Everyone always asks me for my very mild chili recipe (actually, I've only gotten one request but, still, it is worth a blog post on the coldest night of year at halftime of the football game). I'm somewhat of a chili expert having worked one summer (and, secret, part of a fall) at Brooking'sChili King in Lexington so here it is:
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 - 35 oz can tomato puree
1 - 6 oz can tomato paste
2 - 15 oz cans of kidney beans
Grill the onions and garlic, brown the meat, combine everything in a pot and turn heat up to medium. Once a couple of bubbles pop, turn the heat down to medium-low and stir often for about two hours. Serve with some combination of spaghetti, chopped onions, oyster crackers and shredded cheese.
A few days into the experiment, the new world of legal-recreational-marijuana sales in Colorado appears to be a big success — so much so that pot shops are finding it impossible to keep up with demand.
According to the Denver Post, at least 37 stores in Colorado were licensed to sell recreational pot to anyone 21 or over as of New Year’s Day. The Associated Press and others reported long lines outside Denver pot shops, with some eager customers forced to wait three to five hours before getting a chance to go inside, step up to the counter and make a purchase.
Prices have been steep — in some cases, stores were charging $50 or even $70 for one-eighth of an ounce of pot that cost medical marijuana users just $25 the day before — and taxes add on an extra 20% or so. Even so, sales have been brisk.
Prices in legal pot shops have already risen to upwards of $400 an ounce. Once you factor in taxes, as well as the fact that it looks like shops may periodically be sold out for a while, and some are saying the situation is one that could push pot enthusiasts back to buying marijuana on the black market. “People will get real tired of paying the taxes real fast,” one street dealer in Pueblo named Tracy told the Chieftain. “When you can buy an ounce from me for $225 to $300, the state adds as much as $90 just for the tax.”
Point 2: One of the arguments for legalization of marijuana is that buyers are willing to pay a premium to avoid the risk of fine/arrest by buying from non-licensed dealers (aka the black market). One of the itneresting questions that will play out in Colorado is just how large the difference between the legal price and the black market price will be.
That bunch of bananas on your kitchen counter -- the ones that are a staple of your baby's diet and the linchpin of your breakfast -- could be wiped out within the next couple years.
According to science journal Nature, the Cavendish banana variety, which accounts for nearly all of the world's global export trade, is under serious attack from a fungus that is making its way around the globe. The fungus recently turned up at banana plantations in Mozambique and Jordan, triggering fears that its next stop will be Latin America, the world's largest banana exporter. According to Nature, the fungus had been thought to be confined to Asia until it turned up in Mozambique in October.
"For those who buy their bananas in supermarkets, the Cavendish may well be the only variety they know," said Nature.
Bananas are grown in more than 130 countries, but the U.S. is a marginal producer, accounting for just 0.01% of global production in 2009, according to the University of Florida. As a result, the U.S. depends on exports from Latin American and the Caribbean. Between 2003 and 2012, Latin American and Caribbean exports averaged 11.7 million tons and accounted for 81% of the global export market. Hence the fears of a banana-killing fungus finding its way to the region.
Prices have also increased significantly over the last ten years. Import prices for bananas in 2013 have reached $900 per ton, compared to $375 in 2003.
Sheesh, just when I make the ealthy decision to start eating bananas for breakfast...
Future expectations affect demand and supply. In some cases, a future supply decrease (which will tend to raise prices) will cause an increase in demand today--to stockpile, thus raising the price today, a sort-of self- fulfilling prophesy. But since bananas are perishable, its unlikely that there is going to be a sudden run on bananas--unless they are going to be frozen for banana bread. Instead, the expected decrease in future supply of Cavendish bananas is likely to cause a search for banana substitutes..like this:
Fortunately, the Cavendish banana represents only about 13% of the 150 million tons of bananas produced worldwide every year. And some see the demise of the Cavendish as a positive for the taste buds. James Dale, director of the Centre for Tropical crops and Biocommodities at Queensland Unversity of Technology in Australia, told Nature that the Cavendish is bland and bruises too easily. He favors the Gros Michel variety. "It's such a superior banana to Cavendish. To bring it back would be wonderful.
This week, the EPA is expected to announce changes to the ethanol mandate, a 2007 law that requires energy companies to mix billions of gallons of ethanol into gasoline and diesel fuels. After six years in the mix, corn-based ethanol has lost its popularity, and a diverse group of critics is calling for the law's repeal.
Why are environmentalists in favor of a rollback/repeal?
Though ethanol fuel releases less carbon dioxide than other kinds of gas, many question if the side effects of production are worth it...Growing corn requires fertilizer, which requires natural gas to make. Fertilizer also has contaminated rivers and drinking water, says the report. And ethanol factories usually burn coal or gas, which dumps carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Why are Tea Partiers in favor of a rollback/repeal?
Other opponents complain the mandate — like any energy subsidy — is free market poison, claiming it "distorts fuel markets and will raise gasoline prices, especially as the increased blending requirements collide with declining demand for gasoline," reports Politico.
Strange bedfellows indeed.
And who is in favor of keeping the mandate?
Meanwhile, the ethanol industry is asking the AP to retract the story. “At best, the AP article is lazy journalism, but at worst, it appears purposefully designed to damage the ethanol industry,” American Coalition for Ethanol Executive Vice President Brian Jennings said in a statement to the press. “There was an incredibly reckless disregard for the truth in the handiwork of this hit-piece.”
Few studies explore the linkages between health behaviors and macroeconomic outcomes. This study uses 1971–2007 state-level data from the United States to estimate the impact of beer consumption on economic growth. We document that beer consumption has negative effects on economic growth measures once the endogeneity of beer consumption is addressed. Our estimates are robust to a range of specification checks. These findings run parallel to a large body of literature documenting substantial social and economic costs stemming from alcohol use.
Note that this is our first post in the "Beer" category. What took us so long?
From John, via Newmark's Door, via Slate comes this intriguing story of the real origins of Maryland Blue Crabs:
Lots of local [Maryland] diners have a taste for blue crab. Lots of chefs and restaurateurs have good crab-based recipes. Lots of home cooks enjoy hosting crab-related events and have their own preferred methods of crab preparation. Over time, as the region's population has grown, this local crab economy's ferocious demand for crab has outstripped the local ecosystem's [Chesapeake Bay] sustainable level of crabbing. So the market demands that crabs [from Louisianna] be shipped not to crabless parts of America but to America's crab-production heartland [Maryland]—the place where the secondary and tertiary elements of the crab economy are in place, and the finished product has maximum value.
Increased demand causes increases in quantity supplied. When the local economy can no longer supple the quantity demanded, non-local producers will increase the quantity supplied (because the relative willingness to pay is higher).
The winless Jacksonville Jaguars have released their own strategy to increase ticket attendance to this week’s game and prevent a blackout: free beer.
The NFL club is entering its fourth week against the Indianapolis Colts, and in an effort to draw fans to EverBank field they have taken to Twitter to announce: “2 free drinks for next 2 hrs” with a ticket to this Sunday’s game.
Economic lesson for the day: there's no such thing as a free beer. The only fans affected by this promotion are the marginal fans (marginal in the economic sense) who were less than two stadium beers away from attending the game in the first place.
And doesn't beer cause blackouts? Not prevent them?
It might seem that the range of scents humans can detect is infinite, but scientists have
managed to sort them all into 10 basic categories, ranging from peppermint to pungent.
The classifications are meant to be the olfactory equivalent of the five basic tastes: sweet,
sour, salty, bitter and umami (savory).
To come up with the 10 scents, neuroscientists turned to a 30-year-old database that contained
profiles of 144 odors. Each odor was assessed by human subjects, who were given a list of 146 words
and asked to rate how well each word described the odor. The researchers wanted to see if they
could look for patterns in those responses that would help them group the odors.
Using statistics, they analyzed how the 146 words were used and how they were related to one
another. Some words were almost always used together, such as
honey. Others were rarely or never paired, such as
By the end of the analysis, the researchers came up with a total of 10 distinct groups of words
that tended to be used together.
The result was a list of 10 key odor categories: fragrant, woody/resinous, minty/peppermint,
sweet, chemical, popcorn, lemon, fruity (non-citrus), pungent and decayed.
Nobel Prize winning economist* and colleague of mine, Brent Sohngen, wrote the following for his undergraduate class in "Food, Population and the Environment":
high prices for energy and food leave many concerned that we are pushing the
limits of the earth's system with too many people and too much consumption. One
example of our over-indulgence is meat eating. Estimates vary, but in
general, a cow has to eat 12 calories of food for us to get one calorie of
edible meat. Surely we would use less land and be better off if we just
ate less red meat, right?
look more carefully at this question. Just how much land does our meat eating
use? Beef is intensive, and the typical American's annual beef intake is
58 pounds. It takes about 2400 square feet of cropland to produce that
beef, or the size of the average house. As a whole, we use about 6% of
our cropland to grow our annual beef intake.
sources of meat are more efficient than beef. It takes 2 calories of
input for a calorie of pork, and 4 calories of input for a calorie of
chicken. This translates into 400-600 square feet of land, or an area of
land about the size of our living rooms, for us to eat the equivalent number of
calories as 58 pounds of beef. If we want to use soybeans, tofu, other kinds of
beans, or tree nuts like almonds instead, we would use up more land than if we
were to get the same number of calories from pigs and chickens.
if we are not using that much land now, aren't we constantly using more land,
and consuming more food? One economic "certainty" from the past is
that the wealthier people are, the more meat they eat. In the US, meat
consumption grew substantially after World War II as per capita income rose, and
the middle class grew. People in other parts of the world are less
wealthy than we are, and they eat far less meat right now. As their incomes
rise, they will consume more meat.
food reality here in America, though, is not one of endlessly increasing
consumption. Over the past 30 years, our diet has actually become a lot
less land consuming. Actually, it's pretty amazing what we have done.
Based on our typical diet today, we eat the equivalent of about half an acre
each year. Back in 1980 we used two-thirds of an acre, or about 35% more
land per person, for our food consumption. How have we managed to
economize like this?
we seem to have turned the corner on overall food consumption. Between
1980 and 2004 per person food consumption in the US rose by 0.6% per year, but
it has fallen ever since. This recent reduction probably results from
higher real food prices, but it may also have to do with the influence of our
national dialogue on obesity. Second, we've changed our diet by consuming
more poultry and tree nuts, and less beef. We have traded off more land
consuming foods for less land consuming foods.
we have dramatically increased the productivity of our agriculture. Food
production in the US, as measured by cereal yields, has increased by 1.6% per
year since 1980. About half of the reduction in land needed for our
consumption is due to a change in our diet, and the other half is due to an
improvement in land productivity.
are 38% richer in real terms, and population has grown by 36% since 1980, but
today we only need 145 million acres to feed ourselves, down from 147 million
in 1980. We nevertheless still use about 335 million acres of productive
cropland, and an additional 700 million acres of less productive land. The
excess food we produce is exported or turned into ethanol.
less meat will not necessarily cause us to use less farmland – exports and
ethanol are just too lucrative. But eating less meat, when combined with
productivity improvements, does help us use the land we have more
effectively. Given a rising global middle class in Latin America and Asia
that will demand more food and meat, this will be a good lesson for other
countries to learn.
"This blog aims to look at more of the microeconomic ideas that can be used toward environmental ends. Bringing to bear a large quantity of external sources and articles, this blog presents a clear vision of what economic environmentalism can be."
... the Environmental Economics blog ... is now the default homepage on my browser (but then again, I guess I am a wonk -- a word I learned on the E.E. blog). That is a very nice service to the profession. -- Anonymous
"... I try and read the blog everyday and have pointed it out to other faculty who have their students read it for class. It is truly one of the best things in the blogosphere." -- Anonymous