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.