Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fighting Food Prices 2011

Photo from The Comsumerist's Photostream

I had planned to cut back on my vegetable garden this year and concentrate my time and energies on making cheese and curing meats. Guess what? With the increasing food prices, it ain't gonna happen!

In 2010 alone, the cost of food increased 25%, with an additional 9.9% in the first 2 months of this year. That's a 35% increase just for food in 14 months, and the EIU is projecting an additional 19% rise this year. Can your food budget withstand a 54% increase? Mine can't!

So yesterday I put off a personal loan payment and ordered vegetable seeds instead. Much of what I ordered is OP (Open Pollinated) Heirloom seed so that I can save seeds for next year. That assumes we have a decent gardening year, which a lot of the world is not expected to have (and that will drive prices even higher).

For a long time, I have encouraged people to Eat Local, to buy from their Farmer's Markets and roadside stands, and to grow a few vegetables in their yards or pots on the balcony. I've encouraged the idea of converting the front lawn into a garden patch studded with fruiting bushes and trees alongside the rows or patches of veggies. This year I think those ideas are becoming imperative for more and more people, except those with their heads in the sand. (I think I've had my own head a little bit in the sand because I had NOT added up the actual food price increases until now. Shame on me!)

As an aside... Our minds do strange things with the thought of nuclear disaster, from denial to running scared... and one of the places my mind went was to row covers for foods growing in my garden. IF airborne nuclear radioactivity falls to earth contaminating our water and soil, what is the possibility that garden rows covered with long hoop housing could mitigate the soil accumulation and allow plants to grow untainted? Frankly, I have no idea... it was just a thought. (I don't have the money to do such a project anyway.)
In much the same way governments worldwide are trying to hide realities to calm fears arising from Japan's nuclear disaster, so are food companies trying to mask the incredible price increases by subterfuge in their packaging. You will find these look-alike packages on the shelves in the stores... they will be from the same manufacturer and look the same, perhaps have a price increase, but the contents will be reduced by the following amounts:

Kellogg Cereal: roughly 15%
Snickers Bars:11%
PepsiCo’s Tropicana OJ: 8%
PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay Chips: 12.5% - 20%
Haagen-Dazs: 12.5%
Chicken of the Sea Tuna: 17%
Kraft Foods’ Saltines and Graham Crackers: 15%
Reese's: 37%
Bounty: 7.2%,
Heinz Ketchup: 11%
American farmers are said to be switching some food acreage into cotton this year because the price of cotton has increased nearly 60% in the last year.

Be assured my tiny vegetable plot will remain planted in vegetables, as long as I feed the soil and the soil will support growth. I'll be posting more on seed starting plus how to make your own seed starting mix in the next few days.


  1. Great post! So sobering ... and while I knew that many food manufacturers were engaging in "creative" food packaging, I think there are still too many who are unaware that it happening. I've never looked at the price, though. I always look at the price per volume when I'm buying my food, and so I saw the price increases. We buy raw cane sugar and the price has increased by more than twenty cents in the past year.

    Like you, I'm planning a big garden, and we'll be raising 50% more chicken this year than last, because we want to be able to share the chicken with family and friends.

  2. I still find it amazing that so few people actually pay attention to what's going on around them/us, other than the price of gasoline.


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