Tag Archives: markets

West Coast and Atlantic Northeast dominate U.S. in Farmers Markets (map)

A recent study from the USDA released this map of farmers markets. Notice that the Northeast and West Coast dominate (dark blue).

From the report:

“Direct-to-consumer sales are highest in the Northeast, on the West Coast, and around a few isolated metropolitan areas throughout the country.”

“Farms with direct-to-consumer sales are most likely to have neighbors who also participate in direct sales—this is a neighborhood effect”

…choosy moms choose farmers markets and the whole neighborhood improves?

“The West Coast has a long-standing system of farmers’ markets and farmerto-grocers’ marketing channels dating back to the 1970s. Small-scale farmers began selling organic and high value-added niche foods to upscale restaurants in the late 1970s (now a national trend) and are now part of farm-to-school marketing arrangements.”

“Another U.S. hot spot for local food sales is the Atlantic seaboard, particularly the Northeast census division. Local food sales farms in the Northeast generated 14.4 percent of U.S. local food production.”

Source: Direct and Intermediate Marketing of Local Foods in the US, USDA (page 11)

A note on salads

I have been agitating for a while that supermarkets sell the worst kind of food. I even go so far as to say that everything they sell makes you fat.

Which consistently causes folks to disagree with me, after all 98% of Americans buy their food from them.

But, that means they have a complete monopoly on our food system, and with our health in their hands, the US obesity rate is skyrocketing to unheard-of levels.

In the fast food industry, a recent report states that Subway is now the worlds largest fast food chain, displacing McDonalds. There is also a booming salad industry with an explosion of salad fast food chains.

Perhaps the fast food industry will save us?

Well, remember the cliche: “I’m on a diet so please give me a Diet Coke instead of a Coke.”

I think that fits as an analogy here.

Just saying you’re eating a salad doesn’t mean you are eating well. One could skip the hamburger for the salad then load it up with dressing and fried chicken. A report from ABC’s Good Morning America, points out that in many cases the salad is equally fatty or worse.

They point out that iceberg lettuce, which accounts for much of the salad, has “zero nutrients and zero fiber.”

Which is where I draw the line.

The story is all wrong. Yes, iceberg lettuce can be at zero, but so can everything else we eat. Let’s not take an entire crop and label it as useless.

Instead we should understand the nature of food. First and foremost, quality is the most important aspect of food and not all are created equal. Or, put another way, vegetables that are grown from quality seeds and harvested when ripe are densely filled with nutrients.

But, if you buy vegetables from a supermarket or fast food chain, you are not getting this. Instead, you are purchasing the cheapest food money can buy. Which means they are harvested before they are ripe and grown from the cheapest seeds.

There’s more. A growing number of items, like tomatoes and strawberries, have been modified to produce extra sugars. Added together you have produce practically empty of nutrients but with extra sugar.

Fantastic.

Even if you choose the best supermarkets have to offer, you skip the dressing, choose a lean meat, and all that…then the best you can do is “the cheapest food money can buy.”

A lot like choosing the Diet Coke.

If you’re new to this, here a good way to think about it.

Take the typical supermarket salad and cut it in half. That should be your portion size when eating high quality food. It should make you feel full and it should be delicious.

The reason for this is the dense amount of nutrients in the food which also makes it taste much better. Decrease the amount of nutrients and you will increase the amount you eat. It’s as simple as that.

Now, how long do you think it will take for 2/3 of America to understand this?

Sometimes you can spot the tomatoes that are "densely packed with nutrients"

photos

salad by catsper

tomatoes by clayirving

Farmers markets grow 250% since 2000

I’m all about farmers markets. Every dollar I spend on food goes there and they provide me with everything I need to eat and more (dessert!).

The reason for all this is covered in several previous posts, including: Why nobody knows how to prevent obesity & How food coma overcomes exercising.

A quick recap is that by eating at farmers markets you gain superior health and weight loss, prevent global warming, and save money.

For the longest time, I wondered why nobody else understood this. It turns out that since 2000, many, many more people are starting to agree with me.

Check out the graph provided by the USDA in their annual farmers market audit:

Notice that since the recession, the so-called “expensive” markets are surging with 164% growth since 2006. If this trend continues we may finally be able to impact our food system.

I can already see it happening in the supermarkets where the words “farmer”, “market”, and “local” are everywhere. Too bad they are only marketing terms.

So next chance you have, stop by a farmers market for the real thing. Pick out some fruits and vegetables. Come back the same time next week and keep the farmers market revolution going!

Predictions for 2011 Academy Awards

Think what you will of awards shows but I love the Academy Awards for one simple reason: I derive great enjoyment in predicting the outcome. For me it’s the equivalent of making stock trades (which I average a 26% return for the years I’ve been trading and 33% this past year). It requires strategy, a compendium of knowledge, and an understanding for the human condition to do it well. The question is not who should win but who will win and the winning “formula” is a combination of who has won and been nominated for Oscars in the past, who has won at the Golden Globes and other awards ceremonies, the demographics of the voting members of the Academy (which is around 6,000 members and an average age of 50 years old), preferences of influential film critics and groups, unique qualities of the nominees (for example, in the past decade, 8 out of the 10 winning Leading Actresses have been between the ages of 26-40) and what I consider the “esprit de corps” or current public sentiment of the population (I think people genuinely wanted to see James Cameron lose to his ex-wife).

So without further adieu, the envelope please…

LEADING ACTOR: Colin Firth

No surprises here. Firth deserves it. He should have won for A Single Man.

LEADING ACTRESS: Natalie Portman

I loved The Black Swan despite it’s kooky and amateurish hallucinations. It was beautifully shot and kept me intrigued throughout it’s concise 108 minutes and although Annette Benning won Best Actress in a Comedy Film at the Golden Globes, Portman won for Drama, is preggers (I think  this does factor in) and is younger (Hollywood decisively prefers younger over older Leading actresses, unless you’re Meryl Streep).

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christian Bale

He’s mesmerizing in The Fighter. No contest.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Melissa Leo

Out of the four prime acting categories, this is the one in which I’m least confident only because I haven’t seen True Grit nor Animal Kingdom, but Melissa Leo won the Golden Globe and I was genuinely surprised when I did an internet search on her (an image speaks a thousand words) to discover she’s not a working class, chain-smoking actress from Lowell, Massachusetts. I doubt another Precious/Monique “monster” character (Jackie Weaver in Animal Kingdom) who is the other favorite, will win here.

BEST DIRECTING and BEST PICTURE: David Fincher, The Social Network

This is the most hotly contested category. All indicators are pointing towards the Weinstein-produced, The King’s Speech, with Tom Hooper winning the Director’s Guild Award for outstanding directorial achievement in feature film which is the strongest predictor of Best Director winner at the Oscars. Best Direction and Best Picture historically go hand-in-hand and I believe the trend will continue this year. Even though Fincher and Network won at the Golden Globes, a light survey of Academy voters is favoring The King’s Speech and Hooper. I can’t blame them. The acting ensemble is impeccable: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce? All superb. If I was a safe betting woman, I’d go with The King’s Speech and Tom Hooper. But I’m not. The Academy is notorious for “the upset” – at least one category that shocks the populist view, aka the Black Swan Event (not to be confused with delusional, sexually curious ballerinas). Believe me, no one saw Shakespeare in Love beating out Saving Private Ryan, so this is my upset play. I obviously have a bias here, as evidence of the fact that I’ve written twice (here and here) about The Social Network. I’m expecting The King’s Speech to win but to bet on The King’s Speech is to play it safe and I believe the greatest rewards involve an element of risk so I’m going with the movie about a computer geek.

I won’t go into my other 18 predictions but will say a purple nurple is on the line between me and @robotchampion for the losing party. I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts, methods and “algorithms” for predicting the winners. I’d also love to see Watson get into the awards-predicting game…