Tuesday, January 27, 2009

And here is why I don't watch talking heads...

I found myself watching "Morning Joe" this A.M. The local news was blaring ALL BLAGO ALL THE TIME and the sports outlets were trying their damnest to hype an unhypeable Super Bowl. So I went to MSNBC, hoping for a break from the banal. Instead I was treated to stupidity - and "Joe" wasn't even there!! Instead it was Mica-with-the-unpronounceable-last-name (but she is middle-aged-newsy hot) and an assortment of constipated aging men and Tucker Carlson look-alikes. I listened for about a half hour. I was treated to BLAGO (but for only a few minutes) and TARP (they don't understand it) and SUPER BOWL (incestuous promotion via the NBC family) and then the story which made me run to this blog. It was a "health" story and in a nutshell: fast food is really bad for you but it's cheaper to buy McDonald's than making it yourself. And they went on and on about how America eats too much fast food but it's so damned easy and inexpensive, who can blame America for doing so... Now these supposedly smart people couldn't see how absolutely WRONG they are. Here is a lesson I teach to junior high school students and they get it in a heartbeat.

A family of four goes to McDonald's. Mom and Dad each buy a "Big Mac Value Meal" for $4.00 and the kids each get a $3.00 happy meal. The "food" purchased consists of the following:

3/4 of a pound of beef (each Big Mac has 2 patties, each weighing .125 pounds, and each happy meal burger weighs the same .125 pounds... so there are 6 patties X .125 = .75 pounds)

5 buns (each hamburger gets one bun, while the 2 Big Macs share 3 buns)

~ 1/2 pound of french fries

~ 56 ounces of soda

2 slices of cheese, and nominal amounts of lettuce, pickles, ketchup, onion, and "special sauce"

TOTAL FAST FOOD COST: $15.40 (includes 10% sales tax)

Now let's go to the store:

1.5 lb package of 80% lean meat (the same quality of McDonald's hamburger meat) $4.00

8 pack of hamburger buns - $2.25

4 liters of soda - $3.50

1 lb - french fries - 1.25

Head of lettuce - $1.00

1 lb onions - $.50

.125 lb of deli sliced american cheese - $.50

16 oz. bottle of ketchup - $1.00

24 oz jar of pickles - $2.25

TOTAL COST $16.50 (including 2.5% tax)

I may be a bit off on the individual items, but the costs really nearly EXACTLY the same... Here's the difference: I bought enough for TWO dinners at the store (and I will have plenty of lettuce left over to make a salad). Now there is the time factor - it's a lot faster/easier to just go to McDonald's than it is to shop/prepare a meal. However, the fact is that fast food saps the family budget unnecessarily, and this nonsense about how cheap it is belies the fact that this is really about laziness and marketing.

However, I need to thank the good people at MSNBC... now I remember why I stopped watching...


I'm Not Ned said...

Can we get an "AMEN!"?

However you have left out the cost of fuel for cooking the meat. That must add a few pennies.

In addition to the costs you listed you have the health issues and future cost of gym membership to get rid of the fast food impact.

If our schools would present the issue as you have the next generation would benefit greatly.

Rousing Rabble said...

Every year I survey my junior high school students about lots of stuff like this... I find that the average kid eats 5 "fast-food" meals a week. They almost never eat a meal as a family. Their families spend more money a month on entertainment subscriptions than they do on periodical subscriptions - BY A FACTOR OF 30!! I ask them to rank their family income by quintiles: 1 being highest and 5 being lowest. No child in my class has ever ranked his/her family in the bottom quintile - not once in 20 years.

Lula O said...

Women, or at least women I know who cook, have been saying this for years. Welcome to our club RR.

But I must add if I charged by the hour for what I have to put up with while preparing a meal, especially dinner and the chorus of whines from my three hungry children, it would be like, a million dollars. Lucky for them I come cheap.
That makes Mickey D's Steakhouse, on some nights, the best idea I've ever heard.

Carlos said...

There's also the health care costs of too much fatty fried fast food.

And supermarket food shoppers are up in arms at the incredibly shrinking items as manufacturers downsize boxes & cans & try to sneak 'em past us. What was 16 oz. is now 15 oz., 7.5 oz., 7 oz. -- same price.

Rousing Rabble said...

LOL Lula - how old are the kids?

Lula O said...

14, 11 and 3. A girl and two boys. And yes that is quite a gap. What can I say, his father's reproductive materials are like supermen. They can leap great distances in a single bound, much to my surprise.

I can't believe I just said that.

Carlos, you're so right it hurts. The bread I buy just went up 25 cents over the weekend. 25 cents! Everything is more expensive and smaller, and they think they're so subtle that no one notices. Our minds are tricked but our bodies are not. My stomach's pissed.