Mind the Food Gap


September 5, 2014 by JImbo

good bad foods

The Food Gap is Widening (Atlantic Magazine)

I’m not a scientist, nor a nutritionist. I don’t even play one on TV. And, I admit I am too poor to afford to go to the Harvard website and BUY their full published study.

However, from what I can gather their results are decent. The methodology seems okay. They appear to be doing good scientific work.

Unfortunately, I can’t agree entirely with their conclusions. I don’t think they have enough evidence to support their logical leap to the next step of “What does this data mean?” This is often where scientists go off the rails.

The scientists have made a case that rich people buy food they consider “healthier.” Healthier to who though? Let’s set that aside that food snobbishness for a moment.

I grant that rich people buy more salads and exotic fruits. I get that. It makes sense.

However, the leap from that to “poor people can’t afford healthy food” is strained. They don’t have evidence that people don’t HAVE THE MONEY to buy more salad.

The average per capita “SNAP” (Food Stamps) benefit is about $133 a month. Are you telling me that they can’t afford salad with that much money EXTRA? I should note at this point that the SNAP are “supplemental benefits” and are NOT expected to be ALL THAT YOU EAT.

I’m making that point because many people think that is the case. It’s not. It’s to give MORE food to poor people, not ALL of their food. Big difference.

Be that as it may, that still breaks down to $4 a day per person. That’s not bad. I can make a FULL meal for my Army unit for that much per soldier. An example from last month:

For less than $150 I put out a full picnic spread for 40 soldiers.

1 Hot Dog + roll

1 Hamburger + roll


Salad + dressing

Fresh Fruit

Sweet Corn


1-Bottle Water

That came out to about $3.75 a soldier.

So you’re telling me that they can’t eat healthy? That’s pretty damn healthy to me and that was a lot of name brand stuff! I’m sure by shopping what’s on sale and buying in bulk I coulda got it under $3 a person.

“But what about kids? On one meal a day?”

Well, think about this now.

Schools provide breakfast.

Schools provide lunch.

So, poor parents are only FEEDING their kids ONE meal a day!

However, even if the kids aren’t eating at home for 2/3 of meals they are still getting gov’t aid as if they are. So, that leaves even more money on the debit card.

I’m gonna call “bullshit” on this “they can’t afford good food.”

It’s not THAT much more expensive to cook rather than go to McDonald’s.

I just told you how to spend $3.00 for a meal. How much is a Happy Meal? $3.00?

It’s not about COST. It’s about LAZINESS.

Yeah, I said it.

Go ahead and hate me, but I know what food costs and I know how to prepare it.

The reason poor people don’t eat “healthy” food is simple.


It’s easy to go to McDonald’s. It tastes good. It’s a lot less work and no cleanup.

It’s not just McDonald’s.

What about Subway? They’re decent, healthy food. It’s also MADE FOR YOU. For that lazy-factor you pay a premium. Instead of $3.00 for a bottle of water, chips and a sandwich it’ll cost you twice that. Maybe triple.

How much is it to brew a cup of coffee? You can make a whole POT for a fraction of the cost of one cup at Tim Horton’s or Starbucks. Yet people WANT IT.

To be fair they do talk about “education” and “food choices.” However, that assumes that people don’t KNOW there’s other food out there. Oh they KNOW. They just don’t CARE.

I’ve seen “poor” people at the shelter turn down boxes of food.

“Oh hell no I ain’t eatin’ no pasta!”

“What? STORE BRAND? I don’t eat no STORE BRAND SHIT!”

“Beans? Salad? Do I look like an animal to you???”

It’s an interesting study but it misses the bigger picture. This really isn’t about “Poor” vs “Rich” as if one creates the other. Being poor doesn’t mean you are forced to eat bad.

No, I’m gonna guess this is one of those third-factor cases. Let me show you what I mean with a famous example.

Supposedly a study a long time ago found that murders went up during the summer months in big cities. So did ice cream sales. Therefore, the conclusion was that something in the ice cream was causing murders!

Convinced? Well neither were the people who did the study. So, they examined the evidence. They found that the peaks came during “heat waves” in the city.

When it gets hot, people get ice cream. They also get irritable and angry. Irritable and angry people tend to kill one another.

The heat wave caused BOTH results.

Is there a third factor here? Possibly. How about education?

Educated people tend to learn how to eat healthy. Educated people tend to get better jobs. Eating smarter and working smarter both could come from the same root.

Does this mean we need more FOOD education programs? Perhaps. However, I think it’s bigger than that.

I think it’s more of a cultural thing. If your family values education, you will. If you value education in ONE thing, you will probably tend to value learning in all aspects of your life. It will become a “habit of successful people.”

Simply forcing programs on people who have little desire to learn won’t be very successful. There needs to be a DESIRE to learn. There needs to be a CULTURE OF LEARNING.

That kid back in school who didn’t listen in class, dropped out and worked only haphazardly is NOT a “good student.” Do you think saying “Hey man, you really should eat better. Here’s a pamphlet” is going to work?

Poor people have higher drug use and criminal behavior than rich people too. If someone is taking drugs and going to jail they aren’t the best judges of “good” and “bad” behavior now are they? So we’re going to ask them to go to classes on “eating healthy?”

That is where this study is flawed. It doesn’t say anything about the root causes of bad food choices… which is… SOME PEOPLE MAKE BAD CHOICES. Period. Those people also make bad career choices.

They tend to be the same people.

So what do we do? Well, the old fashioned way worked pretty well. Give them boxes of food instead of cash/debit cards.

They banned Pop (Soda?) in New York City. They banned almost everything in LA. Smoking is hardly possibly anywhere around the country.

I’m not for BANNING anything. Don’t get me wrong. A free people should be able to spend their own money on whatever they want.

However, here it’s NOT their “own money.” It’s TAXPAYERS’ money. Beggars can’t be choosers.

GIVE them healthy food and they’ll eat healthy. Give them free money to go buy crap and that’s what they’ll do too. If they WANT the crap food still they can go get a job to make the money to go BUY the crap.

Am I missing something here? Seems pretty simple to me. You want something else, go earn it.




2 thoughts on “Mind the Food Gap

  1. Patrick says:

    No where in the world are the poorist people the fattest except the USA. They choose not to eat healthy, I believe in most cases. Our safety net has provided a class of people that have never known anything else. They aren’t taught basic food nutrition. Some areas have no grocery stores and people eat junk because that’s all that is available.


    • JImbo says:

      I’m not sure I believe the whole “Food Desert” myth.
      Studies since then have found that virtually EVERY American has the capacity to find healthy food choices either where they currently shop or within a 2-3 miles at most. They COULD buy healthy choices. They simply choose not to.


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