3 thoughts on “*ahem* Clark Watch 2008”

  1. Don’t want to use the NY Times as a reference, but does this imply that higher food prices will actually lead to an increase in US obesity rates?

    Fed != nourished. An overweight person can still suffer from malnutrition. Malnutrition and starvation are not preferable to obesity.

    Maybe prices will go high enough that local farms (carrying more diverse products) and vegetable gardens will become competitive.

  2. Could be. People have more than their waist lines in their objective functions. As prices change (one way or the other), people might choose fattier foods over more healthy foods. Also, as you get closer to subsistence levels of food consumption you’ll consider caloric levels more than other qualities of food and you’ll switch to cheaper sources of calories. Due to sugar subsidies, the cheapest forms of calories are sugars.

    Malnourished is such a slippery term. I don’t think there’s a scientifically certain answer to the question what we should and shouldn’t eat. To that extent, that question is answered differently by different people.

    As far as rising prices and local farms is concerned, I don’t think local farms are immune from the rising costs of supply. Every farmer has to pay increasing prices for oil. Also, there’s scale to think about. To take 100 lbs of strawberries from the fields out behind my house in Davis to my supermarket probably costs as much in fuel (per strawberry) as taking 100 tons from Argentina (or where ever) and getting them to my supermarket. This calculus doesn’t change much with increasing prices of oil.

  3. Re: your strawberry example – probably not. s/strawberries/bushels of wheat/g and you might be a little closer, but I still suspect that just getting the produce onto the ship matches your energy budget for getting local goods to the shelf. Scale doesn’t affect certain fixed energy costs. Lifting ten kilograms up a ramp doesn’t take fewer newtons per kilogram than lifting nine kilograms.

    Local farming does carry a nontrivial cost: heavy labor requirements. I suspect that your Argentinian strawberries are cheap because of cheaper labor, not teleporting cargo ships. At least this is a golden political subject. Jobs! Yay America!

    Scientific (consensus!) certainty or not, most doctors and nutritionists will agree that fresh leafy green vegetables and fruits are generally preferable to ramen and deep fried pork chops. A formalized definition of malnutrition might not exist, but it can’t be that hard to diagnose, say, calcium deficiency or scurvy in a fat kid.

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