I don't know about you, but I sure feel better at this news.
But I could really use a cheeseburger.
And if we — if we unpack that, one of the interesting findings of the report that we put out today is that about half of the overall increase in grocery prices can be attributed to a significant increase in prices in three products: in beef, in pork, and in poultry. And in beef and in pork, we've seen double-digit increases in prices over the last couple of months.
...if you take out those three categories, we've actually seen price increases that are more in line with historical norms. And we've seen, in some categories — for example, fresh fruits and vegetables — prices have actually declined since the end of last year.
If I were to unpack my home bathroom renovation project, one of the interesting findings is that about half of the things not working can be attributed to the toilet, sink, and shower.
If you take those out, most of the items are working in line with historical norms, and the soap dish and towel bar are exceeding expectations.
Yes, America, all you need to do is cut back – way back – on your primary source of dietary protein and your food budget will be just fine.
A 2015 study did a deep dive into eating habits and found that meat contributes nearly half of Americans' protein intake.
(You can tell the study is from 2015 in that it does not include the 64 pie charts that would be necessary today to accommodate all potential genders nor does it address the critical question regarding the protein preferences prevailing in the aporagender and transmasculine communities.)
You might look at these charts and think, well, upping your intake of proteins from plants might be relatively easy given that they already make up close to a third of most people's diet. The problem with that is that we're not talking broccoli and kale (which are poor in protein), plus it's not all beans and seeds either.
It's mostly junk.
Let's take a look at the top 10 "plant" sources of protein:
Bread is the Usain Bolt of plant proteins, coming in at #1 and it's not even close, nearly double the nearest competitor. Also in the top ten are french fries, beer, and Cap'N Crunch.
Sounds like a party to me!
No, seriously, that's a dinner party at my house.
Sometimes you have to wonder if they're just clueless or if they really hate you.
The thing about animal protein is that it is an incredibly dense source of protein.
It also typically provides a full spectrum of amino acids. The eating of meat products was so important to early humans in fact, that it's believed by some to have played a key role in brain development.
Eating meat led to smaller stomachs, bigger brains
This idea — called the Expensive Tissue Hypothesis (ETH) in Aiello's co-authored 1992 paper — argues that around 1.5 million years ago early humans began to eat more meat, a compact, high-energy source of calories that does not require a large intestinal system.
It's likely that meat eating "made it possible for humans to evolve a larger brain size," said Aiello.
Not only that, but eating meat is often considered an "indicator of economic well-being."
So what is the deal with all this meat inflation?
According to the Biden Administration's NEC flack, Brian Deese (long-time operative in Democratic party politics fighting for the people and all at least when he's not busy pulling down a few million doing a stint at Black Rock), its the fault of big bad business what with all their making a profit.
If you look at that market, the thing that is striking is — across beef, poultry, and pork — significant consolidation in those industries. So anywhere from 55 to 85 percent of the market is controlled by the top four producers in those industries. And so when you see that level of consolidation and the increase in prices, it raises a concern about pandemic profiteering — about companies that are driving price increases in a way that hurts consumers who are going to the grocery store, and also isn't benefitting the actual producers — the farmers and the ranchers — that are growing — are growing the product.
So we have a story of consolidated industries with companies that are generating record profits and then driving price increases for consumers without price — without passing on those benefits to the underlying producers.
Eat the rich!
Keep in mind the NEC was created by president Clinton five days after he was inaugurated in 1993 by executive order.
The National Economic Council was created on January 25, 1993, by Executive Order 12835, to coordinate the economic policy making process and provide economic policy advice to the President. The Council also ensures that economic policy decisions and programs are consistent with the President's stated goals, and monitors the implementation of the President's economic goals. Its creation fulfilled a major campaign pledge of President Bill Clinton to put the then current economic situation of the United States at the forefront of federal policy making.
It was a campaign promise, created at the whim of a presidential pen (not an act of Congress) and its web page, incorporated directly into the White House's own, consists of a splash page and that's it. It might as well say, "This Page Under Construction" for all the information it provides.
If you want to know anything else about it you literally have to go searching the web, which I did.
The people who sit on it are political appointees. Every single one.
It also appears to be staffed by political appointees, former campaign officials, former advisors, and some likely political payoffs. Not a single career government employee that I can find (although they claim they have some dedicated staff).
The NEC is an arm of the re-elect Biden campaign. You should put as much stock in what they say as you would a campaign ad. It is wholly owned by the campaign and an instrument of power for them.
So, what does a semi-independent agency like the U.S. Department of Agriculture with career staff, transparent data sets, and an actual web page have to say about why beef, pork, and poultry prices are increasing so much?
Beef and veal prices increased 0.5 percent from June to July 2021, pork prices increased 2.2 percent; and poultry prices increased 1.9 percent. These increases follow 5 months of consecutive price increases for all three categories. Prices have been driven up by strong domestic and international demand, high feed costs, and supply chain disruptions.
Drought conditions earlier in the year and cyber attacks also played a small role according to the USDA.
Oddly absent is any discussion of consolidation, profiteering, or the need for vigilant anti-trust enforcement.
They were asked about this in the Q&A. Deese, having a pretend job in a make-believe department handed it off to Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of Agriculture, who should know better given what his own non-political staff noted above.
These were some of his responses:
I think — so, with respect — with respect to — with respect to the data, if you look at the beef industry, for example, the top four — the top four meat processors control 85 percent of the market. That's in contrast to — I mentioned the issue of eggs earlier, where a far less concentrated — the top four processors there are in control of about 30 percent of the market. And what we've seen is that those — those four companies — those four — those four companies — we can get you the details — it includes JBS, Tyson. We — it's in the report that we put out.
I think Biden thinks more clearly than this guy.
To review, according to the Biden administration, grocery prices are increasing dramatically but half of the problem is coming from American's principle source of protein (so no biggie there).
Besides, they plan to tackle this by having the Secretary of Agriculture address issues that have nothing to do with it according to the department he leads.
To that, I would only add that you can probably stop paying any attention right now to anything Brian Deese has to say, or any other pronouncement coming out of the NEC.
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