I’m not much of a gourmand, but I do love to play with food. Well, food data, anyway. So when I happened upon the Food System Factoids blog, I totally pigged out. The menu may not be for everyone, but if you have a craving for analyses of food pricing trends, or evaluations of carbon emissions from US agriculture, you’ll find plenty to satisfy.

Take, for instance, this post on the relative change in prices of soft drinks and processed fats vs. fruits and veggies. The data’s a bit old now, but what a story. From 1985 to 2000, the real, inflation-adjusted cost of fresh fruits and veggies went up almost40 percent, while the costs of soft drinks went down by nearly a quarter.

Food Prices - 350Putting the numbers in context: a dollar’s worth of coke in 1985 cost just over 75 cents in 2000. But a dollar’s worth of apples or broccoli rose to almost $1.40.

So the incentives are pretty clear: given that median incomes didn’t rise that much over that period, and poverty rates remained constant, there were quite a few folks who pretty much had no choice but to trade apples for Coke. No wonder North Americans (including Cascadians) grew so much heavier over the period.