesome in some way in regard to taste and nutritional content. There exists via the internet the ability to view literally thousands of recipes from countries all around the globe. So often inexpensive food translates into food that is inferior in both taste and content.
Up until recently people shared recipes with other folks that they interacted with and knew personally. The internet has changed this. When I surf the internet searching for cheap food recipes, I can gauge the inexpensive nature of the recipe by mentally adding up the cost of the ingredients, but I can't really evaluate the quality of taste. So, in an effort to eliminate the tedium of cooking every meal that you come across, you must first find a cook whose food you like.
I have tasted foods from around the world and find that the vast amount of cheap food is prepared rather poorly. The novelty of a kid eating land crab stew on an island in Honduras does not disguise the everyday low quality of food that characterizes the staple diet of the poor. If you were to ask a schoolroom full of Nicaraguan kids whether they knew someone in their immediate or extended family that had diabetes, most of the children would nod their head.
Cheap food done right is really an art that has been passed down for a few hundred years. Braised pig's feet may now be a popular delicacy on the menus of the upscale eateries in town, but it originated from a time when survival depended on utilizing all parts of the beast. Even the wealthy lived under this edict of nature. Cheap food meant the pickling and drying of foods; it meant using all possible means to store food. This now seems trivial to many of us westerners.
Cheap food in today's world usually means industrialized fast food, even to the poor. In Portland, Oregon the poor are able to use food stamps at the farmer's markets where the farmers come to sell directly to the public. So often inexpensive food, such as fast food, comes with costs that are not immediately apparent: the medical costs to the individual and society do not occur until years of eating fast food have passed. Cheap food can be done right; it can be easy on the wallet but still stock full of nutrients to keep us healthy.