1

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Cost vs. Quantity.

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 12, 2013 at 10:04 AM

Would like to hear your opinion to this info I'm sharing here. I picked up the issue at REI. Now had just finished reading the article about Diets, including the Paleo diet. Traveling and living in remote, traditional villages across India and China for 2 years I would like to comment that there's a misconception in the USA, that money (cost) is an external factor to a diet. Actually the cost is a big hint if cavemen or traditional cultures eat specific foods and how often. Money equals energy invested in growing/raising or obtaining the food from nature. If even in modern, industrialized American market a specific diet is too costly that means traditional cultures couldn't afford having it on a daily basis. And from my own experience, portions of meat, chicken and fish in Indian or Chinese dished served in American restaurants are overwhelmingly bigger then the original authentic preparation in their respective native countries. Otherwise we also eat these more often, almost daily in general.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on May 29, 2013
at 02:54 PM

Your first sentence makes zero economic sense, but the rest does. For the record, a thing's pecuniary worth cannot be separated from the cost to procure said thing.

D6a810063659ee5c7f03d07851bedbcb

(5)

on May 13, 2013
at 09:32 AM

Thanks. I agree with your explanation about traditional cultures having less costly organic foods. Yet, my experience in both China and India show they eat it only for flavor. In a dish of rice and vegetables (stir fry) there will be a few dice-sized pieces of meat to give flavor and oil the vegetables. In fact, they only rinse the dishes with water after use, because there's no fat to soap off. In India, chicken is used only in a festive day (for example if a guest is coming over, or a holiday). Some communities as Brhamin, Jain and Pillai don't eat any animal flesh their whole lives.

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2 Answers

1
C6648ab69e5a1560c7585fe3ba7108fb

on May 29, 2013
at 02:28 PM

Etand, keep in mind that the cost of something is not related to just its base value, but instead how expensive it is to produce. Since population growth exploded with the advent of agriculture (and agriculture significantly cut down on available grazing space for animals), it has become cheaper to maintain plant food than animal food; however, that doesn't imply that it was cheaper for hunter-gatherer tribes to do the same. For a tribe of 40 or 50 people, bringing down 4 or 5 herd animals would feed the majority of the tribe for at least a few days (probably longer than that) and was far less time intensive and more practical than gathering the equivalent caloric amount of lower-calorie plants.

Long story short: our modern food system is organized much differently than the one available 10,000 or more years ago, so the relative value of things today isn't a good comparison to how "expensive" things were before agriculture.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on May 29, 2013
at 02:54 PM

Your first sentence makes zero economic sense, but the rest does. For the record, a thing's pecuniary worth cannot be separated from the cost to procure said thing.

1
Cf08ad26759fdd206a2c9f9385080a57

(995)

on May 12, 2013
at 11:20 AM

I have found a bit of a correlation between paying more (~2x what I used to spend right now) and eating better.

This probably doesn't hold up everywhere, but in the desert, it does for me.

(Of course, when I say I'm spending 2x what I used to, I've gone from cereal, hot dogs, and ramen to grass-fed porterhouse steaks, wild salmon, and a well stocked fridge of organic fruits/vegetables.)

Example -- In a traditional culture that ate paleo foods, you'd probably know where food grows, know guys who grow / sell it, and it wouldn't be anything special to not want chemical fertilizers / preservatives on that food. If you were starving and broke, you would still eat Paleo, just less of it. Stuff like, "I'm hungry, oh look there's organic food." Or "Bob, let me tradesies for some of that grass-fed beef."

In contrast, I live in an urban desert. Here, if you're starving and flat broke, the way to stay alive would be to pan handle and buy high calorie fast food. That is our version of traditional food. Nothing edible or sustainable grows naturally here (it's all pre-planned and carefully watered) and with temperatures hitting 110F+, you risk heat stroke if you're out for too long looking for food. We have grocery stores, but 90% of the store is frankenfood. At my closest store, ALL of the beef / dairy is fed antibiotics / genetically modified foods that those animals wouldn't normally eat. If I want real food, it's an out of the way drive to a store that charges a bit more for everything (whole foods.)

While, I could get by on cheap produce and cheaper cuts of meat from my local shitty store, it's just not ideal. (You'd be a fool not to make the investment though.)

Even just like.. my socks. It costs extra just to have socks that aren't mad scientist-ified with genetically introduced bacillus thuringiensis toxins. My orange juice -- organic OJ is more expensive. My soaps.. etc, etc. It adds up.

(Another interesting thing to think about. Is that I appreciate things much more when I have to pay a premium for them. Ex. When I download pirated games, I rarely play them through. But paying $60 for a similar title often provides a statistical increase in my enjoyment.. perhaps eating better and accepting that financial sacrifice provides some sort of positive feedback loop.)

Kind of ran on here. TLDR; expensive food is expensive.

D6a810063659ee5c7f03d07851bedbcb

(5)

on May 13, 2013
at 09:32 AM

Thanks. I agree with your explanation about traditional cultures having less costly organic foods. Yet, my experience in both China and India show they eat it only for flavor. In a dish of rice and vegetables (stir fry) there will be a few dice-sized pieces of meat to give flavor and oil the vegetables. In fact, they only rinse the dishes with water after use, because there's no fat to soap off. In India, chicken is used only in a festive day (for example if a guest is coming over, or a holiday). Some communities as Brhamin, Jain and Pillai don't eat any animal flesh their whole lives.

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