naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
A thing that has been really annoying me about the horsemeat scandal reporting but is actually only tangentially related.

So, some people came over all "well don't eat this nasty crap then" so some other people came over all "but it's cheap and easy and delicious". Now, I don't dispute "easy"; it certainly is a lot easier to buy a microwave lasagne than to prepare your own. I'm not sure about "cheap"; I've never really thought about it, but certainly compared to other low-effort food options (for instance going out for food). And anyway there whole layers of stuff to do with lack of access to cooking skills, equipment, etc.

But really what's pissing me off is the "delicious" part. It's not that I dispute that some people find this type of food tasty; clearly they do. But I've seen a number of people writing about how these foods are "carefully engineered" to be exactly the sort of thing that most appeals to humans. A view that basically "these foods are super addictive; it is only through sheer willpower that anyone resists them" (and often goes on to insist that people ought to, well, have more willpower - which is a shitty thing to insist; but anyway).

Personally I think this is utter utter bullshit. What these companies have done is not a triumph of food science. It is a triumph of advertising. Of getting into people's heads and saying "this is what food should be"; especially getting to people young.

The thing is that in part because my parents were seriously strict about not having this sort of food; and in part because my current lifestyle is fairly well insulated from a lot of advertising crap; and in HUGE part because I've never lacked money to the point that I've been fretting about the cost of using the oven... well; I've never accustomed myself to eating these types of food, and essentially as a consequence of that I think most of them are simply disgusting. I genuinely would prefer to eat rice and beans. I know most people wouldn't.

I think that the people who write things like "OMG McDonalds makes addictive food we must stop them somehow!" are PART OF THE PROBLEM - they are participating in the advertising campaign that says "this food is addictively delicious".

I think that if "we" want to change the way "people in general" eat the answer has to involve teaching people that the "better" food is delicious, is "normal", etc. etc. And I think we need to get them young. Personally I'm not particularly interested in telling people what they "should" eat; but I would welcome attempts to make healthier food cheaper, and more available so that more people have more actual choice about what they eat, rather than being forced into making the cheapest choice.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-04 01:01 pm (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
Objectively, a lot of the cheap food actually isn't all that tasty either. However, because people are told it is, and addictive too, then they expect it to be and thus it is... sense of taste being rather subjective after all.

For that matter, it's not cheaper either. I make my own burgers, it costs me £3 for a pound of meat, which logically I can get four quarter pounders from. Bread is £1 for 6 white scufflers [large buns]. So pricing it out, that's 92 pence per burger.

Pretty sure that's a lot cheaper than McD's.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-04 01:41 pm (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
Huh, true enough I suppose. I forgot about own brand supermarket burgers. [which shows you how long it's been since I bought them.] OTOH, fairly certain that the burgers I make don't contain any additives or nasty surprises. I know where the meat comes from, [heck, I could probably find out the name of the cow!] and I can watch my local bakers making the bread If I want.

That said, I suppose if you don;t have the time to spare, 'slam it in the oven' packet food is a realistic option. [although, if that were the case, I suppose I'd make and freeze mine for later.]
Edited Date: 2013-03-04 01:41 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-04 01:22 pm (UTC)
ptc24: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ptc24
Pedantry time:

Tastes can vary in a number of ways. For example, people can have their tongues configured differently (I think this is a component in supertasters). Also, there are neurological conditions that affect the senses, taste is no exception. Also, acquired tastes - my experience with these is that there's usually some overpoweringly strong component to the taste that you have to learn to work past, and then there's something complex and subtle underneath. Whisky is a good example of this, especially peaty Islay malts, especially Laphroaig.

On top of that, there's a whole load of stuff to do with tastes being dependent on expectations, and varying depending on the presentation and the price tag and a whole load of other factors.

By your reckoning, are the first lot of factors (the ones in the big paragraph) objective or subjective?

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-04 01:33 pm (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
Relativity objective... within parameters defined by physiology as opposed to psychology. Meaning that the bias can be measured and compensated for statistically. I suppose I should've defined that better in my comment.

Strictly speaking, nothing is truly objective though. Not even 'objective' measurements based on instrumentation, given that our perception of the instrumentation is filtered through our fallible senses and the nature of the observer effect implies that our expectations can bias the result.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-04 09:38 pm (UTC)
happydork: A graph-theoretic tree in the shape of a dog, with the caption "Tree (with bark)" (Default)
From: [personal profile] happydork
Oh, absolutely -- if McDonalds had some magic universal taste that appealled to pretty much all humans, why would it vary its recipes from country to country? That's certainly not the same thing as saying that people can stop finding McDonalds tasty, but I think you're right that this sort of rhetoric is just doing part of McD's advertising for them.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-04 11:19 pm (UTC)
chess: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chess
microwave rice, tinned beans :-) (although finding tinned beans in one-person one-meal portions is a pain in itself)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-06 02:27 pm (UTC)
beckyc: Me, wearing a gas mask (Default)
From: [personal profile] beckyc
I've often found that where I have found single portions, that they cost almost as much (or occasionally even more than) the larger version. That annoys me enough that I don't bother with them (which may perpetuate the price differential :-/)

Over here across the pond…

Date: 2013-03-07 02:57 am (UTC)
franklanguage: (Default)
From: [personal profile] franklanguage
there's a misconception that "Vegan food is sooo expensive!" It's not. There's a book called Eat Vegan On $4 a Day (that's about £2, right?)

I eat vegan, and not having to deal with meat and dairy at all is amazing. I don't microwave anything either, because microwaving—for one thing—destroys nutrients, so is counterproductive.
Edited (fix code) Date: 2013-03-07 02:58 am (UTC)

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