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Bringing home the bacon. April 21, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. I just read an article on 24/7 Wall St on “The 10 Fastest Rising Food Prices.” In case you’d like to cut these skyrocketing items off your grocery list (or stock up while they’re still affordable), I thought I’d share them with you. This list applies to the first four years of this decade, so there’s some consistency to the price increases. And this only applies to price increases in the U.S., even though some of the items on the list aren’t grown here.

A final caveat before we get to that list: Like me, you might think it would contain traditional luxury foods like lobster, caviar and truffles. Or increasingly endangered species like sharks and tuna. Or trendy foods espoused by precious Gwyneth Paltrow and her ilk. Or the latest miracle weight-loss berries “as seen on Dr. Oz.” But it turns out that none of this is true. All the foods and beverages on the list are those consumed regularly by American households, guaranteeing that we’re all going to take a hit to our bank balance. Now let’s see what they are:

Bacon, ground beef, oranges, coffee, peanut butter, margarine, wine, turkey, chicken, and grapefruit. The price of bacon has risen 53% in just four years. Yowie kazowie! And of course, just when bacon-with-everything soared in popularity with both chefs and the general public. I like to begin my day with a refreshing glass of half unsweetened grapefruit juice and half mandarin orange sparkling water, and end it with a glass of wine, so I’m taking a double hit from this list. Ouch!

Apparently, supply and demand isn’t to blame in most of these cases. Instead, Mother Nature has stepped in with years of crippling drought in California’s agricultural regions and in the Southwest, cattle country. Coffee plantations in Brazil, the world’s largest coffee exporter, have also been hit by drought, as have peanut growers in Georgia and other parts of the South.

Disease has attacked Florida’s citrus trees, keeping fruit from maturing and ripening. It has also decimated pig populations with Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (eeewww, think about that next time you tuck into some bacon!). There are also crops like limes and avocados that didn’t make the list, but owe their skyrocketing prices to the drug wars in the regions of Mexico where they’re grown.

Connections aren’t always clear: Margarine prices have gone up, for example, because of droughts in corn- and soybean-producing states which provide the vegetable oil from which margarine is made. These states grow the nation’s sunflower supply as well. Which means that I can expect my parrot’s sunflower, cracked corn, and peanut feed mix to go up in price, as well as the bags of black oil sunflower seed I feed my outdoor birds. I can expect my taco shells and Our Friend Ben’s beloved tortilla chips, made of course from corn, to go up. Think about all the things you eat that could be affected by these shortfalls.

Then think about stocking up on the things that keep well (like peanut butter, wine and coffee) and what you could substitute for the things that don’t. And keep an eye out for coupons and sales!

‘Til next time,

Silence

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