As Food Prices Rise, is an Economic Slowdown Our Only Hope?

Well this is a great story: mega-chains ranging from McDonald's to Nestle, Cracker Barrel to Whole Foods, are raising their prices, not because they're trying to milk you dry, but because the cost for food is going up, up, up. Yay!

The United States Department of Agriculture had already forecast this year that food prices would rise an average of three to four percent, but other food watchers say food inflation is even higher--thus, the price gouging.

But one forecaster says the only way to curb this inflation, to stop hamburger riots, is to pray that our economy continues to slow down, thus halting consumption.

The fascinating thought is actually paraphrased, in a Bloomberg article as the following:

A prolonged economic slowdown would curb demand and may halt further price increases, said [Bill] Lapp, the former ConAgra economist. Unlike in 2008, when food rose at the fastest pace in 28 years, consumers are quick to seek cheaper alternatives, he said.

I can be some Alice Water snob and welcome the rise of food as a way to force Americans to look inward and raise more food, or an Eric Schlosser alarmist and decry the globalization of the food industry that makes such prices so volatile (actually, Schlosser is hardly alarmist and is actually more sober in his analysis than critics will ever acknowledge), but I'll save that for now. Just remember, folks: you should always rely on what's around you more than what companies offer you--wait, I just did what I said I wouldn't...

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Mann Hamilton
Mann Hamilton

[Food chains] are raising their prices, not because they're trying to milk you dry Correct. In even a quasi-free-market system, any business "trying to milk you dry" is an easy target for the cutthroat competition.

thus, the price gouging Not correct. "Gouging" means "overcharging," not accurate for a business raising prices because its costs have gone up.

pray that our economy continues to slow down, thus halting consumption Is this a joke? Instead of praying for a slowdown, let's do what it takes to help the economy speed up. Don't you want greater consumption of ad space in the OC Weekly, e.g.? More business spending, more people working -- it ain't rocket science, food writer.you should always rely on what's around you more than what companies offer you Very trendy but hopelessly illogical: (1) What happens to the low-population farm states? A: They go out of business with so few local customers for their vast crop capacity. (2) What about urban areas with lots of people but little agricultural land nearby? A: They learn to eat less. (3) And how 'bout those regions that can't grow crops in winter? A: Hey, everybody, let's move to Southern California -- easy-going taxpayers and great social services!

Many other problems ... do a little reading somewhere other than the Puffington Host.

Sure, locally grown food is often better for many reasons and has a legitimate niche in a balanced food economy, but widespread "loco-vorism" is a romantic pipe dream, even though advocated by one of America's greatest restaurateurs, Alice Waters (with an "s," BTW).

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