I’m so tired of people acting like being poor automatically makes you a frozen pizza eating, Twinkie-huffing heifer that bathes in melted semi-sweet chocolate chips.
At that psychological test my kids did a while back my 4 year old couldn’t identify a cartoon picture of a kiwi. I can assure you, that girl has eaten and enjoyed kiwi on several occasions. I think there is nothing deficient with the parenting of a child that can’t immediately identify an artichoke. He or she may think a rutabaga is a grapefruit because maybe the kid has never had a rutabaga…but I cook a lot and only started cooking with rutabaga regularly when they became a regular thing at the food pantry. To be completely honest, when I got the first one I had to do a Google image search to figure out what it was, so there’s that.
Yes, there are poor kids who don’t know what veggies are what. My biggest pet peeve, however is shock value b.s. like this:
Take a bunch of six year olds and ask them what the bright, shiny red thing is. BE AMAZED when they don’t know. Act like it’s a countrywide epidemic. (No, I haven’t gotten to the reasons yet, I’m just complaining. Sorry about that.)
Okay, so about not liking fruits and veggies. At the psychological testing for my kids, we were the lucky recipients of a fruit and vegetable delivery once a week for a month from a local grocery store! So far we have had two deliveries and my excitement has turned to disgust and I’m having trouble feeling thankful for the free food we are receiving. If you know me, you know it takes a lot before I’m not thankful for free stuff. Let me tell you what I discovered.
They Look or Taste Like Crap
Picture a peach in your mind. We received three peaches a week from a grocery store. They were brown and yellow. Not brown-spots because they were bad, just brownish colored instead of, you know, peach colored. I washed and took a bite and the whole thing was kind of brownish inside. Like a tan or taupe color instead of anything resembling a peach.
The texture was mealy and almost meaty in a way. It did not have juiciness so much as it kind of just squished in your mouth. The taste? Nothing like a peach. I mean, seriously, I do not know what it tasted like but it did not taste like any fruit I have ever eaten.
If these were the only peaches I was exposed to you’re darn right I would say I don’t like peaches. Which, of course, blows my mind because you know and I know I love me some peaches. I made a peach pie this year for goodness sake. From peaches we picked ourselves in Michigan (which we were able to drive to in our car that works with the gas we were able to afford which is why everyone can’t just go pick some peaches) and the difference could not have been more stark.
People who are getting gross food aren’t eating it. They come to believe they don’t like it. That has nothing to do with how tasty Cheetos are.
You Have to Have Everything Else to Cook Them With & You Have to Shop More Than Once A Week
Consider these 2a and 2b because they are both about access. To cook with veggies you need spices or butter or salt or pepper or limes or lemons or something. Even sliced tomato tastes a little perkier with a dash of salt on top. If you’re a vegetarian with access to super-tasty fruits and veg in your house then you know you don’t need a thing with your veg because it tastes amazing.
This is not the kid of vegetables poor people have access to. The stuff we have access to needs spices at the very least. Trust me. Most of it either tastes wrong (see above) or tastes flavorless (see the Problem with Walmart section below). Maybe in some other areas of the country this is not the case but here in the Midwest it is an experience I’ve heard about from many other people besides just my family here outside of Chicago.
Even if you have a computer and Internet access at home, you have find a recipe you have all the stuff for. There are so many ingredients in recipes I sometimes feel people are adding extra just because they can. It took years of cooking before I developed a sense for what goes with what. Sure, I can go into my kitchen today and throw a meal together, but five years ago? I didn’t know my Basil from my Oregano. You have to have the time to get comfortable with flavors. You have to be able to make mistakes while you’re learning. If ruining dinner means your kids won’t eat? You are not going to experiment in the kitchen.
They’re Already Almost Bad
The avocados and broccoli were the root of the problem here. I cut open an avocado straight out of the box delivered Saturday morning at 8am and it was half brown-spotted on the inside. Mushy and a day away from being inedible.
One of the avocados I poked on Sunday squirted. I kid you not. Squirted brown goo at me. I sure as heck wasn’t putting that into my food. I know I sound awful because I’m complaining about free food, but if I had bought that I would be a LOT more angry.
We already had some broccoli because we eat that stuff like it’s going out of style here at Chez Decki and in the two days it took for me to go, “Hey! Let’s have more broccoli!” there was mold on the top of the broccoli. I don’t know if broccoli is like cheese where you can just cut off the moldy bit and dig in, but I wasn’t about to find out because when vegetables go bad really nasty bacteria can happen.
Just to be safe, I’m not recommending you eat cheese that had mold on it. I’m doing that at my own risk. Don’t do things I do, because sometimes I don’t think things through properly and this might be one of those things.
If I had gone to the grocery store these vegetables came from I would have gotten the same quality (I know, I checked) and in some other grocery stores that aren’t Walmart the same problem kept popping up. I think I should be relatively safe in assuming my veg will stay good for three days.
Maybe I’m just being overly optimistic.
Bonus: The Problem With Walmart
Walmart produce is PRETTY. It looks just how produce is supposed to look. No blemishes, bright colors, it’s like a produce candyland in that store. The lights make everything seem just beautiful. That’s actually the problem. There is a sacrifice made when your tomatoes are perfect and your pears are totally smooth.
There sacrifice is flavor.
Sure the produce is more affordable at Walmart and you can even get organic but most of the things you eat are hinting at an original flavor rather than giving you something that tastes amazing. One notable exception is colored peppers.
For the love of all that is good and holy if you are only buying green peppers PLEASE consider switching to red/yellow/orange peppers. Green peppers (also known lovingly as bell peppers) are awful things I will never eat again after having switched to the rainbow of love.
You can also get them for a decent price if you live near an Aldi. (My love for Aldi is a big, big love.) My kids are really picky about too much onion in a dish and I love a lot of flavor so many times I’ll do half onion and half “whatever colored pepper I have in the fridge” and it works out well. Again, your results may vary.
So, the three reasons are basically taste, freshness, and usefulness.
My Point! (I know, you might be shocked by now there *is* one.)
Shock TV like Jamie Oliver up at the top there makes it look like parents aren’t doing their jobs teaching children. Commercials talking about food deserts are only covering one tiny aspect of the problem. What poor people need are choices for food that don’t taste gross. That are as good as anyone else’s food. They need enough money to buy food they can experiment and cook with.
Yes, some people will buy candy and microwave meals. Yes, some people won’t buy the food you think they should. That does not mean the people who want the chance shouldn’t have it. Why should one person ruin accessibility to food for another? Why is it okay for any one of us to think we can dictate what another person buys at the store?
The children that eat that food might be someone you need help from someday. A hungry child doesn’t learn as well.
So the powers that be like the government and Jamie Oliver and everyone who judges someone else in line at the grocery store wants poor people to buy fruit and vegetables. But if the fruit & veg is flavorless, why not pick something in a box that’s more tasty? If the fruit & veg is going to go bad in three days and shopping is being done right before someone is working three double shifts, what’s the point? If you don’t have enough staples in your pantry (or don’t have a pantry at all) how can anyone expect someone to just pick up some things to pop in the fridge for a quick meal later in the week?
It’s something I don’t have a solution for, but I really think it’s time everyone stopped looking at poor people as the problem.