(Food) Price Index to All-Time High

grainlady_ksJune 17, 2014

...for Meats, Poultry, Fish & Eggs (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Something I'm sure we are all aware of, but I found the graph by-year interesting, and I had a few thoughts about "remember when".......

My Price Book (where I track prices of food items I purchase most frequently) has a lot of changes in the last few years, especially with so many items being hit by the "shrink-ray" (the size of many cans/jars/packages are much smaller), so I have to recalculate the unit prices.

I went through the Price Book just the other day and completely removed a number of items I just never purchase anymore because they just don't fit in the food budget, and added some new ones that do. Conserving and preserving seem to be more important than ever on a fixed food budget. To date, I've spent $629.83 for groceries this year (for 2 adults) - so I'm above my $100/month goal I set at the first of the year. Hopefully, I make up for that the next few months while the garden is in full swing. :-)


Here is a link that might be useful: CNS News

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Living standard is rising rapidly in many developing countries. Food from China. Thailand. India are not cheap anymore.

Bad weather here and animal diseases, etc. -----

We will not be seeing food prices getting lower.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 7:19PM
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Climate change, global trade, and commodities futures trading is inexorably changing the world. In the US we may have a bumper crop, and not notice that crops were decimated in India, China, etc, but just like a supply disruption in Iraqi oil sends up the global crude oil price, we see our food commodity prices riding. Plus, as dcarch said, the developing world is becoming the developed world and they want to eat more meat just like developed countries do.

Agricultural technology can help - farming and the supply chain in China and India are dreadfully inefficient. Conservation can help - the amount of waste from farm to fork is shocking.

But ultimately, if the desired aim is for the poorest child on our planet to have enough food and to enjoy what we in the USA take for granted - as I feel it should be - the end result will be for the wealthiest of us, which means pretty much everyone in the developed countries, to consume just a little less meat and just a little more vegetable.

I'm fine with that. My waistline tells me that I'd better be.

The enjoyment of food is about flavor, texture, beauty, scent. Not bulk, not volume. The 12 oz ribeye steak, indifferently prepared, gray and flabby, gives me a fraction of the pleasure I get from the 6 oz bavette, crusty-brown and juicy. At the end of the day, we all - okay, 99% of us - can get all the calories we need and more, for very little money. I'm happy to enjoy the 1/4 carat diamond instead of the 2 carat cubic zirconium.

For the last few years, I've enjoyed cooking the less undesirable cuts of meat. Shank, chuck, foot, back, spleen, heart, liver. Okay, I'm also quite cheap and that's what is cheap at the Asian market. I can afford "better": I choose this. It is a challenge, the flavor is incredible, and it makes me more hopeful about our collective future.

I'm going to start a thread. It will be about cooking the offal and discards from the butchering process. Let me think about it a bit. It will be fun. I know dcarch and annie will have a lot to say.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 7:51PM
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John, I absolutely agree and have been on my soapbox here more than once about how we just eat way too much meat. If a third generation beef farmer thinks we eat too much beef, maybe it's something to think about.

We keep asking for bigger and bigger portions, we need half pound burgers and 32 ounce steaks and half a chicken. (sigh) Restaurant goers would squawk if their plates were filled with broccoli instead of large chunks of meat covered with copious amounts of cheese.

I use the offal, the oxtail, the shanks, the chicken feet and pig trotters, because I raise the animals. It seems wasteful and disrespectful to the animal which died to sustain me to do differently.

Many of the cuts which were traditionally less desirable are now becoming more popular and thus, more expensive. Oxtail used to be less than $1 a pound and soup bones were often free at the local butcher, now oxtail is $7 or $8 a pound and no one has a free soup bone. Even the ones for sale are devoid of all meat.

Meanwhile, the cost of gas continues to rise, driving up the cost of shipping food from one end of the country to another. Drought in the West and even here in Michigan has compromised the hay market, a round bale that cost me $20 three years ago cost me $70 this winter. And that fuel price runs my tractors and balers too, more cost. The beef herd is smaller than it's been since the 50s and the PED epidemic is killing piglets by the millions. (sigh) Farming has been hard the last couple of years, including the longest and coldest winter in my memory. So, the price of everything must rise. Those milk cows are eating that expensive hay and pasture wasn't viable until last month. Heck, my water didn't thaw at the farm until May 5, so I sure didn't have pasture for the animals, nor did other farmers. Corn is just now being planted, first it was too cold and wet, then we got 21 days with no rain, so the corn in the ground didn't sprout. Farmers bought a second batch of seed corn and are trying again. That may drive up the price of corn, which will drive up the price of beef and pork. It's an ugly cycle that only ends or improves with a good farming year.

John, your thread will be timely. We are slaughtering chickens on Thursday, 15 of them. I'll have plenty of liver, gizzards, hearts, feet and necks for stock. I'll be watching for some new ideas.

And I still have beef liver in the freezer, so I need to make another batch of liverwurst. Even some of those who profess to "hate" liver managed to eat the homemade stuff and I'm all out. My Mother "appropriated" the last package I had, LOL.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 9:47PM
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Someday we might just "get" what "Homeland Security" really means!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 9:47AM
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What's most concerning is while food prices have gone up, food quality has decreased. Soils in many areas are so depleted that foods have a fraction of the nutrients they used to contain. Plus, pesticides, herbicides, hormones in meat and dairy products and on and on. Here's an interesting article addressing soil depletion:

Here is a link that might be useful: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 2:12PM
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Beef ? Who can afford beef? Fortunately I prefer fish and chicken over beef because beef has become so expensive. I read today that pink slime is creeping back into ground beef, ostensibly to lower the price per pound but more likely to increase the profit margin.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 5:02PM
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I'm so upset. A local independent grocer (SusyTwo) knows the store, who has a huge meat selection with an instore butcher.

They're meat is excellent and people come from all over to get it.

We've always bought our boneless, skinless breasts there, and they would come on sale for a good price. Their newspaper ads stated that they didn't inject their meat.

Just in the last couple of weeks, the breasts are now Seasoned! And it says on the packaging that it's injected with salt water. I wrote to the store owner and voiced my sadness and disgruntledness. He wrote back to tell me that they offer air-chilled breasts at more money.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 8:07PM
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That is b-a-d. Time to find a new butcher.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 8:12PM
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I agree, definitely time to find a new source. (sigh)

I priced chicken livers today, $1.69 per pound. Gizzards and hearts were $1.49 per pound. Chicken thighs and legs were 99 cents. Now what's that all about?


    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 10:29PM
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I've also noticed cuts of beef are much smaller and sometimes hard to identify because they are cut differently than they were years ago. I just don't understand packages of so-called "stew meat" and the high price charged for it. Who in their right mind would buy it?

Gone are the days where a large serving of meat is the central feature on the plate at every meal. Just because there were millions of dollars from mandatory beef and pork "checkoff" programs that went into advertising - "Pork, the Other White Meat... Beef. It's What's for Dinner", doesn't mean squat on a $10/week meat budget.

Lunches now include:

(recipe linked below)

I made a high-protein, high-fiber, gluten-free bread from Elana Amsterdam's new book - "PALEO COOKING from Elana's Pantry" and used it in this recipe along with some yummy Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese, and I've also made them with feta cheese. Add fresh herbs or homemade lemon pepper for a tasty meat alternative.


Here is a link that might be useful: Leftover Bread and Cheese Patties

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 7:53AM
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The world economic dynamics are changing, and not reversible, IMHO.

For instance I noticed a decrease in food quality in the Chinese restaurants here in NYC. This is what I was often told, "Yeah, our chef went back to China. Better pay in China."

"Brain Drain" is also happening here in many fields, many foreign borns are returning to their respective countries, better pay, less racial discrimination.

From Google:

"55% of Ph.D. students in engineering in the United States are foreign born (2004).[3]
Between 1980 and 2000, the percentage of Ph.D. scientists and engineers employed in the United States who were born abroad has increased from 24% to 37%.[3]
45% of Ph.D. physicists working in the United States are foreign born (2004).[3]
80% of total post-doctoral chemical and materials engineering in the United States are foreign-born (1988).[4]"


    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 8:17AM
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The restaurant business is going to be the next industry to go on the skids big-time if you ask me. We hardly ever went out anyway, before the economic downturn, because we figured why go out for a meal we could make better at home. So unless it was something unusual that we wouldn't make, or a special occasion where we wanted to just focus on dining, not the prep. and clean-up, we never went out. Now even when we go out to our special places for our special meals, the quality is just not there. We went out last night to the best barbecue joint in the region and the food was just so so, IMHO. BF had the ribs and he enjoyed them since we never make those at home. I had pulled pork which was dry and tasteless. This place has been on the "best barbecue" list locally for decades. It looked kind of ramshackle too. It's also in an upscale neighborhood so that says something too. Folks just do not have the money anymore to go out to eat.

On the flip side, home gardening is the hot new hobby. As for the agricultural crises, it is rather odd that I see in the US where some of the best farmland in the world is simply torn up and turned into subdivisions with chemlawn grass growing every where. As if these precious soils weren't a precious commodity. I fear we will pay dearly for this in the future. I tend to be a little insulated from this because I am surrounded by tenders and growers. It really helps me feel upbeat despite the signs of the times. Nature has a way of always having something pop up to refute destruction. Like for example right now, no matter how hard I try to eradicate it, sage keeps popping up in my yard, even between the pavement cracks! And I picked way too many strawberries yesterday so now I have to figure out how to preserve it all before it rots!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 1:38PM
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God bless the grass that grows through cement.
It's green and it's tender and it's easily bent.
But after a while it lifts up its head,
For the grass is living and the stone is dead,
And God bless the grass.

--Malvina Reynolds

I was thinking about this some days ago, that they're covering over some of the best farmland in the world, in the San Joaquin Valley, with subdivisions. And how when there's no more food and water in the Valley, they'll be digging up houses and parking lots looking for good earth.

I'm not a big food snob. I love a good burger, emphasis on the "good" (best I ever had was in a roadside stand in the backwoods of Oregon). I love Amy's Macaroni and Soy Cheeze (frozen prepared food). But in the past few years, in big city fine dining restaurants, I've had really fine meals only a couple of times. That wasn't a food quality issue or availability issue. It was a lack of care. And I think that's at the root of a lot of these other issues as well.

I saw a report on TV about the "new cuts" of meat. They had people who "invented" them. A lot of it was about producing more affordable cuts that would cook up better than just cutting slabs off the larger hunk. What makes me wonder though is the growing popularity of cuts formerly thought to be inferior. Following the faddish popularity of fajitas, skirt steak became very popular and fine dining chefs are now treating it as a prize. The whole point of fajitas was that the skirt was cheap. It was tough and almost considered trimmings, and by marinating it for three days and frying it up with the onion and peppers it could be made into something yummy. There's very little skirt on an animal, however, so with low supply and high demand...

Chicken wings became a thing because they used to be cheap too because they were undesirable. They're bony, little meat, and hard to cook. Even harder to eat with a knife and fork. They're not cheap anymore! But I did learn the trick to soup bones. The butcher told me. If you ask for soup bones in his store, it costs about the same as ground chuck. If you ask for dog bones, the same bones cost about $2/lb. I too miss the free bones (though they do give free shankbones for Passover), but $2 for meaty, marrowy bones doesn't feel outrageous.

I was watching a news discussion show to see one of my dear ones showing her expertise, but just before her segment was a discussion of "food gentrification". They were talking about how rich people had discovered chard and driven up the price and now were doing the same with collards. They said this was affecting poor people's health, especially in the South where these greens have been an important staple, and nutritionally necessary.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 4:34PM
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Pllog that is so funny I almost posted that lyric myself. It was running through my mind, that's for sure!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 4:50PM
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