Posts Tagged ‘ economics ’

Global Food Prices Are Rising

BBC Food Prices Report

The price of food around the world is set to rise as the Global Warming is causing draughts in many agricultural areas. Here’s a story from BBC: Global food prices set to rise due to severe weather

FDA Nutrition Labels are Getting Makeovers

“The Food and Drug Administration says that updating nutrition labels is a priority this year, although it’s unclear when the labels will change.”

FDA food labels

Getting information from food labels was one of the problems we’ve identified at the start of this project. It would be great to find out where the food comes from — how far did it have to travel? How was it produced? What was the eco footprint for the food we are consuming? We need to be able to make better choices at our local supermarkets. But to do that, we need good information.

Tradition Versus Progress

Cindy Sui Taimanise handmade noodlesCindy Sui of BBC News wrote an article examining the economics of producing traditional food: “Calling time on Taiwan’s handmade noodles.”

Hand-pulled string noodles, called mian xian in Mandarin, have been made for around 2,000 years. … Today only about 50 noodle makers are thought to remain in Taiwan.”

The economics of producing the noodles by hand changed — a family making the noodles for 14 hours each day can make only $100. And the hand-made noodles are sold for $2 to $3 per bag. It’s too much effort for too little reward — not enough to feed a family and to provide for all the other basic needs. And so another food tradition has to die. There will still be people making noodles by hand, but it will be something very special (and very expensive) and so an average person might never taste “the real thing!”

US Food Policy

Famines are not necessarily caused by a lack of supply, but by a failure to get the food that exists to the people who need it. — Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize Winning Economist

New York Times article “The Insanity of Our Food Policy” By Joseph Stiglitz about American Food and Farm policies provided an interesting collection of data:

  • 15% of US population and 2-% of its children live in poverty.
  • SNAP — Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program — gives $4.00 per day per person toward food purchases for those living below poverty threshold [for family of 4 this is equals to $23,492 per year (in 2012)].
  • The U.S. House of Representatives is proposing to cut an additional $40,000,000,000 from the SNAP program over 10 years after already cutting $5,000,000,000.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives is passing the Farm Subsidies worth $14,900,000,000.
  • In approximately the last 10 years, 1% of the famers received $1,500,000 each.
  • In approximately the last 10 years, 10% of all farms got 3/4 of $14,900,000,000, or $30,000 per farm per year.

You do the math!

The Insanity of Food Policy Article

Note by Note Gastronomy

molecular gastronomy
Chef Heston Blumenthal talks about the components of food — oils, amino acids, sugars, and other basic compounds — and how they can be used to create molecular gastronomy. This is food minus the fruits, vegetables, and meat… Enjoy!

Is this what we’ll eat in the future?

Do people care what goes into their food? YES!

A few weeks ago, there was a food scandal: UK Tesco Supermarkets were selling hamburger patties labeled as beef but containing 29% horsemeat! Tesco issued many apologies…

BBC News did some investigative reporting, and Samantha Dalton wrote an article: “What is actually in a value burger?” The article provided the following information on the ingredients of beef economy burgers sold in UK:

  • 47% meat — defined as “skeletal muscle with naturally included or adherent fat and connective tissue” which has not been mechanically stripped from the carcass.
  • 10% onion and/or onion extract
  • fat
  • flour or rusk
  • dehydrated meat powders
  • stabilising chemicals

Rose Prince, a UK food journalist and author, said: “Supermarkets are battling with each other to be the cheapest, and demanding better and better deals from their suppliers.” Essentially, she is saying that it is us, the consumers, that are demanding low quality from our supermarkets. “You get what you pay for” kind of analysis.

So the next time you are thinking about buying a burger in England, you might think again and go vegetarian!

Origins of Food — Tracking Food Fraud

There’s an article on BBC: Food Fraud Tackled by Forensic Scientists by Anna-Louise Taylor.

Wine, spirits, meat and even baby food can all be faked, with fraudsters hiding their true origins. Now forensic scientists are clamping down on food fraud, which costs millions in lost revenue and can put the health and safety of the public at risk.

We noticed from looking at the Cost of Chicken crowdmap, that most people who post the information don’t know where their food comes from! This is a problem if we want to understand the quality of our food and minimize the ecological footprint by making good decisions at the supermarket. This is why we thought of creating a smart phone app that would help decode this information.

Rising Prices of Chicken in UK

BPC warns consumers of chicken price rises — yet another article and warning about the rising costs of food and chicken in particular. This time, the people of UK are warned to expect to pay more for chickens due to high cost of chicken feed, which has risen due to a bad harvest this year.

I hope people in UK will use our crowdmap to track the rising chicken inflation.

US drought may drive up world food prices

2012 July was the hottest month in American history! And there are consequences — we are starting to notice the prices of food going up and the quality of food going down. Corn, which should be cheap and plentiful and especially great this time of year, is none of those things!

Check out this video from BBC:

The True Cost of Food by the Sierra Club

We just came across this project by the Sierra Club: The True Cost of Food! Sounds familiar? It did to us! Here’s what they have to say:

The Sierra Club Sustainable Consumption Committee Mission: To encourage people to think about the environmental impacts of their consumption choices by providing specific information.

SOME SOLUTIONS:

  • Eat more vegetables, fruit, and grains and less meat. Look for meat that is produced in the least harmful way—grass fed, organic, antibiotic- and hormone-free.
  • Buy organic whenever you can.
  • Buy from small, local sources whenever you can.

They also have a nice video. Check them out! And we hope they look at our project as well.