Saturday, May 22, 2010

Crazy Cheap

I am constantly surprised by the endless parade of commercials advertising cheap food.
I remember a few years ago (okay, let's say 15 years ago) a certain fast food chain advertised a whole group of foods for 59, 79 and 99 cents. At the time that seemed perfectly legitimate to me. And I must admit, I ate several of the 59 cent items. But I was not old enough to buy beer ( or even cigarettes) heck I might not have been old enough to drive I can't quite remember.
Now it is 15 years later and I don't feel like the prices have changed. I see constant commercials for an enormous sandwich for five dollars. Now I have been saying for years that I didn't want to eat anything that had a built in profit margin at a price of five dollars. Or what about the ad in which a family goes to the grocery store to see how much a pound of raw chicken costs and how much a bag of flour costs among other ingredients. Upon to finding out the real cost of groceries, they throw out the list, and drive on over to their local fried chicken shack. I admit I sat slack jawed through that one. I also remember the chain that actually advertised "Fourth Meal" as a legitimate dining option. Seriously? Is anyone buying this?
But now that has all changed.
One of the key players just introduced a 2 dollar value meal. An ENTIRE meal for $2. Preying on those who cannot afford food, it is now cheaper to eat every meal at a fast food restaurant rather than buy groceries and cook your own food. Think about it. 7 days a week, 3 meals a day? For a family of four you could eat every meal at this particular restaurant for $84 a week. Sad really. But of course that whole family will get sick on the food. Or sick of the food, whichever comes first. Although, I am not so sure that my calculations are totally accurate because I do not believe the offending chain is open for breakfast. However I guess if you rolled out of bed at 10:45 am, I bet you could eat your 'breakfast' by 11am, lunch really anytime you like and your dinner could be more around that 'fourth meal' time slot.
Apparently this has all just gone down. My google search of "the cost of fast food 2010" yielded a ton of websites discussing this recent offering. Apparently other regional food chains have started to offer less expensive menus and the king daddy of them all (that chain whose food is synonymous with the single yellow alphabet letter out front) just wrapped up an 18 month project to completely revamp their dollar menu.
I don't mean to stand up on a soapbox today. And though I am a personal fan of capitalism, it will drive companies to the edge of profitability when there are no other selling features to offer. But what are we to do? The Government can't step in because who wants to live in a police state with the government telling us what to eat? We aren't getting what we need in terms of education. The gap between the haves and have not is not only getting wider but sadly that gap is also now showing that those who have not are also sicker than the haves. Not fair in my mind.
I am in favor of a large scale home economics programs coming back into our schools. Schools: teach our kids to cook because so many of our generation didn't learn it from our mothers. Before our kids get any fatter or sicker, we need to teach our children how to prepare a healthy meal and to eat real food.

Fast Food Maven. The Orange County Register. 18 May, 2010.

1 comment: