On my shopping trip last week, I was happy to see that chicken had dropped ten cents per pound, but then I reached for a one-pound package of ground turkey and it jumped twenty cents! While the rising cost of food may be frustrating, there are measures you can take to ease your budget, but why is the cost of food on the rise?
Crops The production of biofuels is a big reason. Farmers see more profit in corn, so they aren’t planting wheat as much. For the first time in our nation’s history we are importing wheat! This corn that the farmers are planting isn’t for your corn-on-the-cob, it’s for making ethanol, corn syrup, cornstarch, and livestock feed, to name a few. Since ethanol has gained popularity the price of corn has increased. We are feeling this increase at the grocery store. If you are buying commercially raised beef and poultry, it has been feed corn. If the cost of the feed is up, then the cost of the end product will go up, the beef, poultry, and pork. This goes for the by-products of chicken and cows also, like milk, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, and eggs. To top it off, if the farmers aren’t planting as much wheat and we have to import it, then our bread products go up and bread is the staple of the American diet. All of a sudden, alternative fuel doesn’t sound like the answer, does it?
(On a side note, I watched King Corn this week and it was wonderful! I highly recommend this to everyone! Educate yourself about the modern farm, what the government’s role in farming is, and how this is affecting the nutrition of our nation. It is available at our local library.)
Fuel America is such a prosperous nation it can afford to import many exotic produce items from other countries and ship items from one end of the country to the other. When you go grocery shopping you may be buying apples from Washington, strawberries from Texas, mangoes from South America, etc. As a result, our bodies and our wallets are not feeling so prosperous. The farther away your grocery items come from, the more fuel it takes to get it to you. With fuel prices increasing, produce prices go up, too. Plus, for fresh produce, the farther it came from, the less nutritional value it has. Often items are picked unripe and ripened in the truck on the way to the grocery store. When produce is picked unripe, it will have very little vitamin and mineral content. In days gone by, all your groceries were grown or raised in your local area.
What do we do? Well, first, have no fear and put your trust in God to provide (Phil. 4:19), secondly, use your grocery money wisely by buying less packaged food, and third, buy as much locally as you can.
Buying packaged food is paying a middleman to prepare it for you, paying with your wallet AND your health. Plus you are paying for more packaging materials - plastic, cardboard, and foil, and more fuel as it has more stops between the farm and the table.
It is healthiest for our economy (and ultimately, for us) to buy as much locally as we can. There are many cooperatives and farmers’ markets around. Check and see what is available in your local area. Here is what is available in the Tulsa area:
Oklahoma Food Cooperative – Many items, like beef and poultry, to fruit and veggies, plus handmade soaps and handicrafts, all direct from the farmers.
Conrad Farms – Bixby area produce farm, plus local honey, cheeses, salsa, jellies, and more.
Carmichael Produce – Bixby area produce farm.
Jenks Farmers’ Market – May through September.
Pearl Farmers’ Market – Tulsa’s only evening market.
Cherry Street Farmers’ Market – two locations, Cherry Street and Brookside
Swan Brothers’ Dairy – Organic, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, raw milk, cream and a selection of cheeses.