Photo: FotoosVanRobin, Flickr
Here's a question for all you Freakonomic's fans out there: what do this week's stultifying heat indexes across much of the country have to do with the price of pork bellies?
If you answered that both are at or near record highs, then you get a gold star (you deserve something if you know the price of pork bellies). But you get two gold stars if you answered something along the lines of what was reported in Monday's Wall Street Journal...
On the list of foods that immediately conjure the taste of summer -- strawberries, peaches, watermelon, etc -- bacon is probably about as far down on the list as pumpkin pie. But, when the mercury is knocking on 95 and you want to get out of the kitchen as fast a possible, what do you turn to? A good old B.L.T.
The rest of the answer is straight out of Econ 101: the basic law of supply and demand. Americans' demand for bacon surges in the summer, hence driving up the price of pork bellies, from which bacon is made. But this year, the price of pork bellies is setting records -- Monday's price was $1.35 a pound, 53 percent higher than a year ago.
Why? Because hog farmers responded to the recession during the past couple years by reducing the size of their herds. To come full circle with the heat-hog connection, pigs take longer to reach their market weight when the weather is hot.
So if you want cheaper bacon, you might consider driving less. After all, the carbon emissions from your car contribute to global warming, global warming raises the temperatures, and apparently, pigs lose their appetite in the heat.
Now that's some freaky Freakonomics.