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  • Ho or No?

    Gotta lay off the Yahoo. However, since I'm already on edge, I'm going to share. According to this article, a minor celeb tweeted her opinions about current celeb fashion trends, specifically how she feels there is too much skin showing these days.

    Lots of back-and-forth on this, including some top-dollar name-calling. "Institutionalized misogyny" was thrown down as well. Perhaps, but let's flip this argument.

    Men attend formal functions dressed in full suits, and the cleaner the cut, the better the fit, the sexier they are. What's in a tuxedo? A full-sleeve button-down shirt with a tie, covering up the entire torso and arms down to the wrist. The jacket even hides the upper glute area. The slacks go down to the ankle. Shoes hide the entire foot.

    I've got two words for you: Daniel Craig.

    Hang on, I've got to get my breath back.

    OK, I'm good now. So, let's talk about this showing too much skin thing. Why don't men go out in cut out shirts that show off biceps, cut pecs, ripped abs? What about tight-fitting hotpants? "Nearly naked" formals?

    Oh yeah. They do. At the drag show.

    Ask nearly any woman and she'll tell you that nobody notices her unless she's somehow flaunting her "good stuff." An actress isn't noteworthy in the style pages unless she is wearing something that leaves little to the imagination. Any actress will try you that to stay relevant, they have to be seen, photographed, published, and then talked about but not disparaged.

    Yet the men are covered from neck to toe. I don't understand it. For a man to get noticed, he needs to be covered. For a woman, the less she wears, the better.


    It's not about modesty in women. That concept is so antiquated it's ridiculous. No, it's about goose vs gander. If guys don't have to show off skin to get noticed, women shouldn't have to, either.

    It's that simple.

    A Broken System

    There's an article currently on Yahoo about a family of four who is struggling to exist on $500 in "food stamps" per month.
    The children describe their life as a routine of hunger. The mother talks about food options, or lack of, available in her neighborhood. The author discusses in detail the mother's confessions about food ignorance--not knowing what half the fresh veggies are at the market nor knowing which ones can be eaten raw--and also about how cheap low-nutrient, highly-processed foods are compared to the fresh foods. She acknowledges that this is a problem while admitting she doesn't know anything else.
    It is a disservice to this mother to try to claim her problems stem from living in New York City. My experience working in a grocery store in "regular America" has shown me that this food ignorance is far too common among recipients of assistance.
    This is why the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)--the "food stamp" benefit--fails. Not because it discourages recipients from trying to improve their situation in the workforce, or that it might encourage generational dependence. There is absolutely nothing done to teach recipients about food.
    They are simply given lists of things they can and can't buy on the program. A food pyramid print-out isn't enough to help parents make good decisions about foods. Technically, canned pasta is a grain and a vegetable. Fruit juices are, in fact, counted as fruit servings, and a half-gallon of fruit juice contains more servings"for less money than a bag of fresh apples. Without better guidance, most recipients try to buy the most food they can with the benefits. That's the goal: more food must mean less hunger, right?
    The author and mother in this article seem to focus on "organic" versus "processed," and together they miss the point: a family of four certainly can eat for $20 or less per day and feel quite satisfied every day, provided they plan ahead and then purchase wisely.
    My monthly grocery bill is $500 or less for a family of five plus two finicky cats. This includes non-food items such as toilet paper and cleaning supplies. My nearly-grown children can only be described as well-fed by any doctor. But how do I do it?
    Rule #1--Walk past the beef quickly! In our house we eat a lot of chicken and pork. It's cheaper than beef per pound, even for coveted boneless breasts. It's also healthier, with lower fat content overall. The options for cooking chicken and pork are nearly endless as well, so while you're having the same meat base every single day, the flavors are as varied as the spice cabinet. One whole roasting chicken: $5 or less.
    Rule #2--The cheapest canned veggies are just as good as the name brand, but a bag of frozen veggies is the best value altogether. A two-pound bag of frozen veggies, cooked with seasonings, serves all five of us twice over for about $2.50 per bag. We would have to open at least 8 cans of veggies to get the same quantity.
    Cheaper dinner: box of pasta ($1), cheap sauce ($1.50), bag of veggies, ($2.50), slice of buttered bread each ($0.50). Five people fed for less than $6, and it's tasty.
    Rule #3--Bananas and apples are often more than one serving each! Unless you buy the smallest varieties, divide them between two people to stretch your savings. Pair them with a side of peanut butter for a protein punch that will help keep them feeling full longer. This is a great afternoon snack for about 50c per person.
    Rule #4--Hot breakfast is amazing and healthy! It takes about 10 minutes to scramble some eggs. I buy the super box of 3 dozen for $5, and cook 2 eggs per person (we're all adults, as children they only got one). That's $1.40 for eggs each morning. Add two slices of bread, half an apple, and a glass of milk per person, it's about $5 (high estimate) per day.
    So, hot protein-filled breakfast with fruit and toast every day, pb&j plus fruit lunch every day, chicken and two servings of veggies every day for dinner. Estimated total cost per day: less than $17 if I don't use coupons. This is if we go big on the meats. I also hit all the major marks on the food pyramid and my family rarely complains of being hungry.
    By carefully creating menus and sticking to them, selecting cheaper meats and sides, offering fresh fruits and veggies more than canned or juiced, drinking water instead of soda, and comparing sales to find the best overall deal, I can feed my family of 5 for about $400 a month. Sure, it's a little boring, but when your budget is more about survival than surfing, a little adventure can lead to an empty tummy!
    How can I do this for a family of five when the mother in the article can't do the same for her family of four? Education. I had a mother who taught me kitchen skills and a public education system that stressed health education as much as math and science. As an expectant mother, my obstetrician's office offered short classes on how to feed babies and children.
    This wealth of information available should be available to anyone who wants to be healthy, but clearly it isn't. The mother in this article said as much. This is, in my opinion, the major contributor to the overall failure of the SNAP program.