It's in the news all over that food prices are going up. According to the most recent USDA forecast, Consumer Price Index on food has risen 0.4 percent in the last 2 months, and 4.3 percent over the past year. The cost of grain is affecting bread and meat prices; the cost of milk, of course, affects the price of milk and cheese. So the staples of the American family diet are taking a hit.
In New York, the cost crunch is felt in the bagel. Recently, a 100 lb bag of flour has doubled to $40, as reported in the daily paper, am.newyork. Quoting Ed Usset, a grain market specialist, the article states
"North Dakota flour is bagel flour...(h)igh-gluten, high-protein flour for bagels. That crop is essentially sold out, and we're only half-way through the marketing year."Out of bagel flour, he says! Egads! Retail bagels are pushing a $1 in some Manhattan shops, and even a "discount" place like the Park Slope Food Coop has raised its bagel prices. The price of a bagel there (from Terrace Bagels) has risen from a ridiculously low $0.38 to a distinctly more pricey $0.58 in just a few weeks. (That's $7 a dozen, folks.) Can a New York mom really stop buying bagels? It is the perfect, portable stroller food, as any mom of a toddler knows. It is the lunch box option of choice for many city kids. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack--I've served bagels at any time of day as a quick bite, or with all the fixings for a full-fledged meal.
Maybe the bagel bakeries will respond by shrinking the colossal size that the NY bagel has attained in recent years. The bagels have grown from a modest few inch diameter* in the olden days to a puffy, gargantuan size. The new bagels are the definition of carb-overload. We should use this recession and bagel flour shortage as a call to deflate the size of the NY bagel. This would reduce costs for the baker, lower the retail price for the customer, and help improve public health with a widespread reduction in calorie consumption. This could be a win-win for New Yorkers.
Breakfast burning a hole in city pockets, Metro, 01.30.08
Bagel Prices Ballooning Across New York, the gothamist. 02.01.08
Was Life Better When Bagels Were Smaller? NYT, 12.31.03. A classic by Ed Levine.
*"Bagels used to weigh 2 to 3 ounces, with about 200 calories, writes New York University nutrition researcher Lisa Young in her book 'The Portion Teller.'