MIghtier than thou? [General]

2009 Aug 8
So, I just returned from a motorcycle trip across the mid-western states- Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, North Dakota and then back to my home town of Selkirk Manitoba.

As as faithful foodie, I research destinations in advance and narrow down the best options.

The food on this trip was dismal. No imagination- each restaurant menu resembled the previous one with the same salads(caesar, chef, house, greek oh perhaps a taco) the same chicken fried everything, deep fried apps,clubhouses, etc. Basically, very little in the way of "healthy" options. In addition, the portions were HUGE. My travelling companion ordered a clubhouse sandwich at one locale which, not kidding, must have contained 1 1\2 lbs of meat and was served with a mound of fries. I eventually gave up on the restaurants and hit the grocery stores for some better alternatives but was amazed at the amount of convenience foods\processed foods.

My question for OF's is do you think Canadians eat a better diet then our neighbours to the south? Do we eat less processed foods?

Incidently, Fargo, North Dakota had one of the best restaurants on our trip- Monte's which I highly recommend should anyone be passing through this area.


I also found it interesting how the only ethnic restaurants I saw were Chinese(americanized, Thai and sushi. Not one Indian restaurant.

2009 Aug 8
Would it be safe for me to say that a majority of our southern neighbors are afraid to try ethnic food? I'd hate to imply they are ...."against change". That they just prefer homemade apple pies, eggs and bacon and sandwiches. Unfortunately that is my perception of most, not all. Maybe after 9/11 they don't trust "ethnic places"? Wow, this sounds like a touchy subject. I'm going to stop here in case I've offended anyone.

As far as better diet. I just think back to the movie "Supersize Me".

2009 Aug 9
Pan Bagnat - Tell me about it... I have done a trip very similar to yours enroute to Yellowstone... and I agree the food was abismal. I too encountered all the same "options" (although no Thai). And some of the worst Americanized Chinese Food I might add (tried it one day - think it was in Helena, Montana as I was then dog tired of the same old same old burgers & fries). Couldn't believe one could "deep fry" so much Chinese Food!

As to why? Well I think the demographics say a lot... there certainly is not much of an ethnic face on that part of middle America (don't think they are specifically afraid of everyone... just that perhaps everyone is afraid of them... LOL). No one coming to America seems to move there. As per my previous comments on immigration... seriously though it could be due to lack of opportunity as well... the farming life is pretty much tied up by those already in biz.

As to American eating habits... ya they are pretty bad... Statistics Canada say we are still far ahead when it comes to buying fresh or preparing meals at home while they eat out a lot more (some folks now evidently in the USA are eating ALL their meals out... including Breakfast). As to whether they are afraid to try new things, I've certainly seen that in "middle of the road" America (be that geographically or economically). The more adventurous seem to be those in bigger cities with more of an ethnic influence (again back to demographics) or the better educated / wealthier. For example... great food choices in Florida, New York, Chicago, California.

One thing I have noticed in recent years though is a curiosity about "new" things... just like I sometimes ask them questions about their politics or lack of health care (which they just as often ask me about) there also seems to be questions from them about our multiculturalism. Both the Health Care Questions and others tend to always start "Is it true that in Canada you have..."

The US may be slow to adapt new concepts in some ways (seen as "foreign" ideas) but word is getting out to the average joe, and he is becoming more and more curious / educated.

I haven't fielded too many specific "food" questions... except for the occasional one on Poutine or Alcohol (Beer, Rye Whiskey or Caesar Cocktail) but multicultural questions eventually have some element of food brought into my reply... and in many cases I've found that middle America is open to trying new cuisines, but sadly the opportunity isn't presented.

EDIT - Which brings up another thought... studies say that all this fast food is deadening America's tastebuds (too much salt & sugar) which sets up cravings for foods with high amounts of those ingredients... if things continue in that direction, will people not be able to enjoy a healthy and diverse menu of items from other cultures? (Which for us, and here I mean specifically OF Members, seems to act as a stimulus to our tastebuds as we continually mix-it-up). Interesting thought.

2009 Aug 11
I'm pretty sure that portions in "family style" restaurants are for the most part larger in the states. I noticed this in the past when travelling for work. The portion sizes are huge, and the cost lower than here. And at least some of my american colleagues really really wanted that. - a snippet of a conversation would be - where should I go to eat - well this place gives you big portions, but this other place is even better. Which has better food? The second place has bigger portions ... For at least some large swath of the population portion size was equivalent to food quality.

2009 Aug 11
From : www.statcan.gc.ca

23.1% of Canadians obese
Another 36.1%, were "just" overweight.

From : www.reuters.com

34 percent of Americans are obese
Another 32.7 percent "just" overweight

So they are 67%, and we are 58%

They can have their portion sizes! Not that we are much better it seems, mind you.

2009 Aug 11
I think part of the problem is the availability of low-cost foods that are unhealthy. My sister lives in Memphis and we have visited her many times - we are always surprised by how cheap fast food is!

You can go to a fast food sandwich place and get a foot-long sandwich with 3 burger patties, fries and a drink for $3. Compare this to spending the same to just get salad fixings, it's not hard to see why a person on a lower income might opt for this choice.

I believe that the disparity between fast food and fresh/supermarket options is not as great here, therefore, many of us will often go to e.g, Metro and grab a fresh salad for the same price as a fast food burger.

I think it's all a question of options and income. It's not always a case of 'When you know better, you do better'.


2009 Aug 11
Coincidentally, a friend posted this in facebook a few days ago


Then he reported this : "So I walked over to Sobeys at lunch. Bought 170grams (6oz) of sliced turkey, two granny smith apples, 85 grams of cashews=$6.08. I didn't finish the turkey, nor could I eat two apples, and only had a handful of cashews plus I drink water and there is lots of that in the tap. So, really what I bought was overkill. Could have been $1 or more less."

2009 Aug 11
Two different thoughts but indeed very relavent:

1. Portion Size - Sourdough you are absolutely correct, somehow Americans are always tied to capitalism... in this case getting value for their money (doesn't have to be good, just a bargain). Part of the reason stores like WalMart have made such inroads into their marketplace... the population does't really care to shop at Department Stores anymore (although lets face it WalMart has a lot more in common nowadays with a Huge Department store than a Dollar Store or a Five & Dime). Same is true for their eating habits, if it is inexpensive (or perceived to be via big portions) then that perks their interest. Another example of this... Buffets have pretty much come and gone in Canada, but are alive and well in the USA. Americans love the "all you can eat concept", as Canadians we tend to (a) eat less (b) wonder more about food quality... how long has that chicken salad been sitting out... and who sneezed on it?

2. Cheap Fast Food - Again economics... Jojo I agree I can't believe how cheap it is to eat out in America (believe it is tied to income levels, it costs more to eat out here because our Minimum Wage is much Higher... so the guy at the Burger Joint is going to be making about twice the wage of his American counterpart). As I said higher up in this topic, more and more studies are showing that there is a portion of the American population who now eats all their meals away from home (could definitely account for Zym's Obsesity Stats).... But then if you can grab breakfast for $ 3, and Lunch for $ 5 and Dinner for $ 10 (or say $ 15 if you hit a Buffet) that adds up to less than $ 20 per day for an Adult (less than $ 25 if you go "fancy" and visit a sit-down chain). Remember too, that unlike us they have lower sales tax, so even when you add on tax and tip, it is super low vs eating in Canada. Part of the reason Americans freak out when they visit here as a Tourist... they can't believe (a) Lack of Buffets, (b) Size of the Portions, (c) Cost of Meal overall, (d) Taxes... there $ 20 a day habit as listed above comes in at about $ 50 here ($ 5 for Breakfast, $ 10 for Lunch, $ 25 for Dinner, plus Taxes & Tip).

Stats Can says it is still cheaper to buy food and prepare it at home, and Health Canada is certainly trying to promote that in the schools, particularly in the lower income areas (GF is a Teacher in one such area of Ottawa... they get a lot of info on nutrition... and social help besides just the Breakfast Programs).

In the USA, the biggest problem with obesity seems to be amongst the poor and uneducated... again thought to be tied to economic buying power. Although the middle class is certainly gaining ground (thought to be more a case of convenience / laziness). The wealthy and the mega rich tend to be in better shape because they can (a) afford to eat better... or at least in better places, and (b) are more likely to have leisure time to "specific" exercise (ie belong to a gym).