Nov 24, 2021

Axios Austin

Happy Wednesday, Austin.

πŸŒ₯ Today's weather: Cloudy with a high near 76.

🎧 Sounds like: Bob Marley's "Give Thanks and Praise"

Situational awareness: A friendly reminder that we're off the rest of the week, but you can expect us back in your inbox bright and early Monday. Have a happy Thanksgiving.

πŸ•Ž And if you can't get enough family schmooze time: It's one of those early Hanukkahs this year β€” the Festival of Lights kicks off Sunday night.

  • This year’s theme: The miracle of a single turkey lasting eight additional meals. πŸ˜‰

Today's newsletter is 801 words, a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Inflation hits local food banks where it hurts

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Local food banks are struggling with the strain of backed-up supply chains, inflated grocery prices and increasing gas costs.

Central Texas Food Bank is on track to spend $1 million per month in November and December β€” up from $100,000 monthly on average pre-pandemic, food bank officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: Demand for assistance at the Central Texas Food Bank is expected to spike over the holidays.

  • Inflation is at a 30-year high, and price indexes for meats, poultry, fish and eggs increased 11.9% over the past 12 months. The index for beef rose by 20.1% and pork by 14.1%, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Of note: About 1 in 7 people β€” and 1 in 5 kids β€” are food insecure in the 21 counties the Central Texas Food Bank serves.

How to help: "The best way for folks to help is with monetary donations, as that gives us the most flexibility to purchase what we need, when we need it," CTFB spokesperson Paul Gaither says. "We can turn each dollar donated into four meals for those in need."

Volunteer opportunities β€” and food distribution spots β€” can be found at Gaither says the food bank is looking for volunteers after the new year.


2. Thanksgiving inflation: Turkey feast jumps 14%

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

You'll also be feeling that inflation at your Thanksgiving table, per new estimates by the American Farm Bureau.

Holiday staples have seen an even greater rise than the overall increase in the cost of food, Axios' Sam Baker, Sarah Grillo and Will Chase report.

A 16-pound turkey will set you back about $24 β€” almost $5 more than the average cost a year ago, according to the bureau's informal survey of grocers across the country.

Plus, we wrote about how Central Texas grocers prepared for a shortage of turkeys this year.

Go deeper: Read the full Axios report here

3. 🀠 The Roundup: Lassoing the news

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

πŸ—³ U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert jumped in the crowded race for attorney general, one of at least three Republican primary opponents that Attorney General Ken Paxton has drawn.

  • Meanwhile, state Rep. Matthew Krause has dropped out of the race to run for district attorney in his hometown. (Houston Chronicle)

🏠 Dripping Springs city leaders are extending a moratorium on new home construction. The fast-growing city has one sewage treatment plant. Plans to expand its waste capacity are on hold because they are being challenged by an environmental group. (KXAN)

πŸ‚ Leaders at the University of Texas communications school say they won't change the name of the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations despite racist comments made by Richards last year. (Austin American-Statesman)

🏭 It’s official: Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that Samsung has selected the city of Taylor, about 30 miles northeast of Austin, for its new $17 billion chipmaking plant. (Taylor Press)

4. πŸŽ„ Here comes the Zilker Holiday Tree

The Zilker Holiday Tree, the 155-foot "tree" installed each year at the park, will be illuminated this Saturday.

  • Why we like it: Composed of colored Christmas lights strung from a moonlight tower, the structure is classy, jolly and a throwback to the late 1960s.
  • You can catch the stunning display from 6-10pm each night through New Year's Day.

Know before you go:

😷 Masks are required.

πŸš— Parking is available on-site on a first-come, first-served basis. Expect higher traffic volume on weekends as many park visitors head to the pre-ticketed, drive-thru Trail of Lights, which also kicks off Saturday.

🚷 There is no walk-up or pedestrian access to the Trail of Lights from the Zilker tree area.

5. We asked, you answered: Pumpkin vs. pecan throwdown

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

We thought we were treading noncontroversial ground when we mused out loud in Tuesday's newsletter about pecan vs. pumpkin pie.

  • Boy, were we wrong.

Dozens of you wrote in with strongly felt instincts, including full-throated tear-downs. (It's dangerous out there in pie-land.)

On Team Pumpkin Pie:

  • Cathia G. said obviously pumpkin pie (β€œbut medium on the spices!”): β€œPecan pie is sickeningly sweet and the filling has the texture of grainy jelly β€” ugh!”
  • John Y.: β€œA major advantage of pumpkin pie is how well it goes with a dollop of liqueur-spiked whipped cream.”
  • β€œFor me, my true Thanksgiving moment happens when I have a small slice of pumpkin pie with my coffee on Friday morning,” Deborah W. wrote. β€œI sit in a quiet, clean kitchen with a refrigerator filled with leftovers and am deeply grateful.”

On Team Pecan, Matt R. sent this gem:

β€œIf you want to make a pie out of a misshapen, bulbous gourd β€” head up North. If you want a pie whose wafting, earthy, caramelized aroma will wake up any sleeping uncle during halftime of the Cowboys game β€” go pecan.”

Reader Shane T., trying to stay above the fray, passed along this roundup for how to spruce up your Thanksgiving pie, whatever its ingredients might be.

Read more of Matt R.'s scorn for pumpkin pie

πŸ˜‹ Just to complicate things on the pie front...

Asher's going to put some locally-made, to-die-for Sticky Toffee Pudding on the Thanksgiving table this year. He used to buy the stuff off a folding table at the Republic Square Farmers' Market, before it went big.

🍷 Nicole drove nearly 30 minutes to get a bottle of Dubonnet, one of her grandma’s favorite drinks. Grandma prefers hers over ice and with a slice of orange.

Editor's note: Yesterday's top story incorrectly stated that roughly 68% of Texans have been fully vaccinated for the coronavirus. The number reflects the percentage of Texans vaccinated with at least one dose.

Tell the uncles and aunts at your Thanksgiving meal about how absolutely splendid Axios Austin is. Referring friends can net you an Axios hat, T-shirt or other stocking-stuffer!