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Friday, November 19, 2010

Time goes ga-ga for Portland food

They loved it, loved it, loved it. Especially our "locavorism."

Funny thing, though...

Comments (14)

It's worse than that. 1 in 5 children in Portland live below the poverty line. About 15% of *all* Portland residents live below the poverty line.


For an intriguing figure, look at the chart for "Year house/condo built by year for residents below and above poverty levels in percentages".

I don't take stories like the one in Time any more seriously than I do a candy bar. These kind of fluffy pieces are written by a small group of people for a small group of people, and that group grows smaller all the time.

Strangely, I see none of this even near the top of the current mayor and city council's list of "priorities"--which may be the saddest and strangest part of the entire story.

It may well pay to investigate how the survey was taken. My understanding it was done by walking through a neighborhood park on a Summer afternoon and asking people if they wanted a granola bar. Each taker was another "hungry" person. Trust not our government.

the guy who wrote that article has his own site and has been on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservation before. Ozersky.tv is the site. It's actually pretty good.

I wouldn't take the annual federal survey too seriously. Certain terms used in teh survey are subjective and open to confusion or different interpretations. And it doesn't tell you anything about why a particular household might have a cash problem. If you don't know the reasons, it's difficult to formulate a rational response.

A decade ago the Oregon Progress Board was doing it's own annual hunger survey, and the results were much different, namely that the prolem was less severe. Local "anti-hunger advocates" were so mad that eventually they pressured the OPB into dropping the survey. That tells you most of what you need to know about the politics of hunger.

John Charles

I guess it's like global warming.

Got any thoughts on the Holocaust?

And everyone in Portland - and I mean everyone - rides their bike even when it's pouring rain, rides MAX or light rail (but God, never the bus!), we all have Apple notebook computers (and iPads) and we take them EVERYWHERE as there is "free" Wi-Fi everywhere. We enjoy Starbucks (so much for local flavor) on a daily basis, and we're all creative class folks and can work whenever we want - we don't believe in schedules either.

We all live in condos close to downtown so we can walk to work (or bike, or take the streetcar, or light rail) and we are all fit, healthy, and don't eat processed foods. We buy everything from farmers markets or New Seasons (a few of us admittedly go to Whole Foods.) Our homes are decorated with the latest fashions from IKEA. If we really need "normal" stuff, we have Freddy's for that, but how dare you insult us by thinking about WalMart.


I truly wish some of the out-of-towners who think Portland is some sort of utopia actually see the city for what it is. Kind of like how great and wonderful Los Angeles is, if all you see is Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and Disneyland. There's a lot of city inbetween that isn't so glamourous.

Good grief. What Jack said. And for those "doubting" the statistics on poverty and hunger, any thoughts on the Oregon Food Bank's figures?

I started reading this but had to quit when the writer mentioned our 1000ft pine trees. First, he was probably talking about Douglas Firs, and second, I'd like someone to tell me where 1000ft trees are, anywhere.

I swear whenever I hear some out-of-town reviewer raving about Portland being the modern day Promised Land for one magical reason or another it's obvious they've never lived here and I have to wonder if the Potemkin village they're referring to was the result of a) some City Hall sponsored 'guided' tour ala the Red Cross in Theriesenstadt, b) they're trying to sell local property holdings, c) they were tripping on drugs the whole time.

I'm surprised that some people on this thread who are smart enough to know when they're being scammed by Portland planners apparently think that just because USDA or the Oregon Food Bank says something we should all believe it.

There's a lot of mythology about what "food insecurity" means. USDA itself sponsored a study by Mathematica Policy Research (a respected contractor) in 1999 to examine "nutrient availability" in households where food stamps were being used. They found that the results were counterintuitive: “Food insecure households tend, other things equal, to have higher levels of nutrient availability than households that are food secure.”

A big part of the reason was the Food Stamp program (now known as SNAP). The study found a “strong positive association between the level of food stamp benefits and nutrient availability for the nutrients analyzed.”

Well, Oregon always has a very high participation rate for the SNAP program, usually in the top 5 among states; and those participating families probably have relatively high levels of nutrient consumption -- which means the program is pretty much working as intended, regardless of whether some federal survey calls these same families "food-insecure."

Another surprising bit of research: "anti-hunger" advocates have long sought universal free school breakfasts at all public schools as sort of a Holy Grail, because the "universal" part would erase any stigma associated with means-tested programs. Advocates have asserted that a universal FB program would make kids better students, reduce behavior problems, improve test scores, etc.

Fine, it sounds great and Congress authorized a national 3-year pilot program to see if it works. USDA published the outside evaluation in 2004, and here's what they concluded: Universal-free breakfast participation had "no significant effect on a broad array of measures, including attendance, tardiness, academic achievement, cognitive functioning, behavior, health status, food security and BMI. The study found a small but significant and NEGATIVE effect on teacher-rated behavioral opposition among long-term participants in UF breakfast."

The advocates didn't see that one coming.

But hey, no worries, they've pretty much ignored the study ever since and continue calling for universal free breakfast programs because it sounds warm and fuzzy.

Finally, one of the few empirical measures that might suggest a hunger problem is low-birthweight babies. If large segments of the population were chronically under-nurished, it would probably show up as low-birthweight babies.

But if you check the data you'll see that for over 15 years Oregon has been in the top 5 among states for having the FEWEST number of "very low" birthweight babies --50% below the national average. So it's pretty clear that pregnant women are eating well in Oregon, regardless of any federal survey.

John Charles

You and Jim Karlock ought to go get a room somewhere.

I'm supposed to take the Cascade Policy Institute more seriously than a count of actual food boxes at the Oregon Food Bank?

Having volunteered at the OFB quite a lot, I can only laugh long and loud at John. John, may you never fall on hard times and need a helping hand. Someone may tell you that you're a myth, and send you away.

I don't doubt that they give away a lot of food boxes at the OFB. That's their mission. But I noticed you didn't refute a single thing I said in either of my posts.

But I noticed you didn't refute a single thing I said in either of my posts.

Because you're not here to "discuss" anything, John--you're here because ultimately, you fear the world because you can't control it enough.

And I've always thought the Cascade Policy Institute resembled a troupe of humorless clowns who hate the circus because it doesn't hire humorless clowns--and believe that humorless clowns should own the circus.

So, a restaurant without a stove expresses the spirit of Portland. Hmmm. I can see that--it's a place that puts on a big show but lacks the necessary tools to pull it off long-term. (No, I haven't been to, nor am I dissing, the alluded-to restaurant, I'm just thinking through the metaphor the author devised.)

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