A Conversation with Jeremy Cherfas on the Eat This Podcast

I spent part of last week in Rome at a conference organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. While there, I sat down with Jeremy Cherfas, who is based in Rome, from where he produces and hosts the Eat This podcast.

Over the course an hour, and my jet-lagged state notwithstanding, we chatted about a number of topics I have been working on these past few years: food prices spikes and food riots, commodity speculators and food crises, quinoa consumption in rich countries and rural livelihoods in the Andes, etc. More broadly, the conversation was about agricultural economics, and what agricultural economists do.

You can listen to (part of) our conversation here (the link opens an .mp3 file).

A Restaurant Tries Third-Degree Price Discrimination for the Common Good

From a story on NPR’s The Salt:

Here’s the concept behind the new chain: Customers walk in and grab a to-go container of pre-made, healthful meals prepared by chefs who’ve previously worked in some of the finest restaurants in LA and New York. [Consumers] can heat up the meals in microwaves at the restaurant, or take them home. And everything is priced affordably–though the price changes, depending on the neighborhood. The goal is to make nutritious food more available to everyone.

The first location opened this summer in South Los Angeles, a low-income area. The next one will soon open in a well-off neighborhood of downtown LA, and there are plans for outlets in other parts of the city. Each location will have the same exact menus and decor, but with different price plans.

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Development Concepts: Nonanonymity

Over the past few weeks I explored some core concepts in development economics. Last week, I discussed the concept of nonseparability. The week before, I discussed heterogeneity. In both cases, my goal was to show that those two phenomena, though they are not completely absent in developed economies, are important in developing countries in that they can cause persistent poverty.

This week, I wanted to talk about nonanonymity. In the stylized Walrasian model, a consumer is a consumer is a consumer and a producer is a producer is a producer, and provided we are talking about a single good, it does not matter who buys what from whom–the price will be the same whether consumer 1 or consumer 2 buys from producer 1 or producer 2. “Anonymity” is a bit of a misnomer here, but it refers to the fact that the identity of the parties to a transaction do not affect the price of that transaction.

In developing countries, however, it is often the case that one’s identity does affect the price of a transaction. For example, in many African cities, it is not uncommon for taxi rides to have two prices: one for locals, and one for foreigners. Continue reading