Food Inflation – Coming Soon to Your Dinner Table

It’s seriously coming, and the best most of us can do is just get sideswiped. I’m talking about food inflation, and it may seem irrelevant to you now, but once the cashier is done ringing you through at your local Try-N-Save and Quickie Mart, the bill is going to blow a hole in your wallet. So what are you going to do, or what can you do?

Summer of 2008

First, a time of reflection. Almost 3 short years ago, we had commodity prices spike to record highs in a number of commodities due to a confluence of factors, most notably stock shortages and crops threatened in key producing regions that under produced due to weather related calamities.

Fortunately, this spike was fairly short lived and we made it out without any real increases. Retailers appeared to be able to absorb increased costs in the short term, and the customer was none the wiser.

Near 3 Years Later

Looking ahead, we will not be so lucky. Stock piles have been dangerously knocked down, weather continues to menace various regions, and inflation is raising prices on all physical goods including oil, which is a key component in planting, harvesting, and getting “things” to the market place.

In fact, in the last year alone after the initial spike in the summer of 2008, core food staples have all one disturbing quality – they’ve risen like a man 15 minutes late for work. Take a look at these common staples and some of the approximate increases they’ve experienced in the last year.

Food Inflation Gone Wild

Wheat: 100%
Corn: 100%
Soybeans: 30%
Oats: 100%
Rice: 85%
Canola: 75%
Cotton: 300%
Orange Juice: 50%
Coffee: 300%
Sugar: 300%
Cocoa: 50%
Oil: 70%

Hmmm. So when the average North American starts their diet with cereal, toast, oatmeal, orange juice, and coffee of which all either contain or add sugar.hmmm. What do you think your breakfast bill is going to look like?

Forget can’t even go to the store and see a grocery cart that is not full of products that contain wheat, corn, and soybeans. Oats are also prevalent, rice is a staple, and canola oil has become increasingly popular. Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world, so your 3-5 cups a day are going to go up at your local coffee shop, and the sugar you add to it. Also, the fact that sugar is in near EVERYTHING, is going to be the final slap.

That’s before we talk about your grain based beer, and your rye/corn whiskey. Double ouch for drinkers and taverns.

So, what do you do?

Change Your Habits

Grow your own food rather than buying it. Eat something other than wheat and corn for your grain, and avoid soybean related products altogether. Cut out sugar, don’t go out for coffee, and eat from the produce aisle and your own garden first. In fact, the very adoption of these habits due to price increases could facilitate the dramatic diet make over that North Americans really need. The gluttony of irradiated grains, sugars, and alcohol have been a prime contributor to the multiple issues we suffer from today so these rising prices, although very painful at the time, could be the silver lining needed to get us out of this death run we have been experiencing over the past 30 years.

I always say, don’t let a good crisis go to waste. It always creates a new and better opportunity. You just need to look for it.

So get your seeds, get them planted, transition from the bread aisle, stop with the sugar, and steer away from the liquor store and you will be better prepared for food inflation in version 2011.12.

See you at the community garden…

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