Welcome to the last third of summer and Food Week August 16. Ecommerce went down and SNAP went up. Bacon panic gripped California and restaurants in some cities started checking for vaccines. Bugs are important for the planet AND edible. Same with oysters. And drug cartels are muscling into the avocado biz. Have fun.
- Food week August 16 saw unemployment claims fall to a pandemic low.
- Major hurricane threatening huge portions of the Northeast.
- Insurers are now passing COVID treatment costs back to patients, including the unvaccinated. Likely a turning point as high medical bills can truly focus the mind on reality.
RETAIL AND CONSUMER
- Ecommerce slowed while Walmart saw a big jump. Traditional shopping has returned in most places. But Amazon now sells more than Walmart.
- Food inflation is largely caused by supply chain disruptions, climate and COVID. It is likely NOT macro or permanent. But that is cold comfort. Here’s how families in four countries are dealing with the high price of food.
- Biden administration approved the largest increase to food assistance benefits in SNAP program history. Just to contextualize this, the benefits will now be $5 a day, or less than you just spent at Starbucks.
- There was a lot of discussion about an impending bacon shortage I was hearing when I was in California last week, A lot of the squealing was from pork producers. But the threats of a bacon-less hellscape demonstrate that their business model is based upon animal cruelty.
- Maybe I am way too invested but I am extremely dubious about these. Plant-based, hard-boiled, RTE eggs to hit the market. Will try anyway.
RESTAURANTS AND FOODSERVICE
- San Francisco restaurants now checking vaccine status before letting you in. New York too.
- Restaurant tickets are up over 20%. The article attributes this to large parties and special occasions but I might suggest that people are just plain letting it rip after a year of limited dining out,
- As previously discussed, issues with drunks on airplanes is almost entirely sourced to pre-flight drinking. The FAA now recognizes this and is trying to crack down,
- A restaurant that knows how to serve people with disabilities.
- There is a lot of uncertainty and anxiety about school nutrition programs coming out of COVID
FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN
- Smaller farmers in California do not have the leverage or resources of large scale operations. In a time of dwindling supply and allocation, their options winnow quickly. And the Colorado River is at a record low level so water for Arizona farmers is being reduced. Is this the beginning of the end for traditional agriculture in the Southwest?
- Pollinators (not just bees) are hugely important to agriculture. Interaction between various forms of pesticides increases deaths and colony collapses. Pesticides can amplify each other. Pollinators have become the victims.
- Speaking of insects, the promise of insect protein is huge but it is essentially a cultural issue. Many places around the world eat insects in various forms. Investors are now intrigued.
- Mexican drug cartels diversifying into avocado industry? I suppose this was predictable but still is surprising. Drug cartels follow the money.
- Port congestion hitting record levels on both coasts. Generally bad but disastrous for shorter shelf life products.
FOOD WEEK AUGUST 16 LAGNIAPPE
- More oysters are always good. And more oysters can mean a cleaner ocean.
- How to smoke brisket, the Texas crutch way. Crutch simply means wrapping it in foil when it reaches evaporative cooling at 150 -160F. Speeds it along and keeps in flavor. You didn’t know that? Well, neither did I.
- I am a huge fan of the Bourbon Milk Punch from the Bourbon House in NOLA, but the Clarified Milk Punch is something different indeed. Time to experiment! How to Make Clarified Milk Punch.
- Good points in article but I would suggest that concentrated stocks are pretty good and while making your own isn’t hard, it requires time and labor: 4 Cooking Shortcuts That Aren’t Worth The Time They Save
- There’s a biophysicist experimenting with asparagus as a material for medical implants. Will it make your urine smell funky forever?
- A Q and A on fermented foods