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  #46   ^
Old Wed, Mar-13-24, 09:10
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Calianna Calianna is online now
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I honestly don't think most Americans who eat Big Mac's (or any other fast food) on any kind of regular basis give a rip about what's in them. They're hungry, they want food that tastes good (or at least tastes good to them - not to people who are used to eating more wholesome food), and they want it quickly so they can get on with whatever is more important in their life.

The nutrition data and ingredients are really only posted to appease the ones who are concerned about nutritional values and what's actually in the food they eat, and based on the sheer volume of sales in the fast food industry, most people don't really care.



Slightly off topic, but it illustrates what I'm talking about -

I lurk on a few Aldi Aisle of Shame FB pages. They don't just discuss the Aisle of Shame items (the random household/decorative/garden/holiday items that Aldi has in the middle aisles), they also post a lot about the food. There are some who will post photos of what they bought with a caption along the lines of "guess how much I spent for all this?"

There will always be a few who will criticize what that person bought - "I see a lot of snacks, where's the meat?", or "You could have saved a lot of money by buying the ingredients to make that from scratch instead of buying the ready-made version", and "That contains GMO ingredients", etc.

But most posters on those pages just see a lot of food for the amount of money the poster spent. They will argue back and forth about "don't criticize them for just trying to feed their family without going into debt", "don't expect them to have time to cook from scratch after working all day". There are only a few taking it upon themselves to point out that what they're serving their family is basically junk food. The few who point that out may argue that point over and over - but they don't really get anywhere with it - mainly because the ones who are feeding their family UPFs really are just trying to feed their families the best they can afford/the way they ate as kids/or just fit a home made meal (more accurately a home-heated meal) into their day. They consider it cooking a meal if they dirtied up a couple of cooking pots by heating a bag of pre-fab frozen meatballs in a jar of highly sweetened tomato sauce, and boiling some pasta to go with it.

When we look around us in the grocery store, we see very few people who are loading their carts with whole, minimally processed foods. We see mostly UPFs.

Yes, it really is very discouraging to know this is how they're eating, but it is the reality - they don't know the difference, don't have an interest in the difference, or don't have enough hours left in the day to do differently/better.
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  #47   ^
Old Thu, Mar-14-24, 07:19
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WereBear WereBear is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calianna
They consider it cooking a meal if they dirtied up a couple of cooking pots by heating a bag of pre-fab frozen meatballs in a jar of highly sweetened tomato sauce, and boiling some pasta to go with it.


I know, and all I can think is, "At least there's meat and fruit in it."
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  #48   ^
Old Thu, Mar-14-24, 10:21
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Calianna Calianna is online now
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Originally Posted by WereBear
I know, and all I can think is, "At least there's meat and fruit in it."


Exactly.

Part of the problem is the push for preparing a perfectly clean and nutritious meal 3x/day, when the reality is that the best you can do under the circumstances is... the best you can do.

There was an article that showed up on Firefox Pocket a couple weeks ago. Most of the random collection of articles that show up on there are from at least a few weeks earlier - this one was from July '19.

Anyhow, it points out some extremes at both ends of the cooking/not cooking, healthy food/poor food spectrum, and of course there's the constant refrain of healthywholegrains, but it does make some interesting points - many of which I observed on a daily basis when I worked at the grocery store. It also goes into a bunch of reasons that people can't cook as well as the reasons they don't cook - as well as all the ways that they are doing what they consider to be cooking, but still using nothing but highly processed foods.



Quote:
Why ‘Just Cook More’ Isn't the Universal Solution to Healthy Eating

Opinion: Not everybody has the time or means to cook healthy meals from scratch, so let’s not pretend it’s that simple.

Healthy eating is an endlessly complex topic that often gets distilled into sound bites—some short directive that assigns a simple solution to a myriad of problems. For example: Just cook more. These days, home cooking is presented as the holy grail of healthy eating, and the way to meet every dietary ideal we're supposed to be working toward—whether it's what we should be eating less of (salt, sugar, calories, processed foods) or what we should be eating more of (vegetables, fiber, whole foods, vitamins and minerals).

Food reformers and celebrity chefs are loudly spreading this as gospel, and it’s rampant in public health messaging and food media. Heck, I’ve written my fair share of very easy weeknight recipes in an effort to encourage apathetic cooks, and I’m guilty of implying that time-saving kitchen appliances like slow-cookers are simple fixes for cooking on a tight schedule.

But really it’s not that simple. A lot is implied and expected in this call for more home cooking. The message is: Cook more from scratch, with mostly unprocessed foods like produce, meat, dairy, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Boxed mac and cheese and white-bread-and-bologna sandwiches don’t cut it. And for many people, this is asking a lot.

To be clear, nutritious home cooking isn’t a bad thing—experts generally agree that eating mostly unprocessed food can lead to better health outcomes, and it’s easier to control what you’re eating if you cook at home. But presenting it as an easy solution or even as a choice that everyone can make isn’t helpful. It might actually be harmful.

The message to cook more from scratch comes from a place of socio-economic privilege. “People who make these kinds of recommendations often underestimate and overlook the privilege they have,” Melissa Carmona, M.S., a clinical mental health counselor who works primarily with immigrant communities, tells SELF. “When my clients see doctors or other health-care professionals, they’re often hit with, ‘You should cook more, eat better, change your lifestyle in order to improve your health.’ I heard the same thing when I moved to the U.S. from Colombia as a teenager.” But she says the reality of actually doing it wasn’t easy. She couldn’t necessarily afford the foods that were being recommended, and she also found that many of the cultural foods she was used to eating weren’t included in the Americanized picture of healthy eating and home cooking.

I've been writing about food for seven years and I feel comfortable saying that extolling the virtues of healthy home cooking is a staple in the repertoire of a great many Instagram influencers who are white and if the rest of their feed is any indication relatively well off. This creates an unrealistic and culturally narrow expectation for what acceptable healthy home cooking looks like. It ultimately makes home cooking a status symbol, Tamara Melton, M.S., R.D. a registered dietitian and cofounder of Diversify Dietetics, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the dietetics profession, tells SELF.

“People are already confused about what healthy eating is, and now a lot of people think it’s about re-creating all of the beautiful, trendy food they see on Instagram.” A lot of this food is very whitewashed, Melton says. It’s also expensive and often made by food professionals and influencers who are paid to cook and photograph it.

Of course not everyone feels pressure to eat the way they see people doing it on Instagram. But even a less Instagrammable home-cooked meal isn’t as attainable as mass media makes it out to be.

Cooking from scratch also isn’t in fact budget-friendly for everyone or more affordable than how they're already eating. One of the selling points of healthy home cooking is based on a tremendous paradox—the idea that cooking at home is the budget-friendly choice. This is true for someone who might start cooking as an alternative to eating out, but not for someone who already does eat most of their meals at home. And, a 2016 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the lowest-income households are spending a larger percentage of their food budget—about two-thirds—on food prepared at home (which includes unprepared foods bought at the grocery store) than the highest-income households—which spend only about half.

But what these lower-income households are cooking may not actually live up to the ideal of a wholesome meal cooked from scratch. In the book Pressure Cooker: Why Home Cooking Won't Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do About It, authors Sarah Bowen, Ph.D., Joslyn Brenton, Ph.D., and Sinikka Elliott, Ph.D., draw on interviews and long-term observational study of several mothers, most of whom are poor or working-class, in order to explain the nuanced challenges of and barriers to healthy home cooking.

“There’s this widespread idea that if you just try a little bit harder or get a little bit more organized, you can be healthy and cook your kids a good meal,” Brenton tells SELF. But, her research proves this wrong. “It doesn’t matter if you know the ‘right’ way to eat or cook—what matters is having the money to do it.” Brenton and her coauthors describe a huge divide “between families...who can afford fresh, seasonal, nutritious fare, and families...who search for the cheapest deals—10 for $10—to keep everyone fed on the smallest possible budget.”

It’s also pretty much impossible to prioritize healthy food and cooking when you’re worried about having enough food. According to a 2016 report from the USDA, one in eight Americans is food insecure, meaning they don’t have access to, “enough food for an active, healthy life.” The USDA has tried to quantify food insecurity by mapping “food deserts,” low-income areas where at least a third of residents live more than a mile from a grocery store. But many experts see this as another oversimplification of a very complicated problem. “Just having a grocery store near you doesn’t mean that you have a way to get there, that you’re going to be able to afford the food there, or that you’ll even want to eat it,” Kathryn De Master, Ph.D., assistant professor of agriculture, society, and environment at the University of California, Berkeley, tells SELF.

Federal food assistance programs like SNAP (food stamps) are designed to help low-income individuals buy food they couldn’t otherwise afford, but these benefits can only go so far. Processed foods are generally cheaper than unprocessed or minimally processed foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and meats. Even with SNAP benefits, cooking with mostly unprocessed foods “requires a huge amount of planning and maneuvering,” De Master says, and in some regions where fresh foods are more expensive, it often isn’t possible at all.

Cooking healthy food also takes time, a luxury that many don’t have. A basic sheet pan dinner of chicken and potatoes will take about an hour from start to finish—but many people, especially shift workers or working parents, likely don’t have this much time to wait. Brenton and her coauthors find that time is an issue for many. “Even middle-class mothers who do have the money to cook healthy meals don’t necessarily have the time,” she says.

It’s true that people spend less time cooking than they used to. A 2013 study in Nutrition Journal found that on average women spent nearly two hours a day in the kitchen in 1965, while a 2018 study in the same journal reports that by 2016 that number had dropped to about an hour a day. But it’s not fair to assume that this is always a choice. “A lot of it has to do with work schedules,” Brenton says. And even time-saving hacks don’t work for everyone. “When you hear advice about how to eat healthy with a busy schedule, you hear things about meal prepping on the weekends” she says. “But what if you work on weekends?” What if you’re taking care of small children and sick parents? What if you’d rather spend what little free time you have doing something other than cook? Assuming that everyone can make time to cook if they choose to just isn’t fair.

There’s no easy solution to these problems, but we need to stop talking about healthy eating like it’s an individual responsibility. “The way we talk about home cooking, we convince people that it’s their responsibility to cook healthy meals for themselves and their families,” Brenton says. “This detracts from the real causes of poor health, like massive economic inequality, racism, long work hours, and stress.” These problems won’t soon be solved, but there are ways to make healthy food more accessible in the meantime. Brenton and her coauthors suggest large-scale solutions such as government subsidies for healthier school lunches, plus paid maternity and paternity leave, paid sick leave, and affordable child care, all of which would give people more time to prioritize food.

On the community level, things like cooking healthy food in bulk in commercial kitchens and selling it on a sliding scale can help. Melton emphasizes how important it is that community-based solutions actually take each community’s unique needs into account. “It’s important to encourage people to eat in a way that they’re comfortable with, a way that’s culturally relevant to them, with food that they can access,” Melton says. “In low-income communities, teaching cooking skills based on the ingredients and equipment available is very important,” Melton says. “Pay attention to what’s at the local grocery stores and food banks, and teach people to cook with these things.”

Ultimately experts agree that just encouraging everyone to cook healthy food in order to be healthier isn’t very helpful. Instead of promoting a lofty ideal of home cooking, we need to first and foremost find ways to make healthy eating accessible to more people.


Putting aside the stuff about Instagram Influencers and the food they present as the ideal way to eat, there's a lot in there to consider - everything from historical family food culture, responsibilities that take up so much of their time that cooking is at best an afterthought, and of course the availability of a healthy selection of foods, as well as the finances to buy those foods, and adequate facilities to prepare them.

I experienced some of those problems when I was working in the store. A lot of other things fell by the wayside during those years, simply because work took such a heavy toll (time and energy), that I had to prioritize food prep on my day(s) off - mainly because I was already aware that I personally would feel even worse and have even less energy if I relied on the pre-fab foods available. I can't even imagine trying to work that kind of job when my kids were young AND still cooking decent meals. As it was, I had a very small selection of meals I prepped on my days off, which took most of the day (in between switching loads of laundry). DH and I ate those meals for dinner all week, until I had day(s) off again and I could prep meals for the next several days of work.

I recall an acquaintance from back in the 70's who had a small child and worked full time. She said she felt like she was constantly on a "treadmill" - that's just how busy her life was. I'm sure that included cooking meals, because there wasn't all that much fast food around where we lived at that time, although we had decent grocery stores. But the point is that she was young, energetic - and it was still a struggle for her. I'm pretty sure she was using jarred sauces and whatever pre-fab meat containing foods were available that required the least amount of prep too, probably some frozen meals too. The treadmill of working, raising a small child, cleaning - it was just too much to do otherwise.
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  #49   ^
Old Fri, Mar-15-24, 15:39
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Bob-a-rama Bob-a-rama is offline
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I don't eat 'foods' with corn syrup at all. I eat very minimal amounts of cane sugar, as in one square of 86% chocolate.

I drink only water, tea, coffee, cream (in the coffee), and three 4oz glasses of wine per week. The water is unprocessed, it comes from my well. All the rest but the wine is organic, but they are all processed.

I think when we start using hard and fast nebulous terms that cannot be defined with precision, we are on shaky ground.

So I tend to use common sense instead of what some self-appointed expert in a book or column tells me.

So far — so good. 77 years on the planet, and no prescription medicines.

Use your brain, refer to more than one 'other', and don't let any one of them tell you what is best for you. At least that's how I think (and again, I'm no expert).

Bob
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  #50   ^
Old Sat, Mar-16-24, 02:13
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WereBear WereBear is offline
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In Victorian times, the poor would stack food near bonfires or pay for a shop to cook their casserole. But a lot of people share kitchens and now we have five people trying to cook for themselves? Let's face it, most people don't have the TIME. And why is that?

It's our recent work structure -- all the game playing with corporations deciding the best way to look good to Wall Street is shed some workers every quarter. Long commutes and high prices for anything with a kitchen because investment trusts have bought up all the housing. Plus, children. The younger they are the more they add inefficency, to anything a person tries to do.

My energy still goes up and down unpredictably and I get shaky if I push it. So planning isn't even in the planning. But I can grab a rotisserie chicken and a bag of coleslaw shreds. I get Primal Kitchen salad dressings because they make it with avocado oil. There is nothing wrong with any of that even though some professional confuser will claim it's "processed."

In the book, Ultra-Processed People, the author describes his preschool child eating sugary cereal. With his new focus it's like he saw breakfast for the first time. She was driven to another bowl, and it wasn't even like she truly enjoyed the first one.

It took years of dedicated eating for me to reach this point: where McD's tastes like dirt and commercial mayo tastes harsh from seed oil. And I've been putting in years learning quick and easy dishes.

To me, the best solution is a big cafeteria where all the food is prepared from scratch. It's the cheap shortcuts that kill us, we have to devote effort to it rather than expecting workers to dumpster dive on their own time.

Heck, the Automat did it. No reason we can't!
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  #51   ^
Old Mon, Mar-18-24, 18:50
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Bob-a-rama Bob-a-rama is offline
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I was brought up on cereal. I forgive my parents, they didn't know any better. But, I don't forgive corporate greed.

My mother was a stay-at-home-mom, a housewife. Most women were back then.

There was no need for two incomes to make ends meet, and my mom made us some terrific meals. Fresh fish caught by my dad, the best lasagna in the world, pork chops, and all the home cooked delights the typical 1940 - 1960s mother would make.

But corporate greed moved in, and little by little, and advertisers that convinced the housewives that the boxed food tasted better than the home-made food encroached more and more into our cupboards.

I remember the ads. Husband at the dinner table raving about the food, telling her whatever he was eating tasted so much better than ever. She would break the fourth wall and show us her little secret, the frankenfood box.

TV, the salesman in your living room was new back then, so you can't blame the people who fell for those ads, hook, line, and sinker. But we should know better by now.
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Old Tue, Mar-19-24, 20:06
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Calianna Calianna is online now
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There as also a certain amount of convenience involved in the rise of convenience foods.

Take for instance cake mixes - baking a cake from scratch requires that you have all the ingredients on hand:
cake flour (regular flour has too much gluten in it and will result in a tough cake - and don't even think about using bread flour unless you want your cake to have the texture of a brick)
sugar/brown sugar
baking powder (which is a completely different ingredient from baking soda)
salt
flavorings and additional ingredients (whatever that particular cake requires: vanilla extract, lemon extract, almond extract, cocoa powder, coconut, spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, carrot for carrot cake, strawberries for strawberry cake, lemon zest or dried lemon peel for lemon cake, etc)
Some cake recipes also call for cornstarch
And of course whatever eggs, milk/water, and oil/shortening/butter you'd need for that particular recipe.

You need to have all the measuring cups and measuring spoons to make sure you're measuring ingredients accurately. You also need to understand HOW to measure those ingredients accurately: flour needs to be sifted, gently spooned into the measuring cup, and then leveled off with the flat edge of a knife. While you're doing all that for each cup full (or partial cupful) of flour, don't lose count of how many cups you've already measured.

When measuring sugar, keep in mind that if the recipe calls for brown sugar, it needs to be packed tightly into the measuring cup.

Try not to get distracted and accidentally put in 1 Tablespoon of salt, instead of the 1 tsp of salt the recipe calls for. (three times the amount of salt does not make for a tasty cake)

Also make sure you don't accidentally skip over any ingredients - it'll be a mighty flat, dense cake if you get distracted and forget the baking powder.

Do ANY of that wrong, and your cake could turn out to be inedible.

After you have all the dry ingredients measured into a bowl, stir them all together to distribute the ingredients evenly.

Now you're finally ready to add the eggs, milk/water, and oil/butter/shortening.



On the other hand, if you're using a cake mix, all you need to do is to open the box and dump the contents into the mixing bowl - and there you are ready to add the eggs, milk/water and maybe some oil or butter - but the shortening is probably already in the mix, so you can probably skip that step too.

The cake made from a mix always comes out the same - no need to measure everything just-so, no chance of skipping over an ingredient, no chance of accidentally putting in the wrong ingredient (baking soda instead of baking powder), or accidentally mis-reading the recipe amount (and putting in 3 times as much salt as the recipe calls for.)

It's more convenient and reliably comes out the same every time you make it.

(Clean-up is also easier with a mix - for the cake from scratch, you need to put all those ingredients away, and clean up any spills on the kitchen counter - especially if you used cocoa powder, because that stuff is so powdery that it just flies everywhere and gets on everything. For the cake mix, you simply dumped the already mixed dry ingredients directly into the mixing bowl - significantly less chance of needing to clean up any spills on the kitchen counter)


But cake mix is just one example - cooking anything from scratch (sauces, casseroles, meatballs, soup just a few examples) almost always takes far longer and requires that you have a bunch of different ingredients on hand, whereas with convenience foods, you're almost done "cooking" as soon as you open that box, bag, or can.


I'm not saying convenience foods are a good thing, only trying to point out that it's not just corporate greed involved in the proliferation of convenience foods - housewives, single men, college students - they all took to convenience foods to save time and effort, and to get consistent results, even if the results were not nearly as good as "what mom used to make".
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  #53   ^
Old Wed, Mar-20-24, 04:43
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WereBear WereBear is offline
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What nostaliga your instructions created, Calianna And you have put your finger on the problem with those mass market cakes: they are not made with cake flour. Tasteless and tough so they are covered with sugar and seed oils. No problem passing those up.

Not if we know what cake is supposed to taste like.

I was stuck in the house, pre-driving age, and learned to bake. I could loosen a person's knees with one of my all butter bundt cakes, handbeaten for 20 minutes, with boiled frosting. But it was a mess in the kitchen and it all took hours. It was the PACE of creation and intake that was balanced. When I spent all afternoon making it, it was for sharing and savoring. Not inhaled in the car, on the way to our next obligation.

That's what cake used to be. Effort, joy, celebration, and you got 3-4 slices of cake a year? At least, that’s what I remember as a child. A meal, then birthday cake and presents. PACE. I worked in an office where we had a cake and a little visiting for everyone whose birthday was that month. And no one makes you eat it. That was doable, instead of a snack room always stocked.

From this experience, I remember cake as something that took investment, of something. And the result was delightful because it was top notch. Rare. And if you ate it every day, I was told, I wouldn't appreciate it.

I see the wisdom in that. It's my current philosophy, making my treats rare and precious. I have to find the few quality outlets available and plan to get it with time to savor it and be sure to buffer it with a full meal, first. Everyday treats ARE my meals, which are tasty and satisfying.

And, traditionally, I can still enjoy myself. If I choose the proper PACE. And, quality. Perhaps that is where the UPF and the UPF4 divide, lies. Perhaps that's the edge with homemade desserts, which do lack the disastrous Frankenfood elements, and merely the processed foods our species has spent centuries with; grain flours and processed starchy and sweet plants.

Maybe we have better tolerance for somewhat bad foods we've somewhat adapted to. As I understand the archeological record, there was a noted nosedive in stature and sturdiness when we got into the "bread and beer" of civilization.

Just because they are traditional doesn't make them processed foods. As well, we know hunter/gatherer people brewed alcohol. But not every day!
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Old Wed, Mar-20-24, 08:53
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Calianna Calianna is online now
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I'm sure not everyone only had cake a few times a year. In my father's family, there were 7 children, so 7 children's birthdays, and 2 adult birthdays. That number could certainly be increased if you visited cousins or aunts and uncles on their birthdays. So we could easily be talking about 2 dozen or more cakes yearly if your extended family lived nearby enough to visit for birthdays.

But having said that, turns out that particular grandmother (Dad's mom) made one cake each week. However, with a family of 9, the cake only lasted about 2 days (at most), so it still wasn't a daily treat.

My mother on the other hand complained that dad's mom only made one cake a week, and when it was gone, it was gone until the next week. She thought that was just awful, because the "greedy" older kids in the family always got more cake than the younger ones.

So my mom had a cake in the house all the time. I don't know when she started making cakes from boxed mixes (or if she'd always used boxed mixes), but it was quick and easy enough for her that as soon as one was gone, she made another one the next day.

The only thing was that she hated "grease" and the frosting was about half butter or shortening, so she'd make a 9X13 sheet pan cake, and spread the thinnest possible layer of frosting over it. That cake was cut into 12 pieces (or sometimes 15 pieces). So it could have been worse - I've seen a lot of people cut a 2-4 layer cake with frosting between the layers and a thick layer of frosting on the outside into 8 pieces.
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