Pity comments on assorted links

Food has replaced music at the heart of the cultural conversation for so many, and I wonder if it’s because food and dining still offer true scarcity whereas music is so freely available everywhere that it’s become a poor signaling mechanism for status and taste.

There's been a lot of coverage of Consumer Report's tests for bacteria in conventional and "sustainable" beef.  Take, for example, this Washington Post article.  The article seems to be mixing a bunch of concepts.  There are antibiotic resistant bacteria (aka “super bugs” – though they’re not resistant to all types of antibiotics), which is what they found less of in the “sustainable” beef.  And then there are bacteria that *can* product toxins.  Cooking can kill the bacteria but not the toxin, but the study didn’t actually test for the toxins (only the bacteria-producing toxins).  As best I can tell, there were similar levels of these types of bacteria in both types of beef (actually, they don’t discuss levels at all but only % of samples detected with the presence of the bacteria regardless of amount).  In any event, the toxins typically don’t get produced unless the beef is left out for a while at unsafe temps.

These public health researchers propose a cap-and-trade type system for calories.  The authors are never really very clear about the underlying source of the externality they're attempting address (negative or positive) and why calories get at the heart of it.  Moreover, what of those in the world who get too few calories?

Interesting article in Choices by James McDonald on the extent of contracting in agriculture.  I was surprised to read that use of contracting decreased in recent years for many commodities.  Wu and McDonald subsequently discuss related market power issues in the same outlet.