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by Rob Horning

17 Sep 2009

Vox EU posted a study by Neil Gandal about the relationship of obesity to price sensitivity.

Is increasing obesity due to changes in relative food prices? High-energy density foods are less expensive per calorie than fresh fruits and vegetables. Using data from Israel, this column shows that price sensitivity has a significant impact on obesity. In fact, price sensitivity may be more crucial than income…. We find that women who stated that price was not important at all when purchasing food products had a BMI 1.3 units below those who stated that price was “very important.” A reduction of 1.3 units in the BMI for all obese women would move approximately 25% of women who are in the “obese” category to the “overweight” category.

In other words, according to this study, people who are cost-conscious while buying food tend to be fatter, even after controlling for income. (So perhaps commentators should be careful about reflexively linking poor and fat together; fat and cheap is the proper knee-jerk insult combo.) It seems to suggest by implication, too, that being poor doesn’t necessarily make you more cost-conscious about food, which seems a bit hard to believe. Perhaps you don’t self-report as “cost-conscious” when you can’t choose to spend more on food even if you wanted to.

Eating badly can seem like an ignorant thing to do, and conservative types tend to assume that the poor are poor because they are ignorant as well. So it seems to make ideological sense to them that the poor make bad eating choices out of the same supposed myopic ignorance that has made them “choose” poverty. They aren’t forced by straitened circumstances to eat unhealthy food; they choose it. The study could be distorted to support that view. But the study also would seem to suggest that some of the wisdom and economic common sense that the poor are sometimes presumed to lack—being more rational in the marketplace, finding good deals, being thrifty, etc. (the imprudence that allegedly keeps them poor)—is precisely what’s correlated with the unhealthy eating, that bargain hunting and obesity stem from the same miser pathology. What’s clear is that the rationale of the market wreaks havoc on whatever our body might otherwise tell us about what we need nutritionally. We make market-based decisions about what body needs, letting the market dictate those needs, to our body’s detriment.

The context for the study is the proposition of taxes on sugar drinks. Gandal notes that “Drewnowski and Barratt-Fornell (2004) conducted a simple “experiment” in a Seattle supermarket and found that, per calorie, carrots cost virtually five times more than cookies or potato chips, and orange juice costs virtually five times as much as soft drinks.” One of the reasons for this, as Michael Pollan has argued and as Gandal notes, is U.S. agricultural policy:

Between 1985 and 2000, fruit and vegetable prices in the US increased by about 40%, while the price of soft drinks dropped by 23%. These seem like large changes in relative prices. According to Pollan, the change in relative prices is in large part due to the US farm bill, which provides generous subsidies for corn and soy, which are prime ingredients in high-density “processed food.”

The Economist‘s Free Exchange blogger puts the findings in perspective and makes a good point: the U.S. should take on the irrational agri-subsidies first before levying nanny-ish taxes on unhealthful consumer behavior.

by Katharine Wray

17 Sep 2009

Robin Guthrie
Releasing: 28 September

01 Some Sort of Paradise
02 Sparkle
03 Delight
04 Close My Eyes And Burn
05 Search Among The Flowers
06 Mission Dolores
07 Autochromes
08 The Girl With The Little Wings
09 Waiting By The Carousel
10 Little Big Fish

Robin Guthrie

Sparkle [MP3]


by Matt Mazur

17 Sep 2009

In 2002, Moore was considered a heavy favorite to win the Oscar for her excellent lead work as Cathy Whitaker in Todd Haynes’ Far from Heaven or her equally powerful supporting in Stephen Daldry’s The Hours as Laura Brown. Joining a list that includes Emma Thompson and Sigourney Weaver, she went home empty-handed that fateful night.

Deja-vu: watch out for her upcoming two-category sweep in 2010: First up is a much-discussed lead turn in Atom Egoyan’s Chloe, a sexually-charged drama in which Moore’s tony doctor hires an escort (Amanda Seyfried) to bed her husband. Remember that nobody does “sexually-charged” quite like Moore. This is the woman who gave us Boogie Nights’ Amber Waves and the tawdry, delicious Savage Grace last year, after all.

Then comes the pièce de résistance for the awards season: Moore’s supporting turn in designer-turned-film director Tom Ford’s A Single Man, opposite Colin Firth as a gay man who has just lost his long-time lover.

by Faye Rasmussen

17 Sep 2009

It seems inevitable that if you haven’t heard of the Scottish band Glasvegas, you probably will soon. Their self-titled debut album was released in January of this year, and had been nominated for the Mercury Prize for best album of 2009, though it lost to Speech DeBelle’s Speech Therapy. Tack on live performances on Carson Daly and Craig Ferguson, playing a set at Lollapalooza and it’s no wonder they found themselves touring with U2 only a handful of months later. To finish up the year, Glasvegas is currently touring with Kings of Leon throughout Canada and some parts of the U.S (dates after the jump).

Yesterday, the band released their second U.S. single, “It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry”. The single, which Bono declares is “one of the best songs [he’s] ever heard”, comes paired with a video which features a more intimate look into the mind of lead singer James Allan as he contemplates his inner quarrels with love:

by Katharine Wray

17 Sep 2009

The Feelies, an influential new wave band from the ‘80s, reunited in 2008, and for much of 2009 they’ve been playing shows all across the United States. To coincide with a performance at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in New York, the band has rereleased Crazy Rhythms and The Good Earth.

Though they were never hugely popular, The Feelies were a big part of the indie music scene in the 1980s. Michael Stipe of R.E.M. has listed the band as one of his influences. Named after a pleasure device in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, The Feelies do just that: provide musical pleasure. Album details down below.

The Feelies

Let’s Go [MP3]


//Mixed media

'Steep' Loves Its Mountains

// Moving Pixels

"SSX wanted you to fight its mountains, Steep wants you to love its mountains.

READ the article