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Choose home-cooking over fast-food feasting

By Andrea Keating
On October 15, 2011

"Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es." - Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Roughly translated that means, "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are." There is definitely some merit to that sentence, and as Americans, eat we do.

So here's my issue: If food is sustenance, does it really matter if it's home-cooked or fast food? Given today's economy, catering to any size family is no laughing matter. Therefore, fast food has to be more cost-effective, right? Wrong!

A recent article in Mother Jones took that debate a step further; they not only devoured the opposing arguments, but added a curve.

It challenged the benefits of fast-food dependency by comparison to cooking on a real stove. The only downfall: The hours spent slaving over that stove weren't added into the total cost.

According to Mother Jones, the typical burgers-and-fries dinner for a family of four at McDonald's costs about $28, while a home-cooked chicken-and-potatoes meal for four would cost just $14.

Another newspaper to fling doubt on these fast-food trickeries was the New York Times. The Times put a muffler on the novel arguments of why cooking at home isn't applicable.

"The Department of Agriculture says that more than two million Americans in low-income rural areas live 10 miles or more from a supermarket, and more than five million households without access to cars live more than a half mile from a supermarket," Mark Bittman said in his Times column.

He scrutinized these original arguments: Lower income families can't afford to buy groceries, and people can't cook at home because they've no access to transportation and thus zero grocery shopping. And my favorite excuse of all – "I'm tired; I've been working all day."

The Times also tore into those "dubious" labor costs. Although the deductions and calculations were slightly beyond my arithmetical intellect, the infographic they paraded was edifying.

"Nobody can beat a home-cooked meal in: price, nourishment and overall health. The labor time works out the same no different than what they pay hourly at McDonald's."

Turns out the fast-food companies actually paid the same amount to their workers in comparison to the time you should have spent cooking in that kitchen. Hence the extra focus on the word, "should."

Of course, the fast-food options sound financially more attractive, but ask yourself this question. Is it your wallet that is really aching or your stomach? If you answered your wallet, then you need to start cooking.

Why? The fast-food companies have it sewn up that way. They want you to think that staying at home is just not worth it, they want you to dread the effort, and they even went so far as to factor in the cleanup part. How nice of them. I mean, who really wants to wash dishes anyway?

Is there resolve to our nation's fast-food obsession? Definitely a generational undertaking.

Our children have become accustom to it, our schools serve it and our taste buds yearn for it.

In the land of burgers and french fries, it seems we were all sold the same lies.

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