June 21, 2013

The snobbish rejection of pre-fabbishness.

We're finally getting around to putting wood flooring in the one room in this big house that hasn't had it, and we got into comparing pre-finished wood flooring and what I call — in my impoverished lingo — real floors. In the showroom, I had to suppress my urge to say things like "It doesn't look real" and "It looks like fake wood" and "You might as well have wood-patterned linoleum" more than... well, what do you think is decent? 20 times?

Back at Meadhouse, 12 hours later, we had a conversation about the prejudice against pre-fab things. We're not disrespecting pre-fab homes anymore. Some of the best-made, coolest houses are in this category. And no one sniffs at ready-to-wear clothing, because no one even knows anyone who wears couture. You might sew your own clothes and knit your own sweaters if you had some meditative, aesthetic relationship with fabric/yarn, but you still wouldn't think ill of the pre-made stuff in the stores. Some people might coo over handmade pottery, but it's more elevated aesthetically to value straightforward perfection that's mass produced and machine-made.

So, let's talk about packaged food — processed food. It's another category of prefab, and it's an area where rejection is on the upswing. The idea of cooking your own food and making everything from scratch — the finest, purest scratch — is pushed by opinion leaders. Should we be following Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan — or would a scoop of skepticism hit the spot? Here's a long — really long — article in The Atlantic with the somewhat distracting title "How Junk Food Can End Obesity."
Foodlike substances, the derisive term Pollan uses to describe processed foods, is now a solid part of the elite vernacular. Thousands of restaurants and grocery stores, most notably the Whole Foods chain, have thrived by answering the call to reject industrialized foods in favor of a return to natural, simple, nonindustrialized—let’s call them “wholesome”—foods....

The Pollanites seem confused about exactly what benefits their way of eating provides. All the railing about the fat, sugar, and salt engineered into industrial junk food might lead one to infer that wholesome food, having not been engineered, contains substantially less of them....

The fact is, there is simply no clear, credible evidence that any aspect of food processing or storage makes a food uniquely unhealthy.... The results of all the scrutiny of processed food are hardly scary, although some groups and writers try to make them appear that way....

In many respects, the wholesome-food movement veers awfully close to religion.
When pre-fab things are good, opposition is superstition. That's not sophisticated. The better class of snobs is looking down on you.

ADDED: Meade, reading this post, getting to the excerpts from the really long article, observes that they are the equivalent of fast food. My blogging is processed journalism. Blogging is pre-fab.

ALSO: Here's the actual pre-fab flooring we ended up liking — specifically, the "stained white wash." We're still comparing that to "real floors" — hardwood that is installed and then finished.

144 comments:

jacksonjay said...


Althouse Agony Again!

Lyssa said...

I think (though obviously haven't studied it) that processed food is generally less healthy (from a weight control standpoint) because it is less satisfying - that is, it encourages the eater to eat more of it more quickly, and leaves them feeling empty more quickly.

It seems odd that if food tastes better, I can eat less of it, but I've found it generally to be true. More bang for your (caloric) buck, so to speak.

Meade said...

Bloggin' McNuggets – mmm... tasty AND nutritous.

Ann Althouse said...

"I think (though obviously haven't studied it) that processed food is generally less healthy (from a weight control standpoint) because it is less satisfying - that is, it encourages the eater to eat more of it more quickly, and leaves them feeling empty more quickly."

I agree that the "wolfing" impulse arises out of nutritional poverty, but that's not inherent in processed food or not the case for homemade stuff. I know that's why you said "generally."

I'm terribly irresponsible around crackers, but if they were homemade crackers, I wouldn't be better. I'd probably be worse.

(NOTE: We've been low-carb at Meadhouse since February 2012.)

Captain Ned said...

Ann, I'm with you. Pergo and its bastard children are no substitute for a proper 3/4" thick nailed oak or maple floor.

bagoh20 said...

There is something appealing and cool about the real deal, hand-made, even if inferior in some ways.

That said, I have thick oak hardwood floors that I put in by hand and finished myself, but after 16 years they need refinished for the third time. It's about the same cost as putting down fake wood overtop, but it is so much easier with the new stuff and if you don't like it anymore or it gets worn, it's much easier to just replace it, change the the style, have brand new. I'm gonna cover all my hand done oak with prefab this month, because refinishing is such a mess and a hassle that I just can't do it again, and the new stuff is great.

Mitchell the Bat said...

When you consume meat, you also consume the residue of the terror the animal experienced just before it died.

There are vegetarians out there who believe that.

Chip Ahoy said...

You made your own pizzas, how do they compare with frozen pizzas?

I'll admit opening a box and throwing it in the oven is nice.

But you know what? I'm so ace at that sort of thing *buffs fingernails on shirt* it's so easy to do, so genuinely effortless that making one is easy as opening a box. In fact, I could do it right now in four minutes flat.

I just pulled four minutes out of my butt, it's more like ten minutes, I'm actually ponderous, but a friend did just now tell me that my astonishing speed at this sort of thing blew his fucking mind, so there's that.

Chase said...

Working in the food industry for 30+ years, I can unequivocally state that you are correct about snobs.

One excellent example:
LA Unified School District - the second largest in the nation - has for years led the country - and Congress - on the wave of food planning for schools. 3 years ago, LAUSD decided that Pizza and Burritos - the #1 and #2 items in school lunches in America - would no longer be on the menu, but "healthier alternatives" that the children were "clammering for" (you know how children always complain about pizza and burritos not being healthy enough).

In answer to a question at a meeting with industry manufacturers about how much food was being thrown away every day at his LAUSD Middle School, the principal did not hesitate: 40%. This was before the new menu changes. After the changes, the percentage of thrown-aways jumped to over 50%, approaching 60% - your tax dollars at work folks (USDA approved). LAUSD began quietly returning several items to the menu under the radar.

Now, what does this have to do with processed foods? The public is highly ignorant that with the school nutritional standards recently imposed by the USDA, "natural" is impossible in every food, and unbelievable compilations have been manufactured to fit the organic and natural labels for schools.

Just sayin', from someone on the front lines.

Chip Ahoy said...

I believe it too, Mitchell the Bat, and further, I believe that is what makes me strong.

TMink said...

At our house we cook often but with three 10 year olds, we also get pre-fab food. The cooking rocks as it tastes so good and is so much cheaper, but sometimes it makes sense to let someone else do that for us.

Trey

TANSTAAFL said...

I don't like free range chicken eggs. Too runny.

TMink said...

We are low carb as well, and crackers are like the word without the ers to me. So I feel your pain.

Trey

edutcher said...

The non-pre-fabbed stuff not only costs more (most of the time), it's a lot more work.

You want to bust your back and your bank account for quality?

Good for you, but every once in a while, the cheaper stuff is necessary.

jacksonjay said...

Althouse Agony Again!

Meade keeps her grounded.

With hawsers, on occasions.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Jacques Pépin had a cooking series called Fast Food My Way.

He showed how to prepare tasty meals at home with lots of shortcuts in very little time.

His credo was "let the supermarket be your prep cook."

That's some good advice, there.

Nathan Alexander said...

Avoiding pre-fab foods may or not be healthier, but one thing for sure:

It is significantly cheaper.

My wife has the time to shop 2-3 times/week at 2 locations (including Costco), plus a monthly run to the Chinese supermarket.

The result is she feeds a family of 4 on less than $200/month, mainly by avoiding processed food (and often building meals around "clearance" grocery items).

We eat better than most...I'm the envy of my cubicle-mates. SNAP is supposed to be merely supplemental, but if we qualified, we could feed our family of 4 and still have leftover SNAP funds to put in the bank.

Lem said...

I also take it we rather procreate than adopt an already made child.

You should make a list.

rhhardin said...

Bamboo isn't wood. It's grass.

Paul Rinkes said...

I am currently halfway through the awesome book "Salt Sugar Fat" by Michael Moss and it's reinforcing my beliefs that processed food is just plain not good for you – not in a snobbish, "OMG I totally made homemade water" way ... The chemicals added to processed food are just not healthy for humans.

pblazer said...

Hey, I like The Monkees.

Ann Althouse said...

"You made your own pizzas..."

Meade made the pizzas, or we had them made for us at Porta Alba where the oven is 1000°, but I haven't had one bite of pizza since we went low-carb in Feb. 2012.

I've had bread about 10 times since then, approximately 0 potatoes, and pasta in a very small portion about 4 times. 0 portions of rice or other grains.

Is that crazy?

Compensating: lots of bacon and steak.

bagoh20 said...

In some bedrooms that used to have carpet, I put down very inexpensive single piece wood grained foam linoleum type stuff. It fools most people. It looks and feels like wood, but it is impervious to liquids, really easy to maintain, and for 200 buck and 3 hours I can change the whole room to a new style. If you have dogs or kids, it's a great option.

Lem said...

I'm so ace at that sort of thing *buffs fingernails on shirt*

And you can prove it.

Remember what you did with the Ramen Noodles?

Ann Althouse said...

"Clammering"

Clammering for clams.

viator said...

Go to a custom sawmill and mill-work outfit and ask them about quarter sawn hardwood, oak or other species. You will then have a choice of widths and lengths. Find a good local hardwood floor installer and finisher (generally the same person). You will end up with a quality floor of unmatched beauty at a decent price point.

In my area I would recommend these people:

Kennedy

In Wisconsin, maybe these folks?

Westby

Wikipedia

traditionalguy said...

Factory finished and cut wood is a better product. Feeling better from doing a floor from scratch is making a big mistake.

Wood is wood. The work done to the wood adds value.

Snob appeal requires one to install a very ugly floor that only a rich person could afford to have special made. Any middle class person can afford good looking wood floors in their home.

Ann Althouse said...

"Bamboo isn't wood. It's grass."

That's why the hippies like us like it.

Amartel said...

I'm a snob about green slow-food foodies. What a bunch of yokels. They waste a staggering amount of time and money on the topic of sustenance, which is readily and efficiently available, time which would be better spent improving their tiny little brains.

Meade said...

"Bamboo isn't wood. It's grass. "

I know. I'm looking forward to scything instead of vacuuming the living room floor.

Inga said...

Pre fab foods are cheaper. Fruits and veggies and meat definitely costlier, and pershable. I guess I fall into the food elitist group, I won't eat or buy the stuff.

Inga said...

Also there are great recipes for low carb crackers.

Basta! said...

That's a bamboo floor at the link. Bamboo doesn't stand up well to big dogs. Also, China has been speeding up production by pumping nasty chemicals into the plants, which rather dents the "green" argument for using it.

Inga said...

Why not eat potaoes and white rice? In moderation?

Chip Ahoy said...

The whole time I was reading this I was reminded of what Doug Merrill said regarding a faux marble tabletop, "I object to everything faux."

*ding*

That resonated with me. They were art projects all over the house. Of the wife.

The house was amazing. Ed and I raced over to meet Doug and real estate agent. Ed is Doug's twin and they look exactly alike. And Doug is mad as hell at Ed and me for being late. Doug also said something I had to look up. About the best part of the house, an extension from a den into the lawn that created an attractive glass room loaded with tropicals, "Everything is fine until they blew it with this blister."

It was another fake thing he objected to.

Funny thing *points* Doug said he admired the house years earlier but it was guarded and his access prohibited but his interest was so keen he waited for Halloween and dressed up and visited in costume and gained contact that way. They were not interested in selling.

And then later things changed and they did put in on the market.

But Doug did not buy it.

Incidentally, while we were there in the back yard, more compact than my own actually, I asked Ed how did this house compare in size to the house they grew up in, a house that I never saw, and Ed goes, "Doug! Chip wants to know how this place compares to Montana House." (It's on Long Island but named Montana) Doug answered, "Oh, I'd say about 4 X bigger, don't you think? "

So. I'm with Dough. Knock it off with the false crap, it really does devalue things. The lynolium Lynolium lynolium xxxx floor in my kitchen is apparently made to be replaced.

And what's up with having to refinish a floor three times? What are you doing over there? Put a nice thick coat of polyurethane on it and it locks it in like a sheet of bulletproof glass. <-- contains possible exaggeration.

rhhardin said...

If the house burns down, bamboo charcoal is good for the garden.

Lem said...

The idea of cooking your own food and making everything from scratch — the finest, purest scratch — is pushed by opinion leaders.

For a long time, I didn’t understand what making a meal "from scratch" was because that’s how I grew up seeing it made. I still have a hard with the concept.

It could be because scratch sounds a lot like scraps. Scraps just doesn’t sound appetizing.
That’s how I was processing it.

(I got to get back to work)

Sigivald said...

We're not disrespecting pre-fab homes anymore. Some of the best-made, coolest houses are in this category.

"Sustainable" marketing isn't cool, sorry.

At least not with anyone worth considering - and not in general, either.

(And contra various above, "processed" means nothing regarding food.

Cutting up a carrot? "Processing". Cooking anything? "Processing".

And "whole, raw food is best" is pure pseudoscience at best, and simple naturalistic fallacy at worst.)

Rusty said...

As long as it isn't real Tonkin cane I don't give a shit.
Seriously though. You go for prefab for ease of maintenance.
You go with natural for looks, aesthetics.

You have a beautiful old house. Go old school.
my.02

bagoh20 said...

You know that product they sell on TV called "Napolena", very expensive stuff you drink, that makes you beautiful and stuff?

It's named after "Napoles" - Spanish for "prickly pears". I have literally a ton of those things growing in my backyard every year. These cacti which grow to about 10 ft are incredible. They don't need watered even in this arid climate, and they grow like crazy overnight. I constantly have to cut them down, and throw them out in the field behind my house. All the pieces that land on the ground grow into new huge trees in about 2 years. They don't need to be planted or watered they just grow right out of themselves like freaking alien plants.

After the first year they start budding all these flowers in spring and by summer they are covered with fruits. Very sweet, succulent deep orange-fleshed fruit with a very different taste - a good taste.

I bet right now I have enough growing that if they were harvested and put in those fancy Napolena bottles, I'd be stinking rich. No effort at all on my part. That was a good idea they had there.

Basta! said...

Mitchell the Bat said: "When you consume meat, you also consume the residue of the terror the animal experienced just before it died.

There are vegetarians out there who believe that."

Don't they know that carrots scream when they're ripped out of the ground. Huh. HUH! If only you heartless veggy-murderers would just listen to the carrot: eeeeeek, you're killling meeeee!

:)

rhhardin said...

The word bamboo is onomatopoeic‎.

Mitchell the Bat said...

We bought our house new and paid extra for upgraded hardwood floors.

What we got was the pre-finished stuff (Bruce) with the chamfered edges.

Wish we hadn't. Looks like shit.

In retrospect, we should have bought the house as a shell and hired our own contractors to do the finish work.

ALL OF IT.

Oh, well. Live and learn.

bagoh20 said...

"And what's up with having to refinish a floor three times? What are you doing over there? Put a nice thick coat of polyurethane on it and it locks it in like a sheet of bulletproof glass. <-- contains possible exaggeration."

Yes it does. I do coat with polyurethane. Three coats, but I have lots of big dogs, and I'm not old, I'm kind of a graying child, so I'm hard on stuff.

It just takes too long and is too messy to refinish. The result is also never as good as the new fake.

Remember, even natural wood floors are fake. The real natural home is a cave with dirt floors. A natural woman, has hair that sticks straight up from being dragged home, and she smells like old carpet.

Peter said...

I've discovered the joys of ersatz. While everyone else has been experiencing the joys of authenticity, I've found that ersatz often has qualities which can't be obtained in the real stuff.

Which is why, when I wanted a hard floor, I bought laminate- because it doesn't dent as easily as wood, and it's easy to install.

And in a bathroom I installed (horrors!) vinyl- because it's impervious to water, easy to clean (no damned grout!) and lasts practically forever.

So there.

Tim said...

Bamboo needs humidity or it will shrink and split. I just put cork planks in the kitchen. It is a floating floor that clicks together (sort of) so easy to change if you want to. Rest of the house is 90 year old oak.

Methadras said...

I buy prefabricated things and i also build things with my hands. One is not prefered over the other outside of mere convenience. Snobbish rejection of pre-fabbishness is nothing more than an extension of the idiocy that leftists project with their fads of the week from Shit White People Like. However, that being said, you have to be discriminating about what you buy.

AprilApple said...

Don't hold back. If it's hideous, just say so. Life's too short.

Tibore said...

How times have changed. "Pre fab home" used to be a euphemism for trailer park residence.

Titus said...

I just had lobster roll at Alive and Kicking Lobsters a few blocks from office.

Amazing and for $15.95 that is a pretty good deal here. It's a food truck parked in a parking lot and has lines wrapped around the building.

My entire loft is pre fab everything-stark, stark, stark, and minimal minimal minimal.

I feel bad to admit that I never actually make a meal at home. I eat out for practically everything unless I decide not to eat dindin and then it maybe is popcorn.

I spend about $400-$500 a week on eating out.

Unless if we are "summering". This weekend we are goig to Ptown so that will blow up my weekly food bill. Cafe Edwige here we cum.

Peter said...

My problem with pre-fab foods isn't that there full of strange substances (although they are) but that they're so full of sugar and salt.

Yes, I know- sugar and salt taste good. And I'm sure processors understand that few things you can eat are as inexpensive.

But I've just had my limit of high sugar and salt foods, so I avoid 'em. It's more work to put stuff together but it costs less. Although one must become acquainted with the spice rack to put some flavor into foods prepared with minimal salt and sugar.

And, really, not much is authentic anyway (yes, that "artisinal bread" you just bought was baked in a giant factory).

If you really want to get authentic about eating then you'll just have to eat the moldy root vegetables and heavily salted meats and fish that our ancestors used to eat all winter long (which seems to mean nine months or so a year in Wisconsin anyway).

AprilApple said...

Bagoh - You gotta hire someone to re-finish the floors. Take the dogs and move out for a few days.

Chip - *ding* total agreement. The worst thing in the design world is faux paint on a wall. Isn't that neat? It looks like the bottom of a trash can. *ding*
No - It looks like old world plaster! No - It looks like the bottom of a trash can.

Meade said...

"Remember, even natural wood floors are fake. The real natural home is a cave with dirt floors. A natural woman, has hair that sticks straight up from being dragged home, and she smells like old carpet."

You've described Meadhouse. Except of the smell part. The old carpet smells like old carpet. She smells like heaven.

Ron said...

If you were to blog about a certain Liverpool musical group ahead of time and trot it out to make sure you 'never miss a day', would that be Pre-Fab Fab Blogging?

garage mahal said...

I spend about $400-$500 a week on eating out.

LOL

Rabel said...

The great thing about bamboo flooring is that you can brag to your friends and neighbors about its eco-friendliness.

For double fun, throw a pandaskin rug down on top of it and invite a few folks from the U over for a look.

And a serious question for Meade - what kind of sub-floor do you have in an older house like that?

It occurs to me now that directing that question to Meade may be sexist. I do apologise.

chuckR said...

I have mostly 3/4" clear white ash floors, but the last remuddle I did when my son moved out of his room - and in with my soon to be daughter-in-law - I put down a 5/8" floating floor. It is vertical grain bamboo. More durable than the ash, its "real" although highly processed and also it is more stable through seasonal cycles. Unlike ash, the stuff is ready to be harvested again in a few years.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Meadhouse, bamboozled!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The non-pre-fabbed stuff not only costs more (most of the time), it's a lot more work.

I disagree and agree. Cooking from scratch is by FAR cheaper than buying pre made food....but it does take some work and some time and some actually THOUGHT.

I don't included buying canned goods or frozen vegetables as pre made food. I'm talking about the pre made burritos, hot pocket sandwiches, frozen pizza, frozen dinners, premade chicken pot pies etc. Certainly people don't, as a rule, can their own vegetables, make their own jam, churn their own butter, make their own ice cream. And there are some items that are just too difficult to make and are actually cheaper to buy pre made....crackers for instance.

Just examine the amount of meals and the quality of food that can be served up for a week at a cost of $40 per person. Compare what you would get if you bought and cooked your food from scratch and what you would get if you purchased fast food or pre made meals. It is night and day.

Darcy said...

bagoh20, you're breaking my heart covering up that wood floor!

Worn wood floors can be shabby chic. :)

Meade said...

Ron said...
"If you were to blog about a certain Liverpool musical group ahead of time and trot it out to make sure you 'never miss a day', would that be Pre-Fab Fab Blogging?"

Yes. In fact, it would be Pre-Fab Fab Four Fore-Blogging for the blog.

bagoh20 said...

"I spend about $400-$500 a week on eating out."

Ritmo spends that much just on the 5-star take out he gives to the homeless, which amounts to some half eaten bread and the parsley. Still, it's 5-star.

AprilApple said...

In my dream home, that resides in my head, the first floor is 100% concrete-- Smooth stained messy concrete. - either gray or brown.

The upper level is small w/ only the bedrooms and the floor is carpet. I hate carpet but I want something soft under my feet. Esp after walking around on that concrete all day.

AprilApple said...

The older I get, the more I crave simple things. I like Jacques Pépin. I make his recipe for veggie risotto all the time.

Pepin reminds me of my grandmother.

Aridog said...

All a market or restaurant has to do to get me to buy less and eat less of something is label it "organic." I lived in rural Asia for too long, see ..."organic" means "night-soil," which is shit, pure and simple.

I know...most fertilizers are some form of excrement, but labeling food as derived from "shit" makes no sense....I do not need the reminder. I've operated a manure spreaders. I know my shit.

Bob_R said...

Since you have a lot of dog visitors, if you are considering prefab floors you should check out how they SOUND when dogs walk on them. I have a Pergo floor installed over the cement basement floor. Very different sound when pets walk on it or when instrument cables are dropped on it.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

You made your own pizzas...

Meade made the pizzas, or we had them made for us at Porta Alba where the oven is 1000°, but I haven't had one bite of pizza since we went low-carb in Feb. 2012.


Maybe you should, every couple of weeks, do something wild.

Dietetically speaking.

MadisonMan said...

We're also looking at flooring, and might do cork. Except in the upstairs bathroom, where we'll replace the tile with different (attractive) tile that will have radiant heat.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

There is nothing wrong with some good fast food or a prepared frozen thingy from the store once in a while. I love a sausage egg McMuffin when we are traveling. Marie Callander makes some awesome little chicken pot pies that are good for a quick lunch.

But....those are treats. Not regular eating. It doesn't take that much time, really, to cook something. We had crockpot southern style BBQ ribs last week and from those leftovers we had 3 more meals and froze the remainder of the ribs (because we were sick of them by then) into the soup freezer bag. Everything that we think might make a good soup base, scraps of pork, odds and ends of past their prime vegetables like wilted celery, onion half, sad lonely carrot goes into the soup bag.

Crock Pot Ribs.

3 lbs of country style pork ribs (on sale $6)
one onion sliced (.40)
1/2 cup ketchup (.30??)
1/2 cup soy sauce (.65? I buy it by the gallons)
1/4 cup vegetable oil (.30??)
1/4 cup brown sugar (.25)
2 cloves garlic chopped (.15)
2 tbsp Cider Vinegar (.05)
1 tsp celery seed (.30)
salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes (pennies)

Brown the ribs put into crockpot with sliced onion. Mix together the rest of the ingredients and pour over the meat. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Ribs, green salad, french bread.
Less than $10 for a great meal for two people

Leftover meals: Pulled pork sandwiches, using the french bread. Chimichangas with salad makings still left over. Some heated up for hubby's quick lunch. And then the rest into the soup bag.

You CAN eat very well on not much money. Anyone who says no, either has zero idea of how to cook or zero idea of how to budget.

Ann Althouse said...

"So. I'm with Dough. Knock it off with the false crap..."

First time I ever noticed that putting an "h" on "Doug" gets you to "Dough."

Anyway... the line between real and fake is problematized. I remember when it was seen as turning your floors into plastic if you put polyurethane finish on them. You were supposed to buff them with some sort of natural product... the right sort of wax. Even the wrong wax was wrong.

Furniture too. It wasn't enough that it was wood. You had to rub oil into the wood. A urethane finish was practically like using wood-pattered formica.

That was an argument for being forthright about formica. It was more Bauhaus-ish. That was more real. Real fake is more real than fake real.

Ann Althouse said...

Here's a processed food that is better than the foodies' preference: frozen vegetables.

acm said...

I think (though obviously haven't studied it) that processed food is generally less healthy (from a weight control standpoint) because it is less satisfying - that is, it encourages the eater to eat more of it more quickly, and leaves them feeling empty more quickly.

----

I think this depends on what we're even calling "processed food". The veggies in my freezer and fridge are pretty much all "processed" because there's very little I hate more than standing in the kitchen washing and chopping produce. Are they really any different from the unprocessed veg my neighbor buys at the farmer's market, nutritionally speaking?

And then there's the issue of enriched grains. A cereal or loaf of bread made by a slow foody who grinds his own grain doesn't have the evil synthetic chemical vitamins of a loaf of Roman Meal or a bowl of Cheerios. But that would make the processed food with its enriched grain MORE nutrient dense than the the homemade version.

Inga said...

OK, I confess, I will eat a steak, egg and cheese bagel from McDonalds on occasion. Can't resist once in a great while.

Price fresh vegetables and fruits, not cheap. Canned and frozen definitely cheaper and frozen is worth buying.

Methadras said...

bagoh20 said...

"I spend about $400-$500 a week on eating out."

Ritmo spends that much just on the 5-star take out he gives to the homeless, which amounts to some half eaten bread and the parsley. Still, it's 5-star.


You know he was lying about that just so he could appear smug, superior, effete, and better than all of you right? Oh wait...

Anthony said...

I've thought for quite a while that this has basically nothing to do with nutrition or obesity and everything to do with the usual sort of elitism that's been going on for thousands of years. People just never learn; it's like the preceding 8,000 years never even happened.

Bob_R said...

The problem with calling food "processed" is that you are begging the question. All of the world's great hams, salumi, and cheeses are "processed" foods. Does putting Parmesan cheese and Cheesits in the same category make sense? If you want to go beyond the silly scare tactics, you have to start talking about specific preservatives and how bad they are in specific amounts. I admit I have not read Bittman and Pollan. But most of the people spouting this stuff don't know the (mostly bad) science on the subject. Rejecting the processed or prefab may a useful shortcut to avoid a lot of research, but it doesn't always find the best answer.

Unknown said...

Just a heads up... A floor guy recently told me that the big difference between pre-finished hardwood and the stuff done the old fashioned way (laid and then finished) is that in the latter case, the floor will be perfectly seamless because they are able to seal the cracks during the finishing process, whereas the pre-finished floor will always have tiny cracks between boards that will eventually attract, dust, dirt, etc, and over time will expand and contract. Just saying...

John Lynch said...

People are still mad about the industrial revolution.

Unknown said...

Just a heads up... A floor guy recently told me that the big difference between pre-finished hardwood and the stuff done the old fashioned way (laid and then finished) is that in the latter case, the floor will be perfectly seamless because they are able to seal the cracks during the finishing process, whereas the pre-finished floor will always have tiny cracks between boards that will eventually attract, dust, dirt, etc, and over time will expand and contract. Just saying...

bagoh20 said...

""bagoh20, you're breaking my heart covering up that wood floor!"

That's the beauty of the new floating floors. You can simply take them back up, and you have your original floor back - just like it was back in caveman days.

Ann Althouse said...

"In my dream home, that resides in my head, the first floor is 100% concrete-- Smooth stained messy concrete. - either gray or brown."

That's a modern, Frank Lloyd Wright type idea. With radiant heat. We have this modern house in our heads.

"The upper level is small w/ only the bedrooms and the floor is carpet. I hate carpet but I want something soft under my feet."

You can have all that in slippers. Our modern house is all one level. So all concrete.

Ann Althouse said...

Concrete for the kitchen counters too.

None of this granite bullshit.

dbp said...

"I've had bread about 10 times since then, approximately 0 potatoes, and pasta in a very small portion about 4 times. 0 portions of rice or other grains.

Is that crazy?"

It is not crazy if it works and you can live without lovely lovely carbs. I find that the Fast Diet is easier though and you can eat what you want on the days you are allowed to eat. Even the two "fasting" days/week allow 500 calories, so they are not that hard.

Astro said...

Ten years ago, I bought an almost-finished house the builder had built on speculation. I wanted oak flooring in the main living area. Sometime after I moved in I was disappointed to find the flooring was 'engineered' oak, i.e., a plywood base with a thick oak 'veneer'. Technically, it met the definition of the flooring I'd specified, but it was not the 'pure', solid oak I'd expected.
Nevertheless, it has held up remarkably well. The factory-applied urethane finish looks almost as good as the day it was installed - and has held up much better than done-in-my-house finish on the 'real' oak flooring in my previous home.

ricpic said...

That stained white ash will make an outstanding floor, IMO. I went to the floor sample site and after looking at all the samples and before I read that you had chosen the white ash I said to myself, "That's the one I hope they chose, head and shoulders above all the others." And you did!

ricpic said...

I used to think I hated carpeting but as long as the carpet has a certain firmness to it it's good in its own way. I go from wood to carpet to wood to linoleum in my house and they're all good in different ways.

Freeman Hunt said...

Won't the wood expand and contract no matter how you finish it?

We picked out regular, thick hardwood, but they told us that would be terrible to install on our slab foundation because they'd have to do a layer of plywood, then thebfloor, and that would raise the floor by an inch and a half. No thanks.

We didn't want laminate (Pergo and the like,) so we got engineered wood flooring glued down. We didn't want it to be a floating floor because of the noise.

Looks great.

I like the flooring at the link. Very attractive.

Ann Althouse said...

"Maybe you should, every couple of weeks, do something wild."

Getting a pizza would not be sufficiently "wild" to give that kind of wildness return.

When you go low carb and then you vary from it, you pay. You immediately gain weight, from just nothing, and then you have to work your way back to what you'd lost.

It's much more satisfying to stay where you are, keep eating the low-carb things you do like and don't even think about the things you don't eat anymore.

Getting into a game of "rewarding" yourself with "indulgences" that aren't even that significant isn't worth doing.

All that's worth doing is occasionally, when you're eating in a place with excellent bread, getting the bread or you're in a place that suddenly has white truffles and it's with gnocchi, getting the gnocchi... stuff like that.

dbp said...

We did prefinished bamboo floating floor in our 3rd floor addition. It went in really fast and is quiet due to the thick felt underlayment.

Freeman Hunt said...

I had a flooring installer helping me pick my flooring. I asked what he would want in his own house based on his experience repairing and replacing floors, and he recommended the engineered hardwood.

Bob_R said...

Anyway... the line between real and fake is problematized. I remember when it was seen as turning your floors into plastic if you put polyurethane finish on them. You were supposed to buff them with some sort of natural product... the right sort of wax. Even the wrong wax was wrong.

Furniture too. It wasn't enough that it was wood. You had to rub oil into the wood. A urethane finish was practically like using wood-pattered formica...


This is the kind of thinking that's getting pushed with food. It's romanticism filtered through a defective knowledge of science. Traditional linseed oil finishes are very low quality finishes that were used because they were cheap. They offer terrible protection for the wood. Wax isn't a finish at all. It can protect a finish by lowering surface tension, but it doesn't act as a vapor barrier. It doesn't offer the protection of shellac, varnish, or any of the newer synthetics.

In wood products there are real tradeoffs to be considered between price, durability, and aesthetics (real aesthetics of how the product interacts with all of your physical senses.) In food, the tradeoffs are between price, stability, health, and aesthetics (again real aesthetics of the sensory experience.) In both of these categories too many people are concerned with how these products interacts with their cultural, political, and class prejudices. I admit that some of this is hard to avoid - but people like Bittman and Pollan seem to revel in it.

Freeman Hunt said...

(It was not the same installer who was going to install the floor, so his advice was not based on his own convenience.)

Astro said...

Just a heads up... the pre-finished floor will always have tiny cracks between boards that will eventually attract, dust, dirt, etc, and over time will expand and contract. Just saying...

Actually, the pre-finished floors need to be polished occasionally with a product like 'Orange Glow'. It's a liquid that gets squirted onto the floor, then buffed with a terrycloth mop. The liquid fills in the cracks and seals them pretty well.

AprilApple said...

Ann -
A one level house is a nice idea. An idea that I have given up on (in my head) as it takes a lot of space/land to really get what you want. Plus, I want to be above it all while I sleep. In-floor radiant heat can cost big bucks (because you want to do it right) but -- Oh yes! Concrete floors with radiant heat. Perfection.

"Concrete for the kitchen counters too.

None of this granite bullshit."


Concrete counters are way cool, but they are difficult to maintain. They crack and stain. They are difficult to install properly too. It may be passé, but granite kitchen counters are the diamond blade bullet proof, the way mother nature intended.

Frank Lloyd Wright was a genius-- So ahead of his time.

There are 2 types of concrete: Concrete that has cracked and
concrete that will crack.

I'm Ok with a cracked floor - but not a cracked counter.

MadisonMan said...

We're going laminate for our kitchen counters. I think we'll spend the money on the sink, the fridge/washer, and the floor. Not sure if we're replacing the cabinets, or just 'freshening' them. Definitely ditching the cabinet hardware though.

Why do people use granite or marble? It costs the Moon, and then you're stuck with it.

Thought about marmoleum -- is that the new linoleum? -- for the kitchen floor. But I think we'll go wood. With luck, there is still nice maple underneath the hideous vinyl we're replacing.

Rusty said...


"I spend about $400-$500 a week on eating out."

And still not as good as anything Prix Fixe on almost any street in Nantes

Freeman Hunt said...

Granite has to be sealed. So does concrete. I think I'm going for quartz.

MadisonMan said...

Our modern house is all one level.

Hmmm.

So you're moving?

wyo sis said...

The ideal bathroom would be a concrete or tile finish on everything and a drain in the floor. To clean it just spray it down with a high power hose. I've longed for a bathroom like that since I had my first child.

AprilApple said...

Quartz counters can show the smudge. Drives me nutz.

Titus said...

my floors are bleached and so is my pucker.

Freeman Hunt said...

Quartz!

wyo sis said...

I know way more than I ever wanted to know about Titus.

AprilApple said...

wyo sis - Why stop at the bathroom?
Concrete floors, waterproof furniture and a whole house with a drain in the middle + a hose. Awesome idea.

Inga said...

Doesn't that hurt Titus?

Rusty said...

Ann Althouse said...
"In my dream home, that resides in my head, the first floor is 100% concrete-- Smooth stained messy concrete. - either gray or brown."

That's a modern, Frank Lloyd Wright type idea. With radiant heat. We have this modern house in our heads.

"The upper level is small w/ only the bedrooms and the floor is carpet. I hate carpet but I want something soft under my feet."

You can have all that in slippers. Our modern house is all one level. So all concrete.

My BIL-who is a civil engineer and I had this wild idea of taking precast concrete building parts. Like they use for industrial buildings. And using a concrete saw cut it in house size sections. Using it even for the roof.
If I had some vacant land somewhere with liberal zoning laws I'd give it a try.

Freeman Hunt said...

The ideal bathroom would be a concrete or tile finish on everything and a drain in the floor. To clean it just spray it down with a high power hose. I've longed for a bathroom like that since I had my first child.

Heh.

Our bathrooms do not have drains in the floors, but they do have tile halfway up the walls. I am a big fan of this.

A drain in the floor would rule.

Freeman Hunt said...

They already have little robots to clean floors; they should have tiny robots to clean counters. Then no one would have to worry about smudges. You would use the counter and then a tiny robot would come along and buff the whole thing.

onycophoran said...

Still using straight lines? The cool kids are all moving to natural cut. i.e., seams that follow the grain of the wood…

http://www.bolefloor.com/

Although it looks a little odd to me.

onycophoran said...

@freeman

To have a drain in your bathroom floor, you have to make sure it floods regularly. The water trap in home floor drains tend to dry out and let sewer gasses into the house.

Synova said...

We got the bamboo flooring from Costco because it wasn't a printed vinyl veneer like the other ones. It's considered "engineered" or something I think but it's a sort of pressed epoxied board of bamboo fiber all the way through. It *might* be able to be refinished, maybe. It looks really nice with a lot of variation and no repeating patterns.

Ann Althouse said...

"So you're moving?"

It's just an idea, but we're resisting the time sink of realizing it. Maybe the right house will appear on the market and we'll jump. At some point, I will want to retire and we might leave Madison.

We just speculate about what that other house would be, but when it comes down to doing anything, both of us are not into that as an activity to put time into.

Ann Althouse said...

"http://www.bolefloor.com/"

Interesting. Or demented.

Ann Althouse said...

"For years, Edison was captivated by concrete’s possibilities, and around the turn of the century he decided to act on the impulse in a big way. He formed the Edison Portland Cement Company and built a huge plant near Stewartsville, New Jersey. By 1907, Edison was the fifth-biggest cement producer in the world. His researchers patented more than four dozen improved ways of making quality cement in bulk. Edison cement built Yankee Stadium and the world’s first stretch of concrete highway, but his abiding dream was to fill the world with concrete houses. The plan was to make a mold of a complete house into which concrete could be poured in a continuous flow, forming not just walls and floors but every interior structure—baths, toilets, sinks, cabinets, doorjambs, even picture frames. Apart from a few odds and ends like doors and light switches, everything would be made of concrete. The walls could even be tinted, Edison suggested, to make painting forever unnecessary. A four-man team could build a new house every two days, he calculated. Edison expected his concrete houses to sell for $1,200, about a third of the cost of a conventional home of the same size."

Bryson, Bill (2010-10-05). At Home: A Short History of Private Life (pp. 223-224). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Ann Althouse said...

"It was a wild and ultimately unrealizable dream. The technical problems were overwhelming. The molds, which were of course the size of the house itself, were ridiculously cumbersome and complex, but the real problem was filling them smoothly. Concrete is a mixture of cement, water, and aggregates—that is, gravel and small stones—and it is in the nature of aggregates to want to sink. The challenge for Edison’s engineers was to formulate a mixture liquid enough to flow into every corner of every mold, but thick enough to hold its aggregates in suspension in defiance of gravity, while hardening to a smooth, uniform consistency of sufficient quality to persuade people that they were purchasing a home and not a bunker. It proved an impossible ambition. Even if all else went well, the engineers calculated, the house would weigh 450,000 pounds, causing all manner of ongoing structural strains."

Bryson, Bill (2010-10-05). At Home: A Short History of Private Life (p. 224). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

AprilApple said...

Hardwood flooring is rated by both hardness and stability.
A hardwood that is high on the "hardness" chart, may not be high on the "stable" chart.

For instance, Brazilian Cherry is one of the hardest woods, but American Beech is the most stable.

--According to -The National Wood Flooring Association.

Info on wood flooring types.

Lem said...

Pre-fab - teen titus

AprilApple said...

Excuse me. I'm reading my stability chart wrong. It looks as if Mesquite is the most stable (in terms of moisture/swelling) and American Beech is the least stable.



Steve Koch said...

Frank Lloyd Wright was a pioneer in building with concrete (lots of cool cantilevered designs) and using forms to build interesting patterns in concrete.

Didn't read the thread yet but, for a do it yourselfer, installing all wood floors is muuch more work and requires a special flooring nailer compared to installing engineered wood floors. The real wood floors are much thicker wrt actual wood (typically 3/4 inch) while the wood portion of the engineered floors is quite thin. You can refinish real wood floors many times while engineered floors might be refinished once or twice (I am dubious about that). The engineered wood flooring comes with a very hard coating that is supposed to protect them for many, many years (I would like to understand the highly accelerated lifetime testing they did before I believe that totally).

While I share your misgivings about engineered wood floors, most people are Philistines and don't really get the appeal of real wood all the way down. So unless you are planning on being in your house for more than a couple of decades, the engineered wood is probably the best investment cuz it is several times faster to install. If you choose the engineered wood, make sure the substrate is not vulnerable to moisture.

Michael Haz said...

Ann, I'm with you. Pergo and its bastard children are no substitute for a proper 3/4" thick nailed oak or maple floor

Pergo is not wood; it's Formica on a wood-like substrate. Avoid it.

Manufactured real wood flooring (or bamboo) is a much better than having raw wood installed, and then sanded and finished in place. The manufactured wood has a far, far harder and more durable finish because it has been baked on in an oven. Just be sure to lay down a moisture barrier under it before installation.

My home has mostly maple floors that were the traditional raw wood, finished in place. My floors now need an expensive and dusty buff and recoat to eliminate the scratches, shrinkage and wear marks that have accumulated. Manufactured wood floors never need this.

If I build again, my home will have manufactured wood floors in every room except bath and kitchen. Tile in the bath, cork in the kitchen.

ampersand said...

The Baha'i House of worship is made with Portland cement.

An old saying. In Europe a rich man builds his floors with wood, a poor man with stone. In America it's just the opposite.

Quaestor said...

Chip Ahoy wrote:
You made your own pizzas, how do they compare with frozen pizzas?

I do a pretty good job with frozen pizza, but I don't follow the instructions on the box. Most brands request 425 deg. with the pizza placed directly on the rack. My method: Use a pizza stone. Pre-heat it and the oven to the highest temperature it can generate, which is about 525 deg. Beforehand thaw the pizza a bit so that it begins to sag when you lift it by the edges, then place it on the very hot stone very carefully (it's easy to get a nasty burn sans care) then shut the oven quickly, the key here is to avoid cooling the oven during the "place pie in oven" procedure. Medium pies are done in 9 to 10 minutes for most people. I like my cheese well-toasted so I let the pie bake for 10 to 11 minutes.

I've never made my own made-from-scratch pie, which I interpret rather strictly, but I have used pizza kits (flour, sauce, topping in a box). I hate to admit it but Chef Boyardee makes the best I've tried. Their flour/yeast mix makes a good NYC-style crust; their sauce is excellent (other brands I've tried are way too sweet for pie, they're more like re-labeled pasta sauce). However they don't give you nearly enough cheese, and what you do get is inferior, so the Chef Boyardee kit is just the base. I add third-party cheeses, and use the kit-supplied cheese to sprinkle over the dog's kibble.

Rabel said...

I'm gonna be a little disappointed if and whenever the new Meadehouse happens it's more than eight feet wide.

Quaestor said...

rhhardin wrote:
Bamboo isn't wood. It's grass.

That's debatable. Bamboo is undoubtedly a grass, but whether the material is fundamentally distinct from the material made from plants which we rather arbitrarily label "trees" is not clear.

The weight-to-strength advantage of bamboo vs. "wood" is well established. There is nothing made from a "tree" which can compete with bamboo for fly rods, for example. The same weight and thickness of any "wood" you can name would snap in twain from the least flexural deformation exerted by a gamable trout.

Bamboo parquet can be extraordinary beautiful, and is often superior to parquets made from more traditional wood because of it stability. To achieve similar stability most "wood" parquet is really plywood, which can separate with age.

The main limitation of bamboo versus wood is the knuckles, but in short lengths there's nothing better. I've got an Asus notebook which that I've had for years and which I treasure. It's shell is bamboo rather than plastic. I also have several thumb drives shelled in bamboo. I love 'em.

Steve Koch said...

They put aluminum oxide in the finish of engineered hardwood floors to get that hard finish. You can buy sealers at the hardware store that have aluminum oxide added to them that can be used on the all wood floors but I don't how well that works.

Rusty said...

Steve Koch said...
Frank Lloyd Wright was a pioneer in building with concrete

Steve. I would credit the Romans.

Rusty said...

The main limitation of bamboo versus wood is the knuckles,


Called 'nodes'

Steve Koch said...

Rusty said:
"Steve. I would credit the Romans."

Yeah, I should have said that he was an innovative architect in his use of concrete. Of course the Romans deserve credit not just for building with concrete but actually improving the formula of concrete to make it much harder and longer lasting (I saw that in a program just the other night).

Synova said...

Pizza! I think that the trick to making your own is to knead the dough until you get to the window-pane level of elasticity and then let it sit at least over night. Make the pizzas on parchment paper so they can go (with the paper) on a pizza stone without having to mess with cornmeal. Use only a bit more than a shine of sauce and fewer toppings than you'd think.

My problem is that I don't plan ahead well so making the dough a day ahead of time just doesn't happen.

Synova said...

I made pancakes this morning. (My husband and I are also doing low-carb but I still have kids at home.)

You know what I don't understand is pancake mix. So you don't have to measure baking powder, OMG. I always halve the baking powder anyway because I like them less cake-like.

Michael Haz said...

@Synova - Pancakes? Try making them with almond flour rather than wheat flour. Low carb and delicious! Plenty of recipes on the internet; almond flour available in most grocery stores.

Synova said...

I'll do that, Michael. Thanks.

I wonder how almond flour would work in a crepe recipe I've got that just takes several eggs, flour, milk and honey... might have to do something else about the honey. (I do have some super dark pecan (I think) honey that might be more bang for the buck, so I could just use less.) Could do it with berries and whipped cream with splenda.

Mike said...

Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, WI has a sustainable living project house on their horticulture school property. You can walk through and compare bamboo and cork floors and some other recycled/upcycled features. Every year the students try to reuse things not normally used to furnish houses. This can result in some interesting creations.

Mike said...

I love making homemade pizza. Whip out a batch of dough in the morning and let it do the second rise and sit refrigerated until time to prepare dinner. Almost as good as day-ahead and doesn't require so much forethought. I make my own sauce too because I like to use fresh herbs from the garden to supplement dried oregano. Agree with Synova that a thin coat of sauce is enough on a well balanced pizza pie. Years of food service work had already taught me a light hand on toppings works best too.

Synova said...

I found several (identical) cauliflower pizza crust recipes, too, to go with the pancake one.

rhhardin said...

When you go low carb and then you vary from it, you pay. You immediately gain weight, from just nothing, and then you have to work your way back to what you'd lost.

The calorie difference can't matter that much, so it's probably just things slowing down in your gut, which isn't really a weight gain, healthwise.

chuckR said...

re: concrete houses

You could do a tilt-up wall system. Typically looks like an old stone ender - both gable ends with the front and back walls built normally. Steps are: grade a flat area the size of the walls on each end of the house. Cover with sand. Position big stones artistically on top of the sand. Put batter boards around the edges. Put in plenty of rebar and a couple of good sized hooks on what will be the top of the wall. Pour concrete like for a floor over the whole mess. Let it cure. Bring in a crane and tilt the walls upright - you did remember the rebar, right? Brace it and tie together with the front and back walls. Article in Fine Homebuilding many years ago- sounds like backbreaking labor but not real high tech.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Man, all this food talk.

Does no one get that making your own meals is actually fun?

I make pizza all the time. I make lasagna a few times a year (but the "hard way," as in "day before, make bolognese sauce, budgeting six hours for it; next day, make and roll out pasta and assemble"). Tonight I'm almost done with a Kashmiri lamb curry, so have to sign off now :-)

Synova said...

"Does no one get that making your own meals is actually fun?"

Cooking is great fun (though I'm sure just as with all activities people don't enjoy it equally) but cleaning up sucks. I don't know anyone who enjoys cleaning up.

Unfortunately... when you cook there ends up being cleaning up.

Mark said...

If I were putting floors in and not particularly worried about cost I'd go with tile or stone. Lasts forever, easy to clean, looks great.

Can be cool on bare feet, but that's a plus in warm weather, right? And otherwise, that's what rugs are for (and rugs give you another dimension of aesthetic augmentation.)

Mark said...

Of course, during the Edo period, powerful Nipponese households built their houses with wood floors designed to squeak when trod upon.

Might not be a bad thing to keep in mind in the current political climate.

Synova said...

Stone floors would probably be great for dogs. My poor old golden slides around so bad on the tile and new bamboo floors that he sometimes gets stuck or can't stand up.

Joe Schmoe said...

Concrete has terrible thermal performance properties. In summer, it soaks up all that sunlight so that it's basically a brick oven by suppertime. Then it continues to radiate that absorbed heat all night, so if you were hoping for some cooling off after sundown, well, it ain't happenin'. And in winter you get the reverse; it will suck the heat out of your house.

Pre-fab as it now relates to houses is based on applying the tighter manufacturing tolerances that can be achieved on a factory floor versus building on site.

Edison's plans for concrete houses relied on the traditional method of negative forms made to hold the concrete as it cured. It looks like the future of concrete-based homes will more likely be from form-free, additive 3D printing.

ken in sc said...

At Clark Air Base, in the Philippines, the officers club had a chef who made crackers from scratch. They were delicious but kind of hard.

Dante said...

As did Bagoh, I put in my own hardwood floors, about 750 square feet. I used Bolivian Cherry, which is very high on the hardness scale (as I recall, about 3 or 4 times harder than oak, so it lasts forever with no dents), and it darkens all by itself to a beautiful deep red.

However, that is not a real hardwood floor. The floor is on top of plywood. That's the real floor.

I think you may have to be careful with the pre-finished flooring. Even though the hardwood I put in was milled very tightly, there were occasional gaps that had to be filed with wood putty. I don't know how one could do that with the pre-finished flooring. It's done, but I think you lose a small amount of quality.

Regarding home cooked meals, you control what goes in them. Look at almost all processed foods for fats, sugars, etc. When you make your own food, you know what goes into it.

And finally, there is something really wonderful about making a dinner, and sitting down with people you care about and eating it. Probably it isn't as good as a McDonalds' hamburger, but it sure tastes better.