You probably missed the New York Times column last week exploring the upside of inflation. Understanding what Democrats and their supporters need to hear right now, the Times delivered Annaliese Griffin’s op-ed column “You Want to Buy Meat? In This Economy?”
Like a bad cold contracted by a cigarette smoker, inflation presents a good opportunity to lose a bad habit. Griffin observes: “Meat, poultry, fish and eggs now cost 14.3 percent more than they did a year ago.”
What has gone wrong? Griffin does not want to know how we got here. Rather, Griffin presents the opportunity food inflation presents for you, the reader, to reform your diet in the interest of Gaia:
Inflation has the potential to drive welcome change for the planet if Americans think differently about the way they eat. While hunger and food insecurity are a very real problem in the United States and globally, middle- and upper-class Americans still have more choices at the grocery store than perhaps any food shoppers in history. Climate change has motivated some to eat less resource-intensive meat and more vegetables, grains and legumes, but this movement has not reached the scale necessary to bring needed change — yet.
The Free Beacon’s Andrew Stiles translates Griffin: “[I]ncreasingly unaffordable food prices might just be the catalyst climate activists are seeking. Because at the moment one suspects the word ‘some’ vastly overstates the actual number of Americans whom ‘climate change has motivated’ to adjust their diets. Some New York Times readers, perhaps.”
Drawing on American history, Griffin seems to promote the possibilities afforded by coercive government action before she concludes with a preview of coming attractions. Coming soon, according to Griffin, the new freedom:
[O]ur food spending can be modified more easily than what we pay at the gas pump. We do not have to become, overnight, a nation of vegetarians and vegans, but we could adjust what we eat to save both our pocketbooks and our planet.
While poor and food-insecure households are already stretching their grocery budgets as far as they will go, shoppers with more choices have the relative luxury to see inflation as the nudge they need to go meatless at lunch or twice a week — or to simply break out of the slab-of-meat-with-two-sides mold that has composed the American plate for decades.
The inflation of the period between the Gilded Age and World War I gave Americans a taste for peanut butter, pasta and stews and casseroles graced with but not dependent on meat. The 1970s brought us brown rice, granola, exciting vegetables like eggplant and zucchini, and every conceivable way to prepare a lentil. Freed from having meat in every meal and with a world of recipes at our fingertips, what will the delicious culinary legacy of this inflationary period be?
Free at last!
If the column hadn’t appeared on the editorial pages of the New York Times, one might suspect that someone is putting us on.