Thursday, February 13, 2003


Please excuse the rather long pauses here recently.

The rains finally arrived, a welcome relief. However, with the rain comes unaccustomed gloom that matches too closely much of the news.

There is an interesting column by David Wessel in today's WSJ: "Americans Are Getting Fatter, And Technology Is to Blame" (paid subscription required). He cites a study by Harvard economists David Cutler and Edward Glaeser and graduate student Jesse Shapiro that shows we eat more because food takes less time to prepare, thanks to technological developments such as the microwave and manufacturing processes that allow food to be pre-prepared. For example:
Consider the potato. "Before World War II," the Harvard trio write in a new National Bureau of Economic Research paper, "Americans ate massive amounts of potatoes, largely baked, boiled or mashed. French fries were rare, both at home and in restaurants, because the preparation ... requires a significant amount of peeling, cutting and cooking." Today, french fries are peeled, cut and cooked in factories, then shipped frozen to be reheated in a fast-food fryer or a kitchen microwave. The french fry is now the dominant form of potato in the U.S. Between 1977 and 1995, Americans ate 30% more potatoes, almost all of that in fattening fries or chips.

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