Frugal Food — End of Bacon?

August 20, 2014

picasso__le_repas_frugal-e1340367392424A bit of ground fog with a kind of warm quiet this early Wednesday on California’s north coast as we fall on through the work week.

Beyond the horror of the new normal — beheadings on video, Egypt giving the US advice on crowd control, Rick Perry in jail, and so forth — you get the picture. Getting shitty out there.

On top of the meat cleaver, food prices all over are about to skyrocket — even more than already.
The USDA last month: “The ongoing drought in California could potentially have large and lasting effects on fruit, vegetable, dairy and egg prices, and drought conditions in Texas and Oklahoma could drive beef prices up even further.”
And food inflation (any kind of eating) will rise by 2.5 to 3.5 percent this year.

(Illustration: Pablo Picasso’s ‘The Frugal Meal’ found here).

A couple of days ago, I picked up some extra-lean hamburger meat at Safeway — boiled over at the $6.49-a-pound price tag. Understandably, it’s the lean version, but WTF! Quietly, and seemingly in the shadows, food prices are escalating up the price stairway.
From the Christian Science Monitor:

According to report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Tuesday, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.1 percent in July, the weakest growth since February. One of the biggest factors was food prices, which increased 0.4 percent in July.
The monthly increase was small, but drought and disease have pushed food prices to historic heights over the past year or so.
Since July 2013, the price of meat is up 9.3 percent.
Dairy goods increased 4.3 percent from last July, and fruits and vegetables are up 2.0 percent.

Chris G. Christopher, director of consumer economics at IHS Global Insight, said in an e-mail, “Overall, the consumer inflation story is relatively mild. However, the direction of food prices is somewhat worrisome. Lower and middle income households are likely to be paying a larger percentage of their paychecks for grocery bills.”
Mr. Christopher added that household incomes, when adjusted for inflation, are 8.4 percent below 2007 levels, and that 15 percent of Americans live below the poverty line.
“The rise of food prices makes it more difficult for many Americans households – especially those households that live paycheck to paycheck,” he said.

Those paychecks are not elastic.
And going hole-hog ain’t gonna get it.
Pork prices are getting the Ebola treatment — ‘Aporkalypse Now!’
Via The Daily Beast:

It’s a carnivore’s worst nightmare: a virus is sweeping through America’s hog farms, causing massive die-offs among piglets.
Pork prices have spiked, rising 14 percent in the past year, due in large part to the seven million casualties from the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv).
With bacon retailing at $6.11 per pound in American cities, farmers and food lovers alike have begun to wonder if this could be the end of bacon.
The aporkalypse began last spring, when piglets on farms in Iowa began dying of severe diarrhea.
At first, officials believed it was caused by the transmissible gastroenteritis virus, which has been known to cause significant outbreaks on U.S. farms.
But measures to contain this virus weren’t working, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture began to look more closely. They found PEDv.
It’s alarming, says X.J. Meng, a virologist at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, because PEDv had never been seen in the U.S. before. “It’s not a new virus—it’s been around since the 1970s, but it’s new to the U.S.,” Meng said. “The Iowa and Minnesota strains are nearly identical to the Chinese [PEDv] virus,” Meng explains.

Although PEDv might not have a name that sends shivers up the spine quite like “Ebola” or “Marburg,” it has torn through the pig population like many scarier-sounding viruses are known to do in humans.
As its name suggests, PEDv causes serious diarrhea.
It sounds like a fairly banal symptom—none of the bleeding out of every orifice and then some that physicians are seeing in the current Ebola outbreak.
But diarrhea can and does kill in both humans and pigs.
Older pigs may be sick for a few days, but they generally survive. Piglets, especially those under 10 days of age, aren’t so lucky.
Without the reserves of their older cousins, piglets often don’t survive PEDv infections.
Like many gastrointestinal viruses, PEDv is spread by the fecal-oral route, and it can also survive for long periods of time on inanimate objects and solid surfaces.

The large number of dead adult pigs Dove has spotted indicates that the low mortality among sows may not be the case, although he couldn’t determine the cause of death for these pigs.
And with so many pigs dying, farms have been challenged to try and find hygienic ways to dispose of the carcasses.
Improper burial, Dove says, could mean that harmful bacteria are leeching into the waterways.
In eastern North Carolina, which has been hard hit by PEDv and contains many hog farms, the water table is extremely high, making it easy for contamination to occur.
“Pigs produce 10 times the fecal matter as humans.
“That means that all the pigs in North Carolina produce the same amount of feces every day as the people in North Carolina, California, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and North Dakota,” Dove says.

Hogshit, sonofabitch!

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