I fell in love with vending machines after spending time in Japan. On every street corner, in every neighborhood, in every large shop, there are vending machines. They sell hot noodle soup, beer, sake, BBQ, and mochi out of these state-of-the-art, twenty-second-century machines. Now comes Hot Nosh, a Kosher vending machine that is available 24/6 (that’s right—got to observe the Sabbath, bubbelah!). Why aren’t vending machines as popular in our country as they are in others? Entitlement and culture, that’s why. What do you think?
In local news, a truck drove up and into and onto the Cliquot Cafe patio, injuring thirteen. Apparently the driver of the vehicle was headed there to retrieve a “to-go” order and passed out as the car neared the restaurant. The driver then lost control, and the results, I think, everyone knows by now. What were the odds of that happening? So here is the big question, do restaurants now need to vet the sobriety of customers headed to their businesses to grab and go?
I've brought up the water-bottle issue before, and now I bring you more solid numbers from Time magazine. In this market, the only large food company to step up and say NO MORE BOTTLED WATER is Big Bowl. I am 100% for supporting local, independently owned and operated restaurants—they are the lifeblood of our community—but I think people sometimes decry the chain restaurants like lemmings. Here is a great example of a chain leading by example.
From Cool News and Reveries, one of my fave websites for marketing and PR, comes this jewel. For those of us who have been screaming about scratch cooking and its values, it makes a great case for why people like Sandra Lee at Food Network don’t have a leg to stand on when they say convenience trumps scratch cooking.
As it turns out, it takes most people about the same amount of time to prepare meals using "pre-packaged convenience food" as it does to cook a meal from scratch, reports Tara Parker-Pope in The Wall Street Journal (8/7/07). Reason is, when we cook from scratch we keep things simple. When we use convenience foods, we tend to get a bit more elaborate. That's according to an ethnographic study (abstract here) by UCLA researchers, who "videotaped the cooking habits of 32 middle-class Los Angeles families with two working parents . . . The study showed that meals with little or no convenience foods took 26 to 93 minutes to prepare. Meals that used a lot of convenience foods took 25 to 73 minutes to prepare."
"When people use convenience foods, they are ramping up expectations for how elaborate a dinner should be," says anthropologist Margaret Beck. For example: "One family made a simple meal of sandwiches and edamame, using bread, cheese, greens, salmon, and tomatoes. Another family had a six-dish convenience-food meal of microwave barbecued ribs, macaroni and cheese, prebagged salad, bagged dinner rolls and a cookies and ice-cream dessert." Both meals took a half-hour to prepare." A key difference, obviously, is that the first family didn't consume nearly as much in the way of "preservatives, unhealthy fats and sodium."
The issue is, "parents often justify using the less-healthful convenience foods because they feel the time saved in cooking can be used to help kids with homework or play at the end of a busy day." Health experts hope that if it takes just as long to prepare a "convenient" meal, more people might "opt for simpler, healthier fare." As Margaret Beck puts it: "People should give themselves a break . . . It's OK to put a simple meal on the table."