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comment by kleinbl00

It ties back to the bake-off discussion though - when your food culture makes everything an instagrammed triumph by professionals, it intimidates Joe and Jane College from whipping out a box of goddamn Tuna Helper.

I grew up mostly feral which meant if it needed to be cooked I cooked it. The seminal event was likely my mother's "mac and cheese" - she got home earlier than usual, asked what we should have for dinner, I haltingly said "mac and cheese?" at the age of 7 because that's what dad made when she was out until 9pm teaching hippies anatomy, except there wasn't a blue box so my mother attempted to cobble something together out of egg noodles, monterey jack, evaporated milk and brie. "It's...good?" I tried, when forced to eat some, but she saw through my subterfuge, howled like an angry bear and flung the pot across the kitchen where it dented the washing machine. "THIS HOUSE WILL NEVER EAT MACARONI AND CHEESE AGAIN," my mother screamed, launching into a drunken tirade that lasted well into dawn the next day. And from that day forth the mac'n'cheese was sneaked into the house when my mother wasn't looking, and hidden behind the weevil-filled cake mix boxes for use only when we knew beyond a reasonable doubt she wouldn't be home before clean-up.

So I grew up knowing (1) restaurants were expensive (2) adults fucking freeballed recipes all the time (3) it's all just ingredients (4) some things take longer than others but my observation is that the '90s were an era where the fashionable thing was to exempt your children from the fundamental basics of living. My wife has a friend whose vacation was cut short back in 2017 because her senior-in-high-school son decided to opt out and stay home, then decided to have some chili, then rather than fucking googling "how do you use a can opener" pulled out an 8" chef's knife and stabbed a fucking can of Hormel until he'd cut through a couple tendons. Eighteen fucking years old. And again, it comes down to picking your battles: if none of your friends are teaching their kids how to cook, why would you? If Food Network isn't about 30 minute meals but Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, why would you learn to prep anything? One of the CryptoFux put up his Uber Eats totals for the year; dipshit had thrown $40k at getting fucking food delivered. that is some learned helplessness.

Wallerstein argued that there were five kinds of work: Subsistence, piecework, work-in-kind, wages and influence. Cooking for yourself or your family should be a mix of work-in-kind and influence - you're home, so you make dinner, and making great dinner means you are the recognized champion of dinner. That's the other problem - food prep has moved out of the realm of "things we all do together" or "things our family does" into "things our family watches someone else do while we eat food that someone else prepared that was brought to us by someone else." We've re-framed it from "these are my family's recipes which we inflict on others for clout" to "this is that thing that you do when you're poor." Re-read that Guardian article again - it's a lament for lost heritage.

Food has been a social thing going back to the advent of fire. But for the past 20 years it's been an opportunity for shareholder capitalism to extract value. And the end result is people crying over roast beef.

b_b  ·  189 days ago  ·  link  ·  

One of the sadder food developments in recent years is that Kroger barely carries ingredients. I don’t go there very often, but every time I do I’m shocked at the amount of prepackaged garbage on the shelves. Like a warehouse sized store that ostensibly seeks food might dedicate about a quarter of its floor space to “ingredients”. It’s maddening. Hence mounjaro and ozempic.

dublinben  ·  189 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Kroger barely carries ingredients.

Trader Joes is a grocery store for people who don't know how to cook. Now that's a store that barely carries ingredients. They'll sell you five kinds of frozen Asian entrees, but not a bag of brown rice.

kleinbl00  ·  189 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Trader Joe's isn't a supermarket. That doesn't mean it's not a grocery store. It's worth comparing mission statements:

KROGER: "To be a leader in the distribution and merchandising of food, pharmacy, health, and personal care items, seasonal merchandise, and related products and services."

SAFEWAY: "We earn the loyalty of the people we serve by first anticipating, then fulfilling their needs with our superior-quality products, a unique shopping experience, customer-focused service and continuous innovation, while generating long-term profitable growth for our shareholders."

TRADER JOE'S: "The mission of Trader Joe's is to give our customers the best food and beverage values that they can find anywhere and to provide them with the information required for informed buying decisions."

Kroger is all about we'll dominate by selling you all the things. Safeway is We'll hook you with not sucking which will allow us to stay in business. Trader Joe's is There's nothing cheaper, check out my powerpoint.

Trader Joe's doesn't have a "supermarket" business model. They have a "low-margin high-profit" business model. They get their grocery products OEM'd by the big guys, under their own brand, at a low price... just like Walmart. If you aren't ADM or General Mills or whatever and they like your product they'll let you have your brand... for about six months. After that they'll buy you and rebrand you. There was a local outfit by me in North Hollywood called "the chocolate traveler." Their whole thing? Mediocre chocolate in a tin. Trader Joe's carried "the chocolate traveler" for six months and then it became Trader Joe's chocolate wedges.

Yeah, they carry a few staples but they are, in the lingo, "cart finishers." They're things that will do at prices that aren't offensive so that you will buy all your groceries at Trader Joe's. If they don't have it, you'll do without. Compare and contrast with Kroger: "we have fucking everything." Of course they're being squeezed by distributors, their labor keeps going up and their uber-shitty employee and public relations during the pandemic have made it so that it's an island of hatred full of Lay's bags so they're leaning heavily into anything that will make them a profit, too. What's funny to me is they've been doing a lot of lease buyouts lately; I think they're positioning themselves for private equity to swoop in, carve it up and parachute their executives to Antigua, leaving a smoking hole for most of America.

I wouldn't say TJ's is a store for people who don't know how to cook - but I would say that if you tell me it's your only grocery store? Then I know you don't know how to cook. There are anomalous products at TJ's that are dumbly cheap: wild rice is 20% what it costs anywhere else. They have gluten-free pasta made by I have-no-idea-who that cooks up better than Tinkyada. Their grated parmesan is a third the cost of anyone else's and their gluten-free bread is made by the same outfit as Kroger's in the same wrapper with a different name on it for 40% off.

If TJ's can get a deal on it, they'll buy it and sell it to you for enough to profit. And if it's something that you gotta have or else you'll wander over to Food Prison, they'll stock it damn near at cost. But no. They aren't going to stock much in the way of whole wheat flour.

uhsguy  ·  189 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You can cook with just TJs ingredients you just kind of get shitty prices for meats and odd quality vegetables. You aren’t easily going to be able to replicate an ethnic recipe you found on the internet but you could probably cook some bland American recipe from pioneer woman of something. You and I are just spoiled because we cook sophisticated recipes with hard to find ingredients that most people probably don’t care for. Honestly short of a better spice and deli meat selection I can’t really think of something I commonly cook with can’t get at tjs or at least substitute with something acceptable. I don’t shop there because I’m lazy and don’t want to make 2 trips but in a pinch I could make it work.

Also Nobody actually needs whole wheat flour unless you are baking whole wheat bread. I make waffles with it and bread starter but if it were to suddenly go missing I could deal. 5lb of whole wheat lasts longer than 50lb of white flour.

kleinbl00  ·  189 days ago  ·  link  ·  


You mean Food Prison?

Kroger didn't have yeast for eight months.

    Like a warehouse sized store that ostensibly seeks food might dedicate about a quarter of its floor space to “ingredients”. It’s maddening. Hence mounjaro and ozempic.

That has a lot more to do with RJR Nabisco tweaking food the way they tweaked cigarettes. Walmart has tracked it, by the way - people on Ozempic buy less groceries.

I've been on bootleg Ozempic for two months? Three months now? It's basically antabuse for food. Like, I can barely handle cheese, sweets fuck me up, and I kind of live off of bread. Fuckin' hell you eat less when everything makes you hurl.

uhsguy  ·  189 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Weird on the yeast. Pandemic related? There was like year when everyone decided to bake bread and flour suddenly sold out . It was still available in 25-50lb bags but that was too much for most people.

kleinbl00  ·  188 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My theory is that Kroger disincentivizes long-term managers with experience and skill in favor of young, inexperienced employees that will work for cheap. Result? Epic mismanagement.

uhsguy  ·  188 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I think your are right that the grocery store manager has a surprising amount of independence and ability to source things from local and better vendors. Ive seen a store go to shit in less than a month when they had management turnover. Ive seen one improve over the course of a year as well.

Quatrarius  ·  189 days ago  ·  link  ·  

the other little thing that i wanted to say was (as per the Wallerstein convo) cooking it used to be a Woman Duty and now it's a Nobody Duty. the shift from unpaid to paid labor with women entering the workforce spread the household responsibility of cooking/cleaning/kids/etc, at least nominally, across everybody - and now that people don't train their daughters to do it, nobody gets trained to do it. the grassroots is gone, for lack of a better word, and you only get this scattershot stuff about home ec or scrabbling things together out of necessity until you figure it out, and the two roads are roast beef girl and doordash coiner

it's tricky to talk about because it's not like forcing all of it unpaid onto women was any better either, but you're right. money has hollowed the whole thing out. now there's no script, and we're just improvving for lack of being told what to do by the world

kleinbl00  ·  189 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Elizabeth Warren was radicalized when she did a study on bankruptcy for a right-wing think tank and discovered that 80% of all bankruptcies were women who were bankrupt because of (A) a divorce (B) medical bills. Her reaction to this radicalization was a book she wrote with her daughter called The Two Income Trap.

Here's her thesis:

- America had a burgeoning middle class not solely because of the economic opportunities for the primary breadwinner, but because there was always temporary piecework for women whenever they needed it.

- The ability to protect against tragedy and homelessness by having the woman of the household take on short-term labor while the man of the household restarted his career allowed for families to weather out bad storms.

- White Flight and the rise of secondary education put an emphasis on "good schools" as a condition for home purchase, the principle path for wealth protection after the New Deal.

- The American decision to fund school districts via local property taxes created a massive leverage effect on home prices, where houses in "good school districts" skyrocketed while those in "bad school districts" plummeted

- In order to provide a quality education for their children, American families eschewed the "one breadwinner, one spare" economic model in favor of "both parents work all the time"

- Which has had the effects of eliminating the safety net against economic hardship, radically increasing the utilization of daycare, eroding the family unit, putting housing out of reach of everyday americans and otherwise fucking everything up royally.

Warren argued, in 2004, that all schooling should be fucking federally funded, full stop. But then, she's a communist wanna-be squaw.

It all pretty much comes down to "do you, as a society, care about individual welfare? Then you, as a government need to care about individual welfare" which up until Trump got you painted up as a communist. Now nobody knows what to do because the 'wingers are too busy worshipping Viktor Orban and shit.