Let the countdown commence! The Secret Financial Life of Food is officially scheduled to drop on Nov. 20 – one month from today!
Last week, ZesterDaily.com ran a Q&A with yours truly: The Economics of Food with Author Kara Newman — the very first piece of press coverage about the book! My favorite part? Writer/editor Ruth Tobias brilliantly looped in the recent scare over a possible bacon shortage.
Q: Given the recent scare over a bacon shortage, I found the chapter on pork bellies quite enlightening. Can you elaborate on why pork bellies are no longer traded, and what it means for the average consumer and the ethically conscious consumer?
A. At the most basic level, traders buy and sell based on scarcity and anticipated demand. When that scarcity diminished thanks to better technologies in agriculture and refrigeration, as well as improved bacon-making techniques, trading eventually stopped. It’s now a more stable market.
I’ve asked economists: What does it mean for consumers that we don’t have pork-belly futures to kick around anymore? And the answer across the board is: “Not much.” Pork-belly contracts were a vehicle that outlived their usefulness, like egg futures and onion futures and many other contracts before them. Without the pricing mechanism that the futures market provides, prices might edge slightly higher at supermarkets — and for a little while, that might make pork from smaller producers a bit more attractive. But the average bacon lover probably hasn’t noticed even a blip at the checkout counter.