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Posted on Tue, Dec 1, 2009 : 9:30 a.m.

When did healthy food become a luxury?

By Corinna Borden

Borden - Zingermans Bread

Zingerman's Chocolate Sourdough, Sourdough, and Pain de Montagne.

Photo courtesy of Luxist

Zingerman’s Bakehouse has won the Luxist Readers’ Choice Award for Best Bread Bakery!

Looking through the Luxist weblog (sponsored by Cadillac) I was reminded of that quote from Mostly Harmless, by Douglas Adams, where he describes a certain space ship as one shown “in the sort of magazines that were designed to provoke civil unrest.” My snarkiness aside, I was captivated by several of their articles, among them a description of wellies for royalty, pictures of Halle Barry’s home in Beverly Hills, and even pictures of the annual Nantucket Island’s Christmas stroll.

As I continued to devour descriptions of palatial homes in the Bahamas, I became sad.

Sad because I feel I am being told in order to choose traditionally made food, which often goes hand in hand with sustainable harvest practices, you have to live in a $15 million home in Atherton, CA. Certainly there are items at Dean and Deluca that are a special treat, but again, why are people choosing to believe that making bread with unbromated flour, a banned carcinogen in Europe and Canada, is a luxury? I am not sure when it became everyday to devour bags of Doritos mostly created in a flavor factory in New Jersey and brown rice, beans, and real cheese became a luxury but I don’t think the nation’s health has been helped by the shift.

It returns again to what I spoke about in my first Farm to Fork, you vote with your wallet. For me, that means choosing food that I feel is healthy: healthy for the earth (will that land be able to sustain my grandchildren?), healthy for all of the people involved with the food chain (do the tea pickers in China have health care?), and healthy for me (do I know what the ingredients look like?). If these food establishments lauded by Luxist are raising our nation’s consciousness about where our food comes from, I would like to redefine their definition of luxury.

Other Luxist Reader’s Choice winners include Dean and Deluca for best online gourmet, Dorothy Lane in Dayton for the best gourmet grocery store, Farmstead in Rhode Island for the best cheese shop, and Petrossian for best caviar.

Drop me a line! Check out my website! Post a comment and start the conversation rolling!


Corinna Borden

Thu, Dec 3, 2009 : 8:40 a.m.

Wow! Chilepepper - thank you so much for sharing about the Michigan Bean Commission - their recipes look great! and I hear you about the slow cooker, I love popping a whole bunch of things into mine, and then coming home to the smell of something hot and delicious waiting for me.

Tom Teague

Wed, Dec 2, 2009 : 1:45 p.m.

Chilepepper - Initially, I thought you were joking about a Michigan Bean Commission. But indeed there is one and it maintains a very good website at Thank you for expanding my horizons.


Wed, Dec 2, 2009 : 9:59 a.m.

Hey,folks. There are many options for cheap, high quality food. Delicious soups can be made from beans that are cooked at home at a fraction of the cost. For those with limited time and resources, a slow cooker is cheap, the savings great and flavor the best. For meat eaters, quantities don't need to be large. A few lamb bones from the Farmer's Market for $1 a pound or a half a pound of grass fed beef from Arbor Farms can flavor a gallon of soup and sometimes enough meat for a stew. There are recipes everywhere. Try the Michigan Bean Commission's on line recipes, King Arthur Flour's whole grain recipes, on line. Toast your own bulk oats for cereal: granola and cooked. As any self respecting grandma in the projects can tell you, junk food is NOT cheaper. It is faster but takes more to keep young tummies full as the low quality carbs and sugars don't satisfy hunger as long. Remember who the parent is. You are in charge for such a short time and with your guidance, your children have potential for long healthy lives. Skip that TV show, read a book to your children, talk to your children while that delicious soup bubbles on the back burner or slow cooker (cooked ahead for the next day/days). You don't need to spend the big bucks on Zingerman's bread. Get your children on board with 100% whole grain bread. Heck, even Wonderbread has a soft all whole wheat loaf then move on to more substantial loaves. Take it a little at a time and anyone can provide the family with the high quality food we all deserve


Wed, Dec 2, 2009 : 8:04 a.m.

Processed, crappy food is inexpensive and the prices usually do not rise with inflation. Luckily, Ann Arbor does have a lot of choices for healthy, locally grown food. A lot of lower income families struggle with healthy food choices because it is more desireable to purchase a larger quantity of less nutritious food (to fill hungry bellies and larger families) than it is to buy smaller amounts of nutrition dense foods that may not go as far. Many families make this choice every day. Healthy, inexpensive, and nutrition dense foods should be a norm, not a luxury.


Wed, Dec 2, 2009 : 6:35 a.m.

At least here in Ann Arbor we have numerous options for where to buy food that isn't poisoned with petrochemicals (artificial colors, flavors, preservatives). Many synthetic chemical sensitive people have to travel dozens of miles to find a Whole Foods Market, let alone independent stores or a farmers market. Still, eliminating the federal subsidy programs that warp our food market seems like a good place to start.


Tue, Dec 1, 2009 : 6:05 p.m.

Corinna: When I have to pay more for products which have fewer ingredients, only the essential, healthy choices, something is indeed bizarre. No wonder the poorer folks are having weight problems. When I recently had my yearly medical exam, I was given a questionnaire with various choices of different food combinations - the combinations with 'low fat' and 'low sugar' were graded to be more healthy. Of course, if you want to eat what comes out of the 'flavor factories.'


Tue, Dec 1, 2009 : 12:07 p.m.

To answer the question in the title, some would say, "since corn has been subsidized." It is an issue of ingridients. Have you tried to eat the FDA recomendations of fruits and veggies on a daily basis? Fresh produce is very expensive no matter how its prepared, especially lots of it. If we got off the corn subsidation and all that it includes (syrup, etc), and switch to subsidizing non-sugar based veggies, that might go along way towards making healthier eating available to all.