AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: The Economics of Cooking DATE: 1/15/2010 06:00:00 AM ----- BODY:

If I recall correctly from my micro-economics class, pricing in a competitive marketplace is set by “supply and demand”. A greater demand for a product will command a higher price. And by contrast, a greater supply will lower the price. The supply and demand model finds the equilibrium between these two forces to set the price. Whole Foods is defying all models by selling beef tenderloin for $28 (!!) a pound. How could there possibly be any demand at that price??

Certainly no demand from me, despite a craving for the buttery texture and flavor from this prime cut.

Instead, I found an alternative source for beef tenderloin (a local place like Costco). The only hitch is that I have to purchase the full cut and trim it myself. At $10.50 per pound, it seemed worth the “extra” effort. It doesn’t take much to trim a beef tenderloin – I need to pull of the chain (a side muscle that is not as tender, but plenty flavorful), and trim off the silver skin – a thin, shiny membrane that covers the muscle. When it’s cleaned, I cut it into individual portions. And now that I’ve cleaned out the freezer a bit, I have room for more “leftovers.”

photo credit: Scott Phillips

The silver skin goes into the dog-bowl, and the chain goes into the meat grinder. In the end, it cost me $15 per pound for fully trimmed beef tenderloin, with a bonus pound of ground beef.

The beef tenderloin was used for the Beef En Rollo. I added the ground beef to a jar of tomato sauce for a quick Bolognese.

If you look closely at the photo, you may notice two kinds of pasta in the bowl – fusilli and orecchiette. I had about a half serving of pasta in each box. In the spirit of using up leftovers, I combined the two. Of course, they didn’t cook at the same rate… the orecchiette required 14 minutes, and the fusilli 12. So I put the orecchiette in the boiling water, set the timer for 2 minutes, and then added the fusilli. From there, I cooked it 11 minutes more. Yes, that’s one minute less than the recommended cooking time. I like to finish cooking the pasta in its destination sauce – I find the pasta absorbs more of the flavor and the sauce clings better.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:1/15/2010 07:45:00 AM I think there is always a savings when a smart cook gets involved in preparation (and the dish looks pretty yummy, too)! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous noble pig DATE:1/15/2010 11:31:00 AM I have always bought my tenderloin there...why not right! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:1/15/2010 11:47:00 PM The little bit of time you spend trimming is well worth the outcome, and you have the satisfaction of knowing you did not support Whole Foods' ridiculous pricing scheme. Shame on them. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Lori Lynn DATE:1/17/2010 02:05:00 PM Their ground sirloin is expensive too. But I really like their produce!

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