Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pressure at the plate...

And it's not just the Cubs who are choking now.

While it can take some time to work through our food system, influences on our food choices are increasing from all kinds of angles. For example, we seem to want more variety and less volume in our meals.

Upstarts like the snack menu, with its little offerings of polpettine and deviled eggs, are encroaching from the flank. Crudi, salumi plates and cheese boards have piled on. The appetizer, once a loyal lieutenant, is demanding more attention on menus. Side dishes and salads, fortified by seasonal ingredients and innovative preparations, are announcing their presence with new authority.

But the gravest threat may be the dining public, which seems to have lost interest in big, protein-laden main dishes.

“I think the entree has been in trouble for a long time,” said the chef Tom Colicchio. “Eating an entree is too many bites of one thing, and it’s boring.”

That’s in part why he moved away from the classic appetizer-entree-dessert rhythm of Gramercy Tavern when he opened Craft in 2001, one of the first prominent restaurants in New York to deconstruct the menu into a long list of proteins, side dishes and sauces to be mixed and matched into a family-style meal. [More]
Of curse, that's in places like New York City - almost another planet. But I myself have found the smaller menus in mid-scale restaurants (especially the tiny desserts) rapidly becoming my choice. And I often opt for an appetizer and soup or salad. Luckily beer is still a good buy in volume.

In addition, obesity harangues are hard to shut out completely. And then there are the doctors weighing in on our diet.
Participants were divided into five categories with respect to their average intake of red meat and processed meat. The findings suggest that the top fifth group of participants, whose average daily consumption of red meat was the highest, had the greatest risk of developing colorectal, lung, esophageal and liver cancer as compared to the consumption of the lowest fifth group of people. These findings provide concrete evidence that consumption of higher quantity of processed meats and red meat boosts the risk of developing colorectal and lung cancer as compared to the consumption of lower quantity of such meat products. [More]
This is just latest broadside from the lab against meat consumption. I think it is important to remember we will be obsessing about cancer more as we mitigate - even eliminate other Top Ten Causes of Death. Cancer is a disease of the immune system which weakens naturally with age, so if a major "grabber" is averted by stents, we could be cruising toward a cancer showdown instead.

But the cruelest blow of all could be where meat prices are headed - indeed where they
have to be heading, according to livestock feeders, in order cover enormous feed costs.
Agricultural commodities analysts have warned that rising prices for corn, wheat and soyabean will force up feedstock costs for farmers, leading to higher meat, poultry and milk prices for consumers.

Food prices are boosting inflationary pressures just as central banks are trying to cut rates to cushion their economies from the effect of the credit squeeze.

China said on Tuesday that inflation had reached an 11-year high at 6.9 per cent in November, boosted by a 18.2 per cent jump in food prices.

Eurozone inflation recently rose to a six-year high propelled by high oil and food prices. [More]
Changing tastes, expensive meat, and health-spooked consumers. This is not a good time for corn farmers to be sticking it to the meat industry, IMHO.

But I'll bet we do.

And I'll bet those same ranchers vote for the same Congressdudes that helped us do it.

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