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The economics of meat.

February 18, 2011

Via Slate’s twitter account, I came across Tyler Cowen’s post about the economics of meat, quoting from Simon Fairlie’s book, Meat: A Benign Extravagance. Granted, I haven’t read the book [yet], but the quote here seems problematic:

People need their pound of grain a day, but they don’t need much more, and they won’t buy any more unless they have sufficient wealth to invest the grain in animals, either to produce higher value food, or else to keep it “on the hoof” for a rainy day (or a drought).

I’ll have to read the book to see if Fairlie addresses this argument, but my initial reaction as a non-economist is: what is the distinction between meat/livestock as storage of surplus grain vs. alcohol/other preserved forms of grain? I imagine there’s a nutritional argument to be made, but it’s not evident from the quote given. In any case, I think it is not that controversial to argue that there are significant social costs/benefits to be considered in the production/consumption of alcohol.

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