Archive | August 2013

Alcatraz Menu 1946

If you wanted to, and why wouldn’t you? eating well in Alcatraz wasn’t that hard. This menu from 1946 shows food that is cheap, nutritious and hard to fuck up. Old school to be sure but a step up from the institutional garbage in today’s schools, never mind prisons.
Inside Scoop SF:

we thought we’d take the opportunity to run a very cool menu from Alcatraz. Pictured below is a copy of the weekly Alcatraz menu from September 2 to September 8, 1946.

And oddly, it doesn’t look half bad. There are three solid meals a day, each mostly different from the day before; that’s more than most restaurants can say. Breakfast dishes include daily coffee, cereals and/or canned fruits; Thursday was hot griddle cake day. Later in the day, a daily changing soup was available alongside things like roast pork shoulder with sage dressing, chili con carne, corned beef with cabbage, and bacon jambalaya. They even had desserts like apricot pie (!), layer cakes, orange Jello and cupcakes.

Compare that to San Quentin’s modern day culinary offering, which one Yelper described as such: “foods [sic] crappy except for friday which is chicken on the bone day..and sunday morning is the microwavable-like grand slam breakfast.” (Yes, San Quentin has a Yelp page for some reason; three nonsensical stars)

Via Open Culture

Revealed Preference and GMO’s

Steve Holt has an article at Take Part on public opinion and GMO labeling. Long and short, unsurprisingly, when asked nearly everyone says that they are in favor of labeling. But what does that really tell us?

Economists have a pair of concepts: stated preference and revealed preference that say a lot about this issue:

Revealed preference theory, pioneered by American economist Paul Samuelson, is a method for comparing the influence of policies on consumer behavior. These models assume that the preferences of consumers can be revealed by their purchasing habits.

It’s very easy to tell a pollster that you want something and another to put a little effort into it. The stated preference is that people want labeling. The revealed preference; judging from the shelves at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, two chains whose customers are ostensibly the most passionate about the issue and whose supply chain is in the best position to be responsive to these demands; shows that people apparently don’t really care that much about labels. Enough to say yes to a pollster or sign a petition, but not enough to change their shopping habits. Markets aren’t perfect, but one thing they do really well is match consumer goods to consumer preference. Clearly producers in the natural and health segment of the market don’t see a enough demand to respond to the most motivated anti-GMO consumers or it wouldn’t take Whole Foods until 2018 to shift their product mix over.

I’m not shy about calling for regulation, but I want as little as possible and I don’t see why this is problem the market wouldn’t solve if people were really motivated. When US consumers wanted to cut fat out of their diets in the 80’s an 90’s the market was more than happy to give them what they wanted. If enough people really cared about GMO labeling, the suppliers who cater to that market segment would be bending over backwards to respond.