Food Prices: One Year After
Furthermore, fraud has gotten harder ever since benefits have been issued on electronic-benefit transfer cards, which operate like debit cards at the grocery store. What’s more, drawbacks to doling out cash are real and fly in the face of the moral component of receiving a government benefit. Aid comes with strings attached as part of the goal of inducing behavior that’s deemed socially beneficial. That’s why food stamps can’t be used to buy tobacco or alcohol. If a cash handout is easier for a store to administer, the same is true for a cash benefit used to buy dope on the street. Yes, there is an element of paternalism in food stamps. Yet it’s hard to justify the government using taxpayer money to subsidize iPhone purchases instead of spending on a necessity such as food. And what about those parents who lack the discipline or willingness to make good decisions? Food stamps prevent them from shifting spending on food for their children to other less-essential goods. If we want to alter the food-stamp status quo, a better idea is to cut the program and roll the money into an expanded earned-income tax credit, which provides a tax refund that’s especially valuable for working couples with kids. The credit has fewer negative incentives and seems to encourage work. As for those who are elderly and disabled, money from food stamps could be shifted to other programs, such as Social Security.
But enough with the excerpts, right? If you want the whole story, you have to read the full reviews. So click through the slideshow to see what some of America’s top chefs said about the nation’s most well-known critics. 22.) Brad A. Johnson, The Orange County Register, 1.62 Stars 21.) Steve Cuozzo, New York Post, 1.77 Stars 20.) John Mariani, Esquire and Bloomberg, 1.88 Stars 19.) Josh Ozersky, TIME, 2.11 Stars 18.) Craig Laban, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 2.18 Stars 17.) Alison Cook, Houston Chronicle, 2.35 Stars 16.) Alan Richman, GQ, 2.39 Stars 15.) Adam Platt, New York Magazine, 2.41 Stars 14.) Gael Greene, Foodie.com, 2.413 Stars 13.) Phil Vettel, Chicago Tribune, 2.47 Stars 12.) Tim Carman, Washington Post, 2.56 Stars 11.) Robb Walsh, Houstonia Magazine, 2.59 Stars 10.) S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times, 2.61 Stars 9.) Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue, 2.62 Stars 8.) Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly, 2.81 Stars 7.) Andrew Knowlton, Bon Appetit, 2.82 Stars 6.) Pete Wells, The New York Times, 2.99 Stars 5.) Corby Kummer, The Atlantic, 3.12 Stars 4.) Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle, 3.16 Stars 3.) Brett Anderson, The Times-Picayune, 3.2825 Stars 2.) Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, 3.2875 Stars 1.) Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles Times, 3.44 Stars 1Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles Times, 3.44 Stars Anne Fishbein/The Daily Meal For the second year running, the Los Angeles Times Jonathan Gold took the top spot on the list of critics and food writers surveyed by dozens of chefs, and he did that while garnering almost a half star more than he did in 2012, and even fewer dissenting comments. Consider what chefs said about Gold: “Always a pleasure.” “Has the most common sense of any critic.” “An individual in every sense of the word. Awesome palate and curiosity.” “Definitely keeps current with dining trends.” “One of the best.” “Love Jonathan and his writing; he is down to earth, smart, and real.” “I think Jonathan is a cool dude.” Comments about Golds prose style included a chef who said, “He cracks me up. He is so passionate, even-keeled, informative, and that dude can write! He makes me want to eat at whatever joint he writes about tomorrow.” Described by one chef as “honest as the day is long,” Golds integrity was heralded as “uncompromising (hes totally his own person).” And sharing a meal? “That would be so fun,” said one chef. So there you have it: according to chefs, Jonathan Gold is Americas smartest, most talented, and most likeable critic or food writer. Fourth place in perceived integrity, Jonathan? Slacker.
Top chefs review America’s toughest food critics
(As with any price/earnings ratio calculation, the actual number depends on what earnings figure you use: historical earnings, a calendar year, a trailing 12-month period, etc.) Let’s be clear: These are lavish valuations for companies whose business is preparing and dishing up such mundane fare as sandwiches and stir-fried noodles. For some context, let’s look at the valuation of Starbucks ( SBUX ) which, whatever you think of the caliber of its coffee, can be said to have popularized the idea of the barista and custom-brewed java and thus transformed the American urban experience. If you glance back over the company’s history, there are only a couple of times that Starbucks’s P/E ratio has topped 100, most recently when its earnings faltered during the last recession. Some might contend that I’m understating the power of a brand. No, I’m not. Here I’ll defer to investment manager Jeffrey Gundlach, who honed his skeptical instincts as a bond market investor. “A gourmet burrito is an oxymoron,” the exasperated Gundlach told listeners at last May’s Ira Sohn conference (a showcase for hedge fund managers to pitch their best long and short ideas). Gundlach, explaining his bearish view on Chipotle Mexican Grill ( CMG ), argued that “all you need to compete with its core business is a taco truck.” And the business of taco trucks and other food trucks is booming. Recent research by London-based Companies and Markets suggests that “street food” as a whole a segment of the market made up almost exclusively of food trucks is now worth $11.6 billion in the United States and has outperformed the traditional fast dining establishments. These are low-cost businesses to launch and operate, often run by savvy entrepreneurs who use social networking to spread the word about where they’ll be parked this lunch hour. (In many cities, you can track your favorites on Twitter.) Even if the consumer fascination with this phenomenon fades and the hectic recent growth rates subsides, as Companies and Markets predicts, food trucks will remain a source of competition for the likes of Chipotle Mexican Grill and Potbelly.
The FAO Food Price Index has fallen for the last five months and cereal prices are around 20 percent lower than in August 2012 thanks to a better supply outlook and healthier stock levels. FAO is forecasting an 8 percent increase in world cereal production this year. Higher production allows for rebuilding of stocks, which had fallen to historically low levels. An expected 13 percent increase in world cereal closing stocks should drive up the global stock-to-use ratio to 23.3 percent, the highest since 2003. If the expected increases in stock-to-use ratios are confirmed, then the markets will have greater resilience to any shocks and price volatility should be restrained It is also important to recognize the role of global governance in this positive development, by increasing transparency, market information and helping control factors that had led to price spikes before. The Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) played an important role in making this happen. Set up by the G20 in 2011 with a multi-agency secretariat hosted by FAO, AMIS provided timely and reliable information, increasing transparency in the international food market and assuring better coordination between the main players to reduce market instability and unilateral action. The United Nations System also granted the issue high priority. The UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Task Force on Global Food Security repeatedly and energetically called for calm and coordination, contributing to contain price increases. The reformed Committee on World Food Security — that will session starting Monday October 7 — has proven its value as the most inclusive forum to discuss food security and, in a landmark achievement, endorsed last year the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security . Among many other initiatives, last October FAO hosted a ministerial summit to discuss food prices, co-organized with the Government of France who played a leading role in establishing AMIS. In 2007-8, increased use of maize for biofuel production was pressuring food prices, excessive speculation on futures markets accentuated price volatility and panic buying and export restrictions led to prices spinning out of control. But, in 2012, these elements were generally controlled and good sense prevailed in markets. The importance of linkages between food and energy markets has been recognized and the costly biofuel policies implicated in pushing up food prices in recent years are being questioned in a number of countries, including the USA. In another change, widespread public outrage over excessive speculation with food prices led many banks to review their positions and made some of them publically renounce that practice.