Wednesday, April 02, 2008

NYTimes and Pollan Disagree with Me

It shouldn't be a surprise that the NYTimes has an article suggesting that higher food prices will turn people away from bad food and onto good food (i.e., locally grown fruits and vegetables). An excerpt:

"Along with some other critics of the American way of eating, he [Michael Pollan] likes the idea that some kinds of food will cost more, and here’s one reason why: As the price of fossil fuels and commodities like grain climb, nutritionally questionable, high-profit ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup will, too. As a result, Cokes are likely to get smaller and cost more. Then, the argument goes, fewer people will drink them.

And if American staples like soda, fast-food hamburgers and frozen dinners don’t seem like such a bargain anymore, the American eating public might turn its attention to ingredients like local fruits and vegetables, and milk and meat from animals that eat grass. It turns out that those foods, already favorites of the critics of industrial food, have also dodged recent price increases."

They may be right, but I doubt it. (The same issue contains a story on how a big tomato grower in PA isn't growing this year for lack of immigrants to pick the crop.)

I suspect the biggest question is how people think (always a good cliche). Do they have a food budget, so that if Coke becomes more costly they will switch to apples? Do they have a standard of living budget, so if meals at restaurants become more costly they switch from Ruby Tuesday to Wendy's? Or maybe eat one big meal at Mcdonalds instead of two meals at home?

The cheapest calories are still going to be the ones the foodies don't like, so if a consumer feels a squeeze on the overall budget, the logic should drive them to the cheaper stuff.

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