Sunday, October 23, 2011

Getting Good Veggies For a Fair Price

I've been working on video blogs for Mobli lately but don't fear: I will continue to write here. For one thing, some of my rants would take way too much time to do in 1 video. I mean, who's going to watch a 20 minute video of me ranting?

Not to mention getting those out is harder than you'd think. I'm a perfectionist on that sort of thing so I don't stumble on my words or lose my train of thought. One slip up & (for me at least) you have to start again.

I also think you need the literary take on it and I'm not going to start writing out links for viewers to go read & then have to come back to. Doesn't make much sense, does it?

So for now, I'm doing both.

One issue that's really been a thorn in my side is trying to get fresh vegetables at a fair price & in the proper condition. This pisses me off because I happen to like salad. I've actually liked carrots & bell peppers ever since I was a little kid. If you've not read enough of this blog to conclude that I was a strange child (consider how we played Barbie, for instance), that fact should clinch it for you. Didn't grow up in a health conscious, pro-hippie household or anything but yeah, I do happen to like salad.

I also like finding lettuce and other fixings that are actually fit for human consumption.

So I know there's been all the bad crops, seasonal change & the like. I also know about the presence of farmer's markets (and if you can find me one in or near NYC with fair prices for bell peppers, lettuce & the like that is fit for human consumption + doesn't require me to pay a toll to get there, I'm all ears; $2.50+ a lb. for green pepper is NOT fair in my book). I would love to grow my own bell peppers (did so successfully when I was younger) but the problem is, I don't have land for it & if I tried planting anything in my home, the cat would inevitably chew on any plant that grew. He does this all the time with flowers but for some unknown reason, he barely touched any of the cat grass we grew specifically for him.

What do I mean by "fit for human consumption"? Let's see:

1. No lettuce that has brown sogginess outside it! I've actually seen this on heads in the grocery store & it disgusts me. It also makes me not want to continue digging in that lettuce pile for anything good since the rest are probably just like it (or worse).
2. No lettuce with excessive rust discoloration! I know that means the lettuce is old/in the process of going bad. I've sliced it enough myself to know what it means.
3. No wrinkled peppers!
4. No peppers with black spots on them! My husband once got one for me at the store. When I cut it open, it had what appeared to be worms in it. There was whiteness & movement that looked worm like. I still have trauma from that when I slice open a green pepper.
5. No produce with any hit of bugs nearby. No one wants to buy anything that's got fruit flies or anything else on or near it.
6. No rotten produce! I saw black apples being offered for sale just yesterday.

I think there should be some changes in the law, merchant policies or someplace to stop this crap being sold at full price in grocery stores. Do you really think I'm paying $1.99 for a head of lettuce that's got brown sogginess on it? If you do, you're a moron & you're insulting my intelligence. Nice way to encourage shoppers to return to your store! How about a little personal pride?

Just yesterday, I got a pepper that showed no problems on the outside but when I opened it, half of it was black inside. Isn't that gross? So let's also have a rule against produce with hidden nastiness if the store or the seller should have known about it but didn't bother to tell anyone!

There are some locations that I adamantly will not shop at for fresh vegetables because their policies are so lax on many things or I've just seen crud quality anytime I bothered to look. Wal-Mart is one of them. I know all the stories about people buying perishables there only to have them turn very quickly. The meat stories alone are enough for me to distrust their produce. I also remember hearing some horror stories about veggies bought there as well.

So in light of this, I find it very funny that Michelle Obama wants to encourage places to have fresh produce for poor neighborhoods & to make them accessible to all to combat the obesity issue. Maybe she should be making sure these places aren't just pricing them at $1.00 a pound or some reasonable price when the vegetables are turning and slimy. You can find cheap produce in many places but the quality is dubious to say the least (a green market down the street from me is a prime example; unless you get there right when the shipment arrives, you'll be getting rubber peppers and stuff in a condition guides would tell you should be thrown away & not fed to your loved ones).

Those things I mentioned have been present at places I go even when those particular veggies weren't on sale. Sorry, but I shouldn't have to pay $5 a pound for something just to get fresh quality. There needs to be some truth in advertising and basic standards involved. TV dinners & processed food do, in fact, make you sick. My husband & I noticed this most strongly after I started to do my own cooking, coming up with much better food that didn't cause nasty stomach pain after eating it. We also cut out soda & haven't missed it, especially when the prices for that have been sky high.

Now, if you think that means I'm a vegetarian or only eat organic, you're wrong. I've not noticed much positive difference in getting organic food & at the end of the day, I am frugal.

I don't view buying organic food or even getting fresh produce as true choices for most people. A choice isn't real if you can't afford it or you can't carry it out without some excessive cost. If I can't go recycle the special lightbulbs in a convenient way (since you can't directly thrown them in the trash b/c of the mercury in them), how would I possibly be able to make that choice? The "choice" has been made for me!

The "choice" is being made for others if organic items cost too much money or all the produce sold someplace is moldy, wrinkled, covered in bugs, rotten, etc. There's no real choice if the farmer's market is 2 hours away or you don't have a car to drive there or you have to pay tolls or who knows what else. You can call these explanations excuses but I call them being pragmatic & realistic about human behavior. When you don't make something convenient, accessible to all, and affordable within everyone's budget, you aren't going to get the result you want.

So while I think it's a noble goal to make fresh produce & healthy foods accessible to all, you have to do a little more than tell the local bodega to sell them. You have to have them priced fairly. You have to insist on a quality standard for what people sell & punish people for violating it. Otherwise, people are going to choose the fast food hamburger over the chemically sprayed meat that will go bad tomorrow any time.

For you harpies who want to scream about health care costs & environmental damage, why don't you get off your overindulgent behinds & start subsidizing the costs & hassles so people WILL make those choices? How about you employers start offering fresh, healthy food at a price equal to the junk or at a comparable rate? How about those of you spending your money on organic food or "going green" start an organization or fund one that tries to make these true options for people with less money? Until then, you can shut the hell up & kiss my ass.

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