Friday, August 20, 2010

Cheap Food

Often, when I walk down 43rd Street to the Green Symphony deli the large stage doors of the Hilton Theatre, where the Local 1 guys are building the sets for the upcoming Spider-Man Musical, are open and the union guys are hanging out and eating during their breaks. I started to pay attention to what they were eating over a couple of days so I can make some grand statement about the eating habits of your typical hard hats. But there was one guy who always had fruit in his hand as he sat in a chair leaning against the stage door. Finally, today I stopped and asked him about it. Turns out he is on Weight Watchers and he lost 63 lbs. Funny how regular guys who lose weight talk passionately about it as if we were talking about the recent Yankees vs. Tigers series.

For lunch I went to Bonobo's for my delicious, fresh nori rolls of finely cut vegetables and vegetable spread. I saw a couple of obese people in there and that was good to see especially since there is a Quiznos sandwich shop right next door. One other thing about Bonobo's vs a Quiznos is that my nori roll which included a small salad was $9 and Quiznos was advertising a $4 meat sandwich. So, when I think about the freshness of farm grown vegetables versus a food chain that buys chemically-altered processed food, plus an enormous advertising budgets and the infrastructure of countless store fronts, why is this fresh roll twice the cost of their sandwich? I'm all for entrepreneurial capitalism, but I can't quit figure out how farm fresh vegetables are so much more expensive than processed foods from big chains? I mean it is NYC and rents are high, but is it fair to say that healthy food is purchased by more educated and wealthy individuals (as the Danes said about Denmark)? And because the hip, more well-to-do crowd in the Flatiron District eat at Bonobo's they can charge higher prices? I don't know. But, it would be great if healthy food were able to compete with $4.99 for a burger, large fries and a chocolate shake!

Speaking of shakes I walked through Madison Square Park and decided to count how many people were in the queue in front of Shake Shack. No joke, 103 people! Seriously! Who would wait that long for a burger which is not really that much better than hamburgers found at J.G. Melon's, the old P.J. Clarke's, Corner Bistro, and even Jackson Hole restaurants?

Oddly enough tonight I am going to the fashionable restaurant Bobo tonight. Two places that could not be farther apart in food, decor, price, and patrons!


Anne Marie said...

Hi Terrence,

You are making me miss NYC in the worst way!
I wanted to share some books with you that might help you understand the pricing difference you mentioned.Why is bad food so cheap? It's the question everyone should be asking, but the answers are far from simple.
To start learning more I would recommend Fast Food Nation,by Eric Schlosser, and anything by Michael Pollan. Another title that may be of interest, while not directly on the subject is Seeds of Wealth, by Henry Hobhouse.You might enjoy it.
Thank you for your blog,and your honesty. I wish you the best!
Anne Marie

Terrence said...

Thank you Anne Marie! I saw the documentary, Fast Food Nation, but have not read the book. Also, I am interested in the writings of Michael Pollan. Thanks so very much again and I hope you come back for a visit!