A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Friday, November 10, 2017

No Wonder We're Fat!

Factoids on Parade!

"Food inflation hit an 18-year high in April [2008], with grocery prices rising 1.5 percent for the month, the government said Wednesday. Prices rose in every aisle--dairy, breads, meats, beverages, fruits and vegetables. It means $53 more a month to feed a family of four with a typical food budget."
-- Pioneer Press of St. Paul, MN
05/15/2008 06:59:05 AM CDT

So, let's see what that means. If an an increase of 1.5% means an increase of $53 per month,
then 1.5% of X = $53 and X = $53/1.5%

So, the average MONTHLY food budget for a family of four in 2008 was X = 53/0.015 = $3,533.33

This means the average family of four was spending 12X = $42,400/yr on food, which is more than the average family was bringing home.

TOF was not sure whether to classify this under
  • fake news
  • stats
  • fun facts
  • The madness continues
Or perhaps even
  • we're all gonna die!


  1. Do you have a "remedial math required for every journalism" heading? Because clearly that's where this should be filed.

  2. TOF,

    Do you think what CNN reported in May 2008 was more accurate and possibly what the Pioneer Press meant:

    "Fruit and vegetable prices rose 2% in April, and bread prices increased 1.5% in the month. The cost of bread was 14.1% higher than the year-ago period."

    CNN also reported: "Seasonally adjusted food prices rose 0.9% on a month-over-month basis in April, making it the biggest jump in 18 years, according to the Labor Department. Last month's food costs were 5.1% higher than in April 2007."

    Pioneer Press goofed overall.

  3. That's nothing, just look at the spending habits of millennials on food!

    In case that doesn't show up right, their headline was "Average millennial spends $96 billion on food."

  4. This explains why we’re poor, too.

  5. Could welfare explain the difference?

  6. I'm betting "stupid abuse of stats."

    A typical food budget is not to be confused with grocery prices in general-- for starters, if cheese goes from six bucks a block to six ten a block, I won't care, but if beef goes from twenty bucks a pack to twenty two I won't.

    ....I'm not so great at years, but wasn't that when dozens of herds were WIPED OUT by flooding up north?

    1. *sigh*
      from twenty bucks a pack to twenty two I won't BUY.

  7. My favorite completely-ridiculous statistic was the claim that, if all the world's food were equally distributed, each person would have a daily intake of 266 calories.

  8. I wondered whether the 1.5% might not be an annualized figure -- but had it been annualized by the common dodge of multiplying monthly rate by twelve, de-annualizing it would make the food expenditure twelve times more ridiculous.  Turning tenacious, I wondered whether both the 1.5% and $53 figures might be annualized.  This makes for a less outlandish outlay for food but 1.5% annual inflation is not particularly record-setting or newsworthy -- didn't we run 4-6% back in the Great-Society-plus-Vietnam-War-plus-No-Tax-Increase days? 

    Did some innumerate reporter/editor combo get their monthlies and annuals hopelessly entangled?  Did a decimal point make like a transposon?  Did someone have a political axe to grind?  2008 was an election year, but May seems a little early in the cycle to be firing a factoid round.  Hmmm . . . further thought required . . . (but not necessarily merited)

    Occasional Correspondent


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