Replacing hunger with health: a food stamp dilemma

It’s 7:00 on a weekday evening. You’re hungry. You stop by the store on the way home to grab some dinner and decide on a six-pack of Pepsi, a large bag of Lays Original potato chips, a frozen pizza, and a package of DoubleStuf Oreos. Not the healthiest, you admit to yourself, but you’re hungry and want something tasty, convenient, and cheap.


At the cash register you stand behind a couple with a basket of similar items, except they went even cheaper, with off-brand cookies, Ramen noodles, and the six-pack of Coca Cola that was on sale. When he pulls out his wallet to pay, instead of debit or credit, he swipes food stamp card. Wait a second, you think, are my taxes paying for someone to eat cookies and Coke?

You wouldn’t be the first person to think such a thought, and if you pursued it, if you dug beneath the reflexive dismay, you’d find your question spaghettis into many more. Continue reading


Google’s grasp of trends: searches turned data

When someone lays their hands across home row and unleashes the click-click-click of their keyboard, Google is keeping track. Search terms are very revealing. That’s why it is fascinating to see global Google search data compiled. If you want to take the pulse on any number of topics, Google Zeitgeist is your website. What are people buying? Look at Google Product Search input. Where are people going? Investigate Google Maps data.  I could go on about the animated search trend maps and the enticing weekly archives for 2001-2007, but I expect you’ll get to them independently if you make the time-consuming click on Zeitgeist.

The labyrinth of search fads is bound to lead you past some intriguing figures. I followed my instincts and wound up with the elusive American food culture staring at me from a top 10 list. I decided then and there to see what else Google trends could reveal.

In 2010 the fastest rising global food and drink search topics were: Continue reading