I’m currently looking to find out more about what problems people commonly encounter with food. I wanted to share two local Craigslist posts with you that I came across in the process. Here’s the first one, it’s currently still live:
So this person is “interested in eating more healthy food” and willing to pay for both all of the ingredients to come from Whole Foods (“Whole Paycheck”) plus for someone to prepare them. Her/his idea of eating healthy is to eat precooked meals from tupperware containers made of a very limited set of ingredients for both lunch and dinner 6 days a week. I’m just glad I don’t have to be on this meal plan! It is definitely a minimalist approach that we have here, but we can do better in the “fresh”, “creative”, and “economic” departments.
This example shows how successful Whole Foods’ marketing is. In the perception of this person (and of many others), anything from Whole Foods is “healthy”. In fact, 2/3 of the products offered at Whole Foods are processed foods, and many of them are conventionally produced and can contain GMOs. The same rules apply to Whole Foods as to any other store: If it’s not labeled “organic”, it can (and most likely will) contain pesticides and GMOs. This applies to the fresh produce section as well. If you take a close look, not too much of the fresh produce at Whole Foods is actually organic. Fresh crops like papaya and corn can be GMO if not labeled “organic”. So if you buy a fresh papaya at Whole Foods, pay a prime price for it, and carry it out in a recycled bag all feeling like you got the best of the best fresh food and are really investing in your health, you may just have gotten yourself some genetically modified conventional food.
This Craigslist example also makes me wonder why this person is not looking to learn how to prepare food themselves, because all they plan on ever eating is a total of two dishes. Surely that should be possible to accomplish? Really curious about this one – will email and try to find out.
Lastly, it seems to me that this person is unnecessarily depriving themselves of the joys of eating delicious fresh food: of colors, textures, fragrances, variety… It’ll be the same green and brown precooked mass coming out of tupperware containers for them day in and day out. Again, I’m just glad it’s not me who’s going to eat this
Now let’s look at the second example – this post is also currently still live:
So we have two start-up people here who “have been eating out every day” and are now “looking for something healthier”. Again, looking into making quick healthy delicious meals seems not an option; it’s either eating out or paying someone to make them at the workplace. $400/week – we’re looking at ~ $20.000/year here, and that’s presumably not including the actual food/ingredients – this must be a really profitable start-up? Or have things gotten so crazy in the start-up world that the new “ramen profitability” is hiring someone to prepare the ramen? By the way this also makes me wonder if cooking skills actually improve a start-up’s likelihood to succeed, and are thus a skill investors should be looking at – Paul Graham said that the cost of starting a company is mostly the cost of food and rent these days, so all other factors equal the start-ups that come with skills how to make their own food should have an advantage over those who don’t.
In any case, let’s now look at what our start-up people consider “something healthier”. They mention that this would be “something high in protein” and “increasing our vegetable intake”. Interestingly, high protein intake is often considered synonymous with eating healthy. In fact people in the U.S. eat on average already twice as much protein as they need. So there’s a chance that these two start-up folks would be eating healthier if they’d actually lower their protein intake. (Also, just as a note, protein is often associated with meat consumption while there are really many great plant-based protein sources as well. See for example this article for one summary.) Lastly, “increasing our vegetable intake” – with that they can’t indeed go wrong – as long as they’re choosing organic vegetables that is. If they’re eating GMO- and pesticide-containing vegetables instead of whatever they had before, then their diet may not end up improving in healthiness.
Generally it is noticeable how vague their ideas of “something healthier” are.
Now, my dear readers, it’s your turn! What are some ideas you have for things that could be done or that I could offer that would actually help people eat better? Last week I taught a class that was very well-received – it was a 3-course dinner where guests also learned how to make the dishes – all easy and delicious – in the process. I’d love to teach more or offer one-on-one help, and I’ve set up a Services page: How Can I Help You? Any ideas or feedback are much appreciated.