Food Prices: One Year After

NBA star James had the most food and beverage endorsements, including Sprite, McDonald’s and Powerade. Manning was second, with endorsements including Gatorade and Pepsi-Cola. Williams was third, with Kraft Oreo, Gatorade, Nabisco 100 Calorie Pack Snacks and Got Milk. A score was generated for each athlete based on his or her Power 100 ranking, the number of ads and food endorsements, the highest percentage of food endorsements compared with other endorsements, and the healthfulness of each food and beverage endorsed. Where 1 is the worst possible score and 100 the best, Manning topped that list at 28.9, followed by Williams (32.4) and James (42.7). Data showed baseball player Ryan Howard endorsed the fewest high-calorie, nutrition-poor food products; his total score was 71.3. Experts working with the NFL’s youth fitness initiative emphasized players’ involvement with health and wellness activities. “NFL players through NFL PLAY 60 are making a difference by motivating and educating students across the nation to be active and healthy … I am excited about the star power and the overall impact on inspiring youth to make healthier choices,” physician and aerobic fitness expert Kenneth Cooper said in a statement. “Together we all need to be a part of the solution to help continue to shape healthy bodies and minds.” The new findings “clarify how many athletes are pitching so many different kinds of foods, almost all of them unhealthy,” says Michael Jacobson, executive director of the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest. Earlier this year CSPI criticized former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal and singer Beyonce for their soft drink endorsements.

Top chefs review America’s toughest food critics

The UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Task Force on Global Food Security repeatedly and energetically called for calm and coordination, contributing to contain price increases. The reformed Committee on World Food Security — that will session starting Monday October 7 — has proven its value as the most inclusive forum to discuss food security and, in a landmark achievement, endorsed last year the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security . Among many other initiatives, last October FAO hosted a ministerial summit to discuss food prices, co-organized with the Government of France who played a leading role in establishing AMIS. In 2007-8, increased use of maize for biofuel production was pressuring food prices, excessive speculation on futures markets accentuated price volatility and panic buying and export restrictions led to prices spinning out of control. But, in 2012, these elements were generally controlled and good sense prevailed in markets. The importance of linkages between food and energy markets has been recognized and the costly biofuel policies implicated in pushing up food prices in recent years are being questioned in a number of countries, including the USA. In another change, widespread public outrage over excessive speculation with food prices led many banks to review their positions and made some of them publically renounce that practice. In fact, today, speculation on futures markets seems to have diminished and played little role in recent price volatility. It could, however, re-emerge depending on financial and monetary conditions, so we need to ensure that these markets are transparent and suitably regulated. Different ways to avoid excessive price volatility and to guarantee availability of food are also being discussed, with the setting up food reserves as an option. Does the current situation mean that our food price problems are over? No. International prices are still higher than their historical trend — higher than the peak in 2008, for example. On the other hand, regardless of price levels, excessive price volatility presents additional challenges, especially for small-scale farmers in developing countries with restricted access to financial mechanisms to contain the impacts of low or negative returns.

“He likes food!” Noted others: “Trust!” “Erudite and warm,” and “Corby is a writer who brings a wonderful sense of information to the page.” “I think Corby is the quintessential New Englander, cutting right to the chase always,” said one chef, “I like that. And Kummer even inspired at least one chefs inner writer, “Like a dry martini, cold enough to freeze your upper teeth, Corby is an interesting wordsmith. He has his prejudices, but isn’t that the point. I find him very readable.” The most puzzling comment? “He is a Yankee after all.” CULINARY KNOWLEDGE: 2.94 stars, tied at 4th place (2012: 2.72, 7th) PROSE STYLE: 3.2 stars, 2nd place (2012: 2.8, 5th) INTEGRITY: 3.14 stars, 5th place (2012: 2.4, 9th) LIKE TO SHARE A MEAL?: 3.2 stars, tied at 3rd place (2012: 2.24, 11th) 6Pete Wells, The New York Times, 2.99 Stars AP Pete Wells fared well, pretty well last year, placing third in the list of writers and critics that chefs surveyed. Its interesting to note that last years survey took place before his lashing out at Guy Fieri. He didnt place as high this year, falling three spots overall, but once again, critics couldnt resist analyzing his development or just weighing in on the state of restaurant reviewing at The New York Times. “He has expanded the horizons of The New York Times reviews during his tenure, but not always favorably,” offered one chef. Others described him as “fairly knowledgeable,” “sharp, incisive, not afraid to mix it up,” a “lovely writer who is somewhat erratic in his stances,” and “Meh smart, but too eager to demonstrate it.” Some chefs were more verbose in their comments. “Wells reviews too soon,” said one. “I don’t understand him. Restaurants have to have some bizarre food wow factor… I just don’t think he knows food that well. He does know his wine, though.” And another: “Somehow, The Times’ food ratings don’t carry the same weight that they used to.

If food stamps were converted to a cash benefit it’s likely that the overspending — and thus a big piece of ag-industry pork — would diminish or disappear. What’s more, Yglesias says, the voucher system we now have breeds fraud and corruption, a standard plaint of Republicans. (In an amusing aside, he describes how some years ago he used to buy cigarettes — which can’t be purchased with the vouchers — for a neighbor who was on food stamps, who in turn bought him boxes of Diet Coke. Food-stamp fraud alert.) Hold on a minute. Studies suggest that fraud is modest, equal to about 1 percent of the program’s spending. That’s still a lot of money, but as a percentage of the total it’s minor. Furthermore, fraud has gotten harder ever since benefits have been issued on electronic-benefit transfer cards, which operate like debit cards at the grocery store. What’s more, drawbacks to doling out cash are real and fly in the face of the moral component of receiving a government benefit. Aid comes with strings attached as part of the goal of inducing behavior that’s deemed socially beneficial. That’s why food stamps can’t be used to buy tobacco or alcohol. If a cash handout is easier for a store to administer, the same is true for a cash benefit used to buy dope on the street.