'the economy' on Serious Eats

Food Prices Continue to Rise, an International Food Crisis Looms

The last time that food prices were in the news was in 2008, when the food price index soared. These days, we're hearing a lot about the issue once again. Why? Global food prices have surpassed the 2008 peak. The consequences of this persistent rise are yet to be fully realized, yet some are already discussing the imminent possibility of food riots, political unrest, and widespread hunger as a result of pricier food. More

Costco Will Accept Food Stamps Nationwide

According to City Room: "Company executives hope to have food stamp acceptance in place in half the company's 407 warehouse-style stores by Thanksgiving...While the company had once protested that it was difficult to configure its computer systems to accept food stamps—given that Costco sells many other products besides food—Costco has now embraced the idea."... More

The Issues of Street Vending Today

"The first rule of Vendor Fight Club is you don't talk about Vendor Fight Club." Freddy the "King of Falafel" in Queens. [Photograph: Erin Zimmer] What's it like becoming a street vendor? "You get fat and develop arthritis," said Freddy Zeidaies, aka "the King of Falafel," who's built a little kingdom of street meat-loving fans in Queens for almost a decade. Last night, he sat in the audience as a panel of five people (who care and know a lot about street food) debated the future of sidewalk cuisine at the Astor Center in Manhattan. Does it have to be from a cart or truck? Any old contraption? Is the recent boom a direct outcome of a nosediving economy?... More

Federal Minimum Wage Goes Up Today

From $6.55 an hour to $7.25. Many small business owners, including restaurateurs, are worried it will affect their ability to survive the crap economy. Of course, this will help a lot of our friends in the food and beverage industry—if indeed their employers don't claim the tip exemption; those workers' hourly minimum remains frozen at $2.13, same as it has been since 1991.... More

The Organic Milk Business Has Gone Bad: Are You Buying Less Organic Milk?

©iStockphoto.com/cmisje According to the New York Times, the organic milk business has gone bad in a hurry. Are you drinking less organic milk these days, serious eaters? Before we get to the reasons why these farmers are struggling, at least according to Times contributor Katie Zezima, I feel compelled to say that it's this kind of story that demonstrates why we need newspapers to endure. Because without quality institutions like the Times, with its wealth of reporters, editors, and stringers, stories like this might go unreported. Or, at the very least, they wouldn't be made available to the general public. Has anyone read about the plight of these farmers in any other consumer publication, online or in print? Now... More

Responding to Competition, Starbucks Lowering Some Drink Prices

"As it reported a 77 percent drop in quarterly profit, [Starbucks] on Wednesday also said it will adjust its pricing in some markets, raising prices of some of the more complicated drinks, while lowering those on basic drinks. For example, Starbucks will offer a 'grande' size iced coffee for less than $2, shaving as much as 45 cents off the price, depending on the market." [Wall Street Journal]... More

Store Bought vs. Homemade: What's More Cost-Effective?

Jennifer Reese of Slate makes some store-bought staples at home to see if the effort is worth the taste and money. Bagels and yogurt get an enthusiastic "make at home," while homemade cream cheese is expensive and just not the same. She also experiments with jam, crackers, and granola. For more details on cost and taste of the homemade versions, read the rest of the article. Related Hannah's Granola Making Matzo at Daniel in New York City J: Jams, Jellies (and Preserves and Conserves)... More

Balducci's Closing Sale Begins

It's a little weird to buy cheese on sale without triple-checking the expiration date, but the top-quality cheese cases at Balducci's have a 40 percent off sign, preparing for the specialty market's closing April 26. "Other groceries around the store... More

How To Save Money at Supermarkets

The Consumerist shares some tips from Consumer Reports for how to save money at the supermarket—such as choose store brands, use a bonus card, and clip coupons—but the comments from readers on how they save money are more informative and detailed than the post itself. Readers discuss their favorite stores, best store brand items, checking circulars in print and online, and more. What are your tips for saving money at the supermarket? Related Recession Grocery Shopping: What Are You Doing Differently? Where Americans Are Cutting Corners: Food... More

Follow Up: Job Offers Pour in for Hedge Fund Delivery Driver

Looks like there might be a happy ending to the story of Ken Karpman, who went from managing his own hedge fund to pizza delivery driver: First ABC's 20/20 and Good Morning America contacted Ken to do reports. Now Dr. Phil and Oprah are calling. More important, dozens of people have emailed ABC Action News.com reporter Don Germaise - who broke the story - to offer Karpman a job. Karpman says his phone is ringing off the hook and companies from all over the country are writing to offer him positions. Some are not much better than pizza delivery driver,... More

Williams-Sonoma Profit Down 90%

Williams-Sonoma, which also operates Pottery Barn and the West Elm chains, said Tuesday that quarterly profits fell 90 percent, reports the New York Times. They don't expect to see a boost again until the holiday season. Maybe by then people can start justifying that $500 Le Creuset Dutch oven.... More

Recession Candy: When the Going Gets Tough, Do You Buy More Sweets?

In these economic hard times we are experiencing, the New York Times reports that many consumers are turning to good old-fashioned candy to calm their nerves instead of Valium. Many big candy makers are reporting rising sales and surprising profits even as manufacturers of other products are struggling to stay afloat. Cadbury reported a 30 percent rise in profits for 2008 while Nestle’s profits grew by 10.9 percent, according to public filings. Hershey, which struggled for much of 2008, saw profits jump by 8.5 percent in the fourth quarter. According to the story, this surge in candy sales during hard times has a historic precedent. The Great Depression gave birth to many of the most popular candy bars of... More

From Hedge Fund Manager to Pizza Delivery Driver

An interesting story from ABC News. Ken Karpman used to earn $750,000 a year as an institutional equities trader and then started his own hedge fund. After the economic crash, he's a pizza delivery driver. "This whole progression down, it's amazing how many things you say, 'I can't do' and a week later you say, 'Yeah, I could do that,'" he said. "I'm not going to make a career out of this but, until I get something that pays more, this is what I'll do to keep food on the table." It's a bit reminiscent of Michael Gates Gill, the... More

10 Steps to Gardening From Scratch

Photograph from johnm2205 on Flickr Between the economy and an emphasis on locavore eating, people are returning to their roots, literally. (I'll take a lame gardening pun whenever I can.) Here's a great list from a horticulturalist on 10 steps to gardening from scratch. Get a soil test and quit making excuses for not starting the compost bin yet. According to this Yahoo! News report, "the National Gardening Association estimates that a well-maintained vegetable garden yields a $500 average return per year. A study by Burpee Seeds claims that $50 spent on gardening supplies can multiply into $1,250 worth of produce annually." They are being nicknamed "recession gardens," a throwback to the Victory Gardens of World War I and... More

How's the Restaurant Biz Near You?

In today's New York Times Julia Moskin lays out in clinical, terrifying fashion the awful current state of the restaurant biz in New York and the rest of the country. Although Moskin has dug up some truly terrifying statistics (between October 2008 and January 2009, the New York restaurant business lost more than 10,000 jobs, and nationally the restaurant industry has cut more than 100,000 jobs since September), I didn't need to read them to know that things are bad all over. What have you noticed where you live? Here's what I have observed and heard from many well-known chefs and restaurateurs about their collective plight: Servers have bigger stations with more tables and diners to take care of. The... More

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