Please don’t feed the Millennials

by Beth Graham

My kids are hungry. But they can’t afford to eat. This was happening long before the current economic crisis. My daughter, a long-time vegan, is a budding microbiologist who desperately wants to eat healthy but…college bills. She makes her own nut milks and cosmetics because she wants to be clean and sustainable. But have you seen the price of clean ingredients? (Just switch out the french fries for broccoli at any restaurant and you’ll see the upcharge.)  My son, an Olympic weight lifter, needs to consume a lot of calories to fuel his sport. But he chose to live in New York City so buying food on his budget is more challenging than paying his rent (and you can only eat those massive Chipotle bowls so many days a week). Throw in the busy-ness of their career-upstart lives and it’s almost impossible for them to eat in this modern world. As a resourceful mom, I’ve spent countless hours researching meal delivery services and so-called online healthy markets but they’re simply not affordable for Millennials. 

Many in this generation are eschewing our processed, fast food culture but we’re not giving them many (affordable) alternatives. Both of my kids love to cook but planning and prepping ahead just didn’t make their gene pool (just ask the slowcooker I gave my daughter for Christmas last year – that is still in the box). I researched all the popular meal delivery services, like vegan favorite Purple Carrot (which I once gave my daughter as a gift and got addicted to myself). In my quest to eat healthier, I’m actually trying it again – I can throw in chicken slices or shrimp for my meat eater husband. But at roughly $12 a serving, it’s not doable on a mommy-funds-my-college-lifestyle budget.

And then there’s my growing boy who at 25 eats like 5 teenagers. So I researched meals for athletes and sure, they’re out there, just not in the quantity and price range he needs. I looked at the traditional companies like Blue Apron and Home Chef but he’d need two servings per meal just for himself. Again, not feasible. All I wanted were affordable, easy-to-prepare meals for my kids.

If I lived closer to them, I’d gladly prepare their meals. I mean, I did this for my ailing dog for three years. Solutions lie in a deeper understanding of the problem (and its implications on our future health as a society) but also in a return to simplicity – habits like shopping at farmer’s markets and good old-fashioned food prep. But those require a paradigm shift. Food deserts are a serious problem but I would submit there’s another type of food desert happening in this generation. They want to eat healthy but those with non-traditional diets just can’t afford to. 

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