McArdle flippantly titled her economic analysis Time To Short Jenny Craig?, merging those who choose to diet with those who are forced to give up food. In Grannie's day, Megan muses, a woman didn't need all those elite brand names, fancy teas, cooked chickens, drinks out and restaurant meals.
But without a wife at home, who has time to make meals from scratch?
Lots of people, it turns out. They also have time to make sandwiches for work instead of buy them, and comparison shop for better deals on what they do bring home. And looking at the list of what America is cutting back on, I wonder if we'll see a reversal of another trend: America's growing waistline. There is a school of thought which says that the reason Americans are getting fatter is not so much the absolute price of food as the kind of food we consume--what Seth Roberts calls "ditto foods". These are commercially prepared foods which have high calorie density and are what some scientists call "hyperpalatable"--i.e. extremely flavorful. They're also carefully prepared to ensure that they taste virtually the same every time. The easy availability of these foods causes our bodies to kick up our "set point"--what our bodies naturally want us to weigh. Our appetite regulation mechanisms do the rest.
Home prepared meals are much less standardized, and not so fined tuned to hit the salty/sweet/fatty buttons over and over. Also, much of the shopping is done for them when you aren't actually hungry, and so you're likely to pick healthier foods with lower caloric density--committing your future self to behave more virtuously than it probably would decide to on the spur of the moment. A leaner wallet may mean a leaner you.
Woah, there, Megan! Look out! It looks like your strawman there is about to topple over and suffocate you!
What does the grocery decisions of a mildly wealthy woman have to do with people who can't afford to buy as much food anymore? Could it be that you are cleverly and slickly conflating the two so you can diminish the impact of growing poverty, because it might make you feel bad or look bad? Might make you wonder if all your support for derivatives and bankers will get people a teesy bit testy with you? Or is it simply a business decision, in which you hear your master's voice, and as Stephen Colbert so memorably said, write it down, publish it, and pretend you're still a journalist?
So what if people have to eat less and eat cheaper foods? They're too fat anyway. Poverty and hunger are good things! A leaner wallet may mean a leaner you!
Here is a picture of a lucky poor family during the '30s. See how lean the man's arms are? Not even any muscle left! And the woman holding her baby? Also lean! But you know what? The little children aren't skinny enough. Their little cheeks are still round and fat.
The parents were starving themselves to feed their children.
I guess they just had too much food.