Recently, CNN reported on the highly unusual weather patterns that the United States has endured during the past year. For instance, they noted that the U.S. has experienced its warmest 12 month period since 1895 and that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is calling 2011 a year of ‘extreme weather’.
Whether or not you are religious, this abnormally long stretch of very hot and very dry weather might make you wonder whether the apocalypse is gearing itself up for a day of reckoning.
Or, perhaps more likely, you might wonder how you’re going to afford the predicted increase cost of food in 2013 and 2014.
As a result of all the excessively hot and dry weather, our nation’s corn and feed stocks (for livestock and poultry) are severely reduced. According to Feedstuffs, the USDA reduced its corn yield for 2012 by 25.7%, which equals to almost 4 billion bushels of corn. With the significant reduction in corn supply (and good corn, for that matter), the cost to feed our livestock/poultry will also increase. While some of this price increase might be offset by the grocery stores/retailers, the increased cost of corn is anticipated to increase the overall cost of beef, poultry and dairy products (beef could increase as much as 8% in 2013).
What is the price elasticity of meat (how responsive is demand to price changes)? According to the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board of the UK, an increase in the overall beef market leads to a ‘greater than proportionate reduction in consumer demand’ – meaning, people will eat less meat if the price of meat increases, perhaps begrudgingly so.
As we saw in the Mark Bittman case, people, in general, do not like to be told what to do, what to eat, how to eat and when to eat. However, with the extreme changes in weather impacting our food prices, our futures may not allow us too many choices when it comes to determining what we eat (unless we change the way we farm and harvest and/or control the weather). In the case of increased meat, dairy and poultry prices, many of us (the 99%, maybe??) might be forced towards a period or lifetime of vegetarian/vegan dishes. Can you imagine? In the United States of America? Sounds like the Twilight Zone.
This may sound daunting, but in reality, this hypothetical ‘restriction’ could be the best thing that ever happened to this nation’s waistline, given that the leading cause of death (heart disease) is strongly correlated with a diet knee-deep in saturated fats and animal products.
Food for thought.
There is very little chance of this ‘frightening’ version of diet control in the United States ever coming into fruition; however, the scenario is a good reminder that a diverse, plant-based diet can be beneficial to both the wallet and our health. Thanks to my friend, Kate, for reminding me of a delicious vegetarian dish – my version of the ‘California Rolls’. It is not only scrumptious, but also nutritious and practical for picnics, lunch boxes and as a light meal.
Serves 6 bite-sized rolls
1/4 of a thinly sliced avocado
1/4 of a thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/4 cup of sauteed spinach
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
1/2 of sushi rice, cooked (follow instructions on package
1 sheet of nori (seaweed paper)
Lay the sheet of nori out flat and layer it with some sticky sushi rice. Close to one edge, add the avocado, bell pepper and spinach. Sprinkle the entire sheet with the sesame seed. Roll up the nori, starting with the side with the avocado, pepper and spinach. Roll up tightly. Then cut into 6th’s. Dip in some soy sauce and enjoy!