Actually, I’ve been thinking about how we perceive the foodie phenomenon. If you read the recent Newsweek article about the foodie thang you would get the impression a person who considers themselves a “foodie” spends a ton of money on hand-nurtured, organic produce that’s been massaged and cooed over from the day it sprouted out of the ground until the day it was picked and delivered to a farmer’s market.
You would also get the impression millions of poor people have no choice in this world except to eat fast, deep-fried, nutritionally empty foods.
Oh, I get what’s happening in the economy. The shrinking middle class. The haves and have-nots. I live in Nevada where we have the highest unemployment figures in the nation.
However foodwise, neither extreme is true for most of us. The truth is somewhere a little closer to the middle.
While there certainly are people who don’t embrace good food and who manage to subsist on a diet of energy shakes, scrambled egg whites, protein bars and tofu – most of us like food. Given a choice we like food that tastes good to us.
That’s where the dividing line is in my humble opinion. Food that tastes good to us. So many people have different perceptions about what tastes good based on their experience.
Some people think deep-fried jalepeno poppers and Tater-Tots are the greatest thing since sliced bread. These are the people who go to the cashier with a cartful of boxes, bags and bottles of soda. My guess would be most of these people don’t think of themselves as “foodies.” They are spending enough on food but the flavors that seem familiar and comforting are “crunchy,” “soft,” “sweet” and “salty.” They have lost touch with (or never knew) what a red bell pepper or garlic tastes like. They don’t know beef except with ketchup, yellow mustard, mayo and a squishy bun.
I’m not immune to the lure of Tater Tots. They’re quick, easy, crunchy. I get it. But I also know what steamed broccoli and asparagus taste like. I enjoy real veggies, meats and foods that haven’t been enrobed in batter or bread crumbs and flash frozen or processed to the point of being “shelf stable.”
I’ve learned to be discerning. I like a Chocolove Dark Chocolate and Ginger bar way more than a Kit Kat bar. To me, there’s a difference in the chocolate. It’s an indulgence of $2.69 at a specialty market every few weeks.
I don’t live in a big, fancy home or sip Dom Perignon – but I can afford a great piece of chocolate. I may color my own hair rather than spend $125-150 every six weeks at a colorist. But I spend $3.29 per week on a half gallon of organic milk because of all the hormones, anti-biotics and other crap in regular milk.
It’s about choices.
I enjoy reading about marketing trends. Back in the 1990s there was a book published titled, “The Popcorn Report” by Faith Popcorn. It said a popular, growing trend was “small indulgences.” Maybe we can’t afford a new Beemer or Lexus but we’ll spend $9 on a bottle of perfect balsamic vinegar.
Another trend is the “vigilant customer.” Some started paying attention to where products and services come from. Was the company a good corporate citizen? Did they take care of their employees? Are they “green?”
Has that happened? Go to Starbucks. You see an emphasis on organics, a lack of artificial ingredients and sustainable farming. On the flip side visit Wal-Mart and people don’t care what sweat shop it came from as long as it’s the best price. Both companies are successful.
If nibbling on a dish of perfect, ruby raspberries makes you feel good, budget to enjoy ‘em. Cut back on one fast food meal a week. Substitute leftovers you warm up in the microwave – and you’ve made the switch. What does it take to have extra virgin olive oil in your home? I bought a two litre canister for $7.99 at Cost Plus a couple months ago. Still using it. Buy real potatoes for 99 cents a pound rather than Hungry Jack dried out potatoes in a box and you’re there.
See how easy this is?