Are people really so clueless?

A couple of years ago I read this great post online about composting, and in the comment section someone posted a very long comment that said compost was fool’s gold, not black gold, and that we can do so much better with modern fertilizers. At first I was shocked that someone could be so clueless about compost, and then I started to wonder if maybe that comment came from someone who works for a fertilizer company. I know that public relations professionals use Google Alerts to keep them informed about what people are saying about their companies, but they could just as easily use it to keep track of — and comment on — articles and other posts that might hurt business.

I recently discovered a six-month-old post in which Slow Food USA wrote about their $5 challenge — make a meal at home for under $5. The writer went on to say that in New York City, an Egg McMuffin costs $2.99, but you can make the same thing at home with organic ingredients for $2.49. It was a really great post. However, the comment section once again had me shaking my head, wondering if people are so out of touch with reality or if the PR people for fast food companies are stalking blogs and writing comments to confuse the issue. “TBONE,” who claims to be an organic farmer, wrote:

the one thing you did not consider is the costs to prepare said food. I
agree with you that organic food is cheaper than many people think,
especially if you consider growing ANY of it yourself, but the time it
takes to prepare an “egg mcmuffin” is about 15 mins(by MY
calculations)…thats time to gather, prepare, and clean up.  If said
person earns $16.27(the national average) then you need to add $4.07 to
that meal.  A far cry from the $2.99 McD’s charges. You cant compare
prepared food prices to unprepared food prices without considering the
time you lose preparing said meal.

Seriously? I’d love to know who is paying this person $16.27 an hour to sleep late instead of cooking his own breakfast. I say this a lot, but telling us to consider “the value of our time” is still the most ridiculous thing Corporate America spouts. No one is paid for every minute of their time, so unless this person is taking off 15 minutes unpaid from his $16.27 an hour job, then his time is worth exactly $0. And if your time is so valuable, then what about the time you spend sitting in the drive-thru at McD’s? The fact that this person thinks it will take fifteen minutes to scramble an egg and toast an English muffin also tells me that he hasn’t scrambled an egg in a very long time! (Here’s a tip for the really clueless — the English muffin can toast while the egg is scrambling.) I can guarantee you that you will spend less time scrambling an egg than you will spend in the McD’s drive-thru.

Then “Hollie” commented,

I love the idea that you can make an organic mcmuffin for 2.59 vs the
Mcd’s one at 2.99. But we also have to think about the fact that you
cannot buy one egg, and 1 english muffin, 1 piece of cheese and one
piece of bacon. You can buy all the stuff u need, but when your food
budget is 40 dollars a week for a family of 2, you can choose to eat
McMuffins most of the week, 3 meals a day, or have some variety. I tend
to go into the store with 40 dollars and buy the cheapest food i can
with as much food groups I can (whole wheat, veggies, cheese, ect) It is
true though, that the cheaper food will fill you more and give you more
variety when buying with such little money. 

Seriously? Does Hollie seriously believe that the only thing you can do with eggs and the other ingredients is to make Egg McMuffins? I find it very hard to believe this person buys any food in the grocery store or does any cooking if she believes what she wrote. English muffins are sold in packages of six, so two people would be able to eat them three times a week, which is not “most of the week, three meals a day.” Eggs are an extremely versatile food, and they are one of the cheapest protein sources available. With four eggs, a little milk, cheese, and vegetables, you can make a quiche that will feed four people. Saying that you only have $40 a week to feed two people does not negate the fact that it is cheaper to cook from scratch.

And the ridiculous comments just go on and on, including a woman who says that she has to bake all of their bread products from scratch because they can’t have soy, and it takes too much time to make English muffins. Does she really believe that McDonald’s makes soy-free muffins from scratch every morning? It does not even make sense that most of these people are reading the Slow Foods blog if they have such contempt for the concept.

I suppose it should not continue to surprise me when I see people arguing that fast food is a good deal financially. I really want to believe that all of these clueless posts are made by PR pros — and that people are smart enough to see how ridiculous these comments are. But there is a part of me that worries that these are real people who truly believe their completely illogical arguments.

12 thoughts on “Are people really so clueless?”

  1. It is incredibly sad. Apparently the time of the people cooking is far more important than the time of the poor people who are paid a pittance to care for these animals and veggies. It's always cheaper in the long run to cook from scratch. Especially when you consider the health of our bodies and the health of our earth.

  2. Well, this is terribly sad, yes. The other sad thing as mentioned by "the mom" is how low the growers are paid, I'd also like to say it's sad how low fast food workers are paid. Consider this…if they all just quit that made less than $10/hr (or especially anybody under $16.27 LOL)then much of America would be at a stand-still. So if fast food workers were really paid for the value of what they provide to all these folks whose time is too valuable to make their own food, then the prices of said convenience food would easily double. There is so much more value in the knowledge of what you're eating, how humanely it was produced…and the calories burned preparing it. HA

  3. That's funny. But not funny. Where should we add in how much per hour we're not earning while we sit waiting at the doctor's office from ailments caused by our Egg McMuffin diets?

    I waffle between feeling uplifted at so many like minds posting great stuff on their blogs and feeling defeated by the sheer volume of comments like these.

    And publications like The Atlantic and The New York Times make me feel even worse because you can see how attached intellectuals are to the product of their jobs – commenting seems to be a nasty form of sport in those publications.

    I'm not sure which side is gaining, but I have to limit my exposure to it or it really sucks the wind from my sails.

  4. I am somewhat amused by all the comments, even those above! I have one of these people in my life-my own mother. She honestly believes she is a healthy eater, and never considers the start point for the foods she puts in her mouth. Well, except for eggs,(hold on to to your britches for this one, she says "I like store bought eggs better, the chickens are kept in cages where they can't eat yucky stuff like worms". And another amazing quote "That's why there are grocery stores, so people don't have to be out rooting in the dirt." Her parents grew most of what they ate, I'm betting her health is far more likely attributed to her childhood fare than her current diet. We are slowly educating her, and the recent "pink slime" articles captured her attention. But then my father announced that he liked the taste of pink slime and was not bothered a bit by it. These are my parents, I am 50 years old, if I had not left home to see the world, I would probably be just like them. The only way to reach folks like these is to make the education a part of their world, just like the fast food companies do. My parents would NEVER buy a sustainable farm book, or read a homesteading blog, but they watch t.v. and read billboards. I'm working on them, but if "Food Inc" were an ABC movie of the week, it would have more impact!

  5. If I can make a big batch of English muffins with 3 small kids, pregnant with the 4th, and work it around farm chores, it can't be that hard. The upside of making them, is that I get so many, I end up freezing a bunch to use as needed. the reheat very well too!

    I have family members that are eager to use these excuses are a reason they NEED processed foods, but then complain about the costs of the medicines they need to control their cholesterol. It just makes me shake my head.

  6. I understand your irritation in this but you have to remember that the people who write these comments do not read 'Look how easy and cheap it is to make your own food instead of going to MacDonalds' they read 'I am better than you because I make my own food and do not go to MacDonalds'.

  7. The people who make those comments are probably the same sort of people responsible for the state of the country.
    While it is possible the comments are from 'trolls' of the food industry, it is also probable that these people are indeed as clueless as they seem.
    My brother asked me why I wanted to learn how to make butter when I could just go to the store and buy it.
    And I've heard people ask why should we kill chickens to eat when we can just buy chicken in the store.

  8. My husband's aunt thinks we are horrible killers (her words) because we hunt and fish and only consume meat we have killed ourselves. We live in Alaska, she lives in SC. When confronted as to where she gets the meat she and her husband consume, she said "In the store, of course. It is cleaner and healthier for us and isn't cruel like shooting a poor deer in the woods."


  9. Yes, People are that clueless! I'm "the other half" of a chiropractic wellness center and we are constantly educating people about life, nutrition and the human body. Ignorance is no excuse, especially with thousands of amazing blogs at your finger tips!

  10. However valid your viewpoint may be, I don't think pointing a finger and calling out the commentors on another blog as "ridiculous" is helpful to anyone. Just my opinion, of course. I learn more from a positive argument than from mocking another's point of view.


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