First Person: How Much Are Food Prices Really Rising?

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Apparently, it is going to cost more money to construct the Thanksgiving spread this year, as one estimate suggests that the average meal could cost 13% more. It is reasonable to figure in some level of inflation, but the drought issues will contribute to the bulk of the increase. I am fairly certain that the meal will still happen at our house this year, and I would also assume that we will not be doing a cost analysis and comparing what was spent last year. We try to monitor budgetary expenditures in our house, but individual food costs are difficult to track. There are just too many variables.

Individual items

Given the price of gasoline, I have to fairly good awareness of what I am paying when I go to the pump. This is a singular item that is easier to remember, particularly since I often have to fill up on a weekly basis. The price of turkey, mashed potatoes and corn is a little harder. I know that many food items will be more expensive this year, but the reality is that I can still afford them. Until certain items experience a drastic increase, it is hard to put pricing in context. It isn't like the whole nation is experiencing the price gouging that has allegedly happened in some establishments on the east coast.

Drastic costs

I do know that higher prices can have a domino effect on other food costs. However, when you are talking about increases of 3-5%, these are prices that the consumer will absorb and not necessarily move to make a lifestyle adjustment. This makes me think about legislation that is geared towards curbing certain behaviors through taxation. Usually this is with something like smoking. While I do not doubt that price increases will cut a certain amount of behavior, there is the cold, hard reality that humans are consumers. If butter goes for $2.50 to $3, we are still going to buy it. If it jumped to $10, I would probably think about it a little harder. However, even with the impact of the drought, we are not talking about those kinds of increases.


It may sound a bit cliché, but I try my best to actually be thankful at Thanksgiving. People are struggling and my financial situation could be a lot worse. Yes, certain costs are higher and that is unfortunate. However, that is part of life, and we still depend on the cooperation of the weather. As a country we may be paying more for food in 2013, but at least we have access to that food. I would rather pay a bit more than not have access to anything at all.

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