Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

E. Coli and the sense of false economy June 20, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Home Economics — realfoodmama @ 1:00 pm
Tags: , ,

Apparently another industrial food product has been targeted in the growing E. Coli contamination trend. While no one has died, at least 25 people have been hospitalized and nearly 40 more have taken ill – article here.

The media response was, of course, to tout the new Food Safety bill currently before congress. I don’t know why I am surprised that the political solution is to demand more costly, stricter oversight of the deplorable practices rather than actually making the effort to reform the food industry so as to reduce the need for this type of oversight. It appears people are afraid of rocking the proverbial boat.

The most interesting thing about the recent E. Coli scare is that it is an example of the culture of laziness we have encouraged around our food. Not only do people not make their own cookie dough anymore, but they also don’t even bother to bake it.

It saddens me that our relationship with food has so disintegrated in this era of fast-everything. We consider it a waste of time to actually cook ourselves a healthy and wholesome meal. In addition, we also shop for our food the way we shop for everything – we bargain hunt instead of investing in a good product. If people can buy ten cans of Chef Boyardee Ravioli for $10 they will, but no one is willing to spend that much money on a good raw cheese, or a gallon of real milk, foods that provide you with so many more nutrients than the highly processed food product in the can.

I know only too well the dilemma one faces when one wishes to buy healthy, whole foods and can’t overlook the expense. Grass fed beef costs a lot of money, and when you are trying to feed a family on a limited and finite budget, these decisions become much more difficult. Ultimately, however, it becomes a false choice based on false economy. Pre-packaged cookie dough costs about $5.50 for a pound, making approximately 18 cookies. The ingredients required to make approximately a pound of homemade cookie dough adds up to less than that –

2 1/2 c (approx 1/2 lb) of flour – $1.15 (based on the cost of bulk organic flour at my local co-op)
1 stick butter – $1.25 (based on an estimated cost of organic butter, $5/lb)
1 c (approx 1/4 lb) of sugar – $.60 (based on the cost of bulk cane sugar at my local co-op)
Tsp salt – minimal cost no more than several cents
Tsp vanilla – possibly a whole nickel based on the type and quantity of vanilla purchased
2 Eggs – $.33 / egg at $4 a dozen (cost of free range organic eggs at my farmer’s market)
3 oz Chocolate chips – approx $.50 / oz (based on the cost of bulk organic chocolate chips at my local co-op)

Total cost for a homemade batch of organic chocolate chip cookies using the above calculations? $5 even. And not only will they taste better, but they also won’t (in all likelihood) give you E. Coli.

Happy Eating!

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