Tuesday, July 17, 2012

$ Gas > $ Lobster

Not too long ago, on a sunny morning on the edge of New England, as we prepared for a long bay hugging bike trail, a morning news report lamented that there had been a huge surplus of lobsters harvested of late and the falling price was causing lobster-fishermen and women considerable angst. Now, in our family, mussels, clams and calamari make regular appearances for special occasions, like Christmas Eve; however, lobster is a rarity saved for very special times and usually consumed at a restaurant.  At least to me, it had always been the more expensive shellfish and outside the edge of responsible shopping. Plus, we like mussels, clams and calamari a lot and you can stretch them to feed a crowd with some pasta! 

As I noted yesterday, we did our part to help the lobster fishing industry after our 30 mile (it was a flat, paved rail trail/bike path) trek; however, the whole falling lobster price situation got me wondering about the cost of lobster and gas over time. 
This article in the Bangor Daily News  reported that the current price that lobstermen (their term not mine, I would call them lobster men and women) are getting is less than $2 per pound!  For many years, the price has hovered around $4 per pound.  It has not been below $2 since the mid 1970's!  In the world of lobster fishing, it would appear that time has been "rolled back."  However, during those same years, the price of diesel fuel to run the boats has certainly NOT gone down.  Diesel fuel now costs 10 times what it did in the mid 1970's. 

I did a little more research on the internet and at a site called the Hobnob Blog they describe how the price of lobster meals rose faster than inflation starting in the 1860's until the late 1920's.  "In the 1930's and 1940's the inflation-adjusted price fell but from the 1950's to the 1970's it again exceeded inflation. In years since then the inflation-adjusted price has remained stable or fallen slightly."
"Before the 1880s, it was unusual to see lobster on menus," said Jones. "It was considered trash fish that people didn't want."  The authors of Hobnob Blog quote a 2005 Census on Marine Life, "Before the 1880s, it was unusual to see lobster on menus. It was considered trash fish that people didn't want."

So in today's Slice of Life, I first want to admit to that I have been wrong to restrict lobster eating to very special occasions and will do my best to help the cause of lobster fishermen and women. In addition, I am encouraging everyone (who is not allergic to shellfish) to increase their consumption of lobster to help the cause of the lobster fisher men and women up and down the coast. Even if it has been a long time for you (like it was for me) you will quickly remember the taste and the joy of a delicacy that we certainly do not want to end up in the trash!

Besides, other than mortgage rates, what else has gone down in cost like that?
And, buying a few lobsters is still a whole lot cheaper than buying a house!

PS Do you remember what a stamp cost in 1970?
PPS Notice I scanned the SOL archives to find a red image for this week's lobster SOL :)



Anonymous said...

Last week my mother's friend came to visit her and we all went to a museum. For a souvenir, my mom bought some magnets that showed the price of things in their birth years. She has been having great fun sharing that, laughing and lamenting over it!

Donna said...

Being from Maine and having this directly affect many, many of those around me, this is a very serious issue.
Don't buy at a restaurant or big company. Go to the docks, buy direct, stay locally owned, find a lobsterman. This has a more immediate positive financial effect on the lobsterman's family. Prices look the same on a menu as they did last year. But the handwritten whiteboard signs on the side of the road are lower.

fireflytrails said...

This is important information. As a lobster lover, I'll follow your good advice. Thanks for letting us know.

writekimwrite said...

This was enlightening. I think I will revisit my lobster views as well.

BK said...

I'm not a shell fish eater but I do applaud you lobster activism. ENJOY!

Amy Rudd said...

Wow, who knew that this was the state of lobster industry...thanks for giving pause to think about the state of the lobster industry. I'll try and remember this when I am ordering yummies on vacation soon!

wakeupandwrite said...

Lobster is still the priciest thing on the menu here in the Pac NW. And our gas is the most expensive too.