business news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to the discussion of my "life is too short to eat crappy food" comment from before I went on vacation, one MNB user wrote:

I love it.  I am 5’4” and weigh 115 pounds, so it’s obvious I’m not a glutton.  However, food and wine are 2 of my favorite subjects.  When we go on vacation, where we eat dinner is often the main activity that drives what we do the rest of the day.  As soon as we hit a vacation spot, we immediately begin a search for where the “locals” eat and what’s the best food in town.  When I order in a restaurant, I always look for something I have never had before.  Same w/the wine list.  Why buy what you can get in your local state store.  Order a wine you have never tried before.  For New Year’s Eve, I fly 900 miles to Maine to have a 9-course out-of-this-world dinner at The Hartstone Inn in Camden w/my son and daughter-in-law.  We literally wait all year for it.

When cooking at home, most everything is from scratch.  And it doesn’t have to be expensive.  Starting w/some simple sautéed garlic and onions, you really can’t go wrong from there.  My husband’s and my favorite activity (well almost favorite J) was cooking dinner together.  Sometimes it only took 20 minutes; other times, it could take hours.  Regardless, it was priceless time spent together while we drank wine and munched our way to a finished product.  When we would sit down to dinner, my husband would always look across the table and say, “Who eats better than we do?”  And, I would always answer, “No one, dear.”
I think you either care about food or you don’t.  The range of tastes/textures in our food world is practically limitless. What’s not to try?  What’s not to enjoy?
Luckily, both of my children are devoted “foodies” also.  They make about everything from scratch, including their bread, and, frankly, probably spend less on groceries than any other families I know.  One of the real upsides to being food oriented is that it is a great way for families to connect.  All of my grandchildren are more proficient in the kitchen than many adults and take real pride in what they can make.  As a result, they also will taste anything and can really appreciate “good” food.  Some of our best family memories are food/meal related.
Summary:  It doesn’t have to be elitist, in my opinion, to appreciate and love great food.  This body has to take you from cradle to grave.  What you put in it will dictate how well your motor runs and for how long.  Why anyone would put “sugar in the gas tank” is beyond me.  It should be “high octane” all the way.

And from another reader:

Good morning, I'm a long term fan of MNB and occasionally write in to comment.  Given the current debate with people weighing in on 'crappy' food vs nutritious offerings... well, I just couldn't resist commenting.  I recently decided to join a weight loss program to remove a very stubborn set of 20 lbs off my body.  Going into the program, it works like most diets, fresh fruit, fresh veggies and fresh meat with no prepared foods.  I won't lie, I was worried it would be very expensive and we planned for it.  After all, EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE tells you it's more expensive to eat 'fresh' and 'right' then to eat fast...   What I really want to impart is the knowledge that thinking has to change!   What I learned was surprising - my monthly food costs decreased and for those wondering, NO it's not due to less food intake.  My husband and I stopped eating out and started preparing every meal.   Like most of your readers, we live full lives but made the commitment to try this plan for 9 weeks.  He didn't have any weight to lose, but as I prepare the meals, he was willing to take one for the team and eat the same in larger portions.   The results - 12+ weeks later we're still eating fresh fruits, fresh veggies and fresh meats with the weight off and more importantly, Feeling Great!  

Lesson learned - fresh food doesn't cost more, it just takes more planning and prep time.  We shop at Walmart where costs tend to be cheaper in our area and I know they're everywhere, so.....   Something for readers that argue fresh costs more - how much did it cost you to take your family to McDonald's, Wendy's or some other fast food place?  Last time the two of us went, it was about $15.  Do you know how much fresh food I can buy for $15?   Enough to make multiple meals, not just one lunch, but dinner, lunch and dinner again.   I would challenge anyone to take a restaurant receipt and shop in fresh isles only to learn how much food can be bought for the same spend.  In the end, it comes down to choices and while eating out occasionally is not a bad thing, eating out multiple meals in a week IS expensive any way you look at it.   If someone argues they don't have "time" to cook and prepare food, well - I'm not different than anyone else.  I have a family, full time job and 3 hour a day commute.  Again, planning is the key, but eating right is doable regardless of the argument.

Chiming in on the debate we were having about CEOs who think they walk on water, when in fact it is the people on the front lines who make the difference, one MNB user wrote:

Interesting anecdote you relate about Larry Johnston parking his car in a no parking zone, "just to let people know" that he could; stamped by you as Exhibit A, "A" standing for a word you can't use in MNB.  Brings to mind the stories about Steve Jobs, described by his biographer, Walter Isaacson, as "prickly", where he (Jobs) would stand just barely inside the line of California motor vehicle law, flagrantly flaunting it, by trading in his leased Mercedes SL every 5.99 months so as to never have to put a license plate on it.  One might infer he did this "just to let people know" that he could, and as such, would seem to leave himself open to charges he was arguably no more praiseworthy -- at least, on this narrow issue of parking law * -- than Johnston was.  Can we call this Exhibit B, "B" here standing for a word you may or may not choose to report in MNB?

Please note I am only equating Jobs & Johnston on this narrow issue of parking law.  I am in no way suggesting any other similarity between the two executives.  It goes without saying that Jobs' product contributions to the technology world are fabulous, as are his performance metrics at Apple.

I would absolutely agree that the nonsense with the car was not Steve Jobs' finest moments.

On another, but related subject, MNB user Mark Raddant wrote:

Kudos to you for standing up to the person who felt Apple store workers were teenagers who weren’t supposed to be making a living wage.  In fact, most retail people I come in contact with are working retail as a main job or in support of a “primary” job which does not pay enough to support a family.

This is a consumer driven economy.  The people at the retail level are spending the majority of their wages.  What they can save, they do for down payments on the big stuff.  They are the backbone of the economy, not the so called “Job Creators” who—with the lowest taxes on them in generations have not been creating too many jobs, have they?  The real Job Creators are those who spend their money to buy competitive, quality products.  They drive investment by companies looking to fulfill the demand—but it is the DEMAND which spurs investment and hiring.

By the way, those “teenagers” at the Apple Store are the personal representatives of the biggest and most valuable company on earth.

MNB user Ernie Monschein chimed in:

I am always amazed at the sheer number of people today who do the "simple math" and come up with an attitude that jobs at the Apple Store or in retail supermarkets lack dignity and are pretty much for "teenagers" or others that made poor personal choices. There are many reasons people make the decisions they do and many reasons people cope with a range of circumstances. The arrogance of such a statement and the every man (or woman) for himself attitudes that have become so prevalent in today's society are destructive and not at all flattering to those who have them. All jobs have dignity in their own ways and we shouldn't judge the worth of people on such shallow criteria.

And from yet another reader:

Today you are a hero to those of us on the front lines of retail! We provide a service but are not sub-servant. We love what we do and do it with pride. Thank again for the good fight!

While on vacation I came across an email that I'd somehow missed, but that I wanted to post to make sure that the wrong impression was not given:

As an Italian-American and a daily reader of MNB,(and one that enjoys your commentary), I was very troubled by your "goes to the mattresses" headline on the Piggly Wiggly story this morning.  Would that have been your headline if Mr. Paul Butera (the CEO) was not an Italian-American?  The perceived "Mafia" connotation was both unnecessary and very insensitive.

I never even thought about Butera's ethnic background when I wrote that headline - I was just reaching for a movie reference, as I often do.

Apologies if any offense was taken, because certainly none was meant.
KC's View: