Consider food’s cost (Thanksgiving Series Pt. 1)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote: “We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.”  To commemorate Thanksgiving, “The (agri)Cultured Foodie” will use the next week and a half to look at the “ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts” that bring food to the table.

The grocery trip before Thanksgiving is one that takes careful planning.  In high school, I remember the year my mom tasked me with going grocery shopping for the holiday.  Armed with a list and money, I drove to our local Kroger and started carefully selecting items.  Growing up, my mom had taught me how to check an item’s price/unit, make sure the sales are really the best deals, and strategically buy in bulk.  I left the store not quite as rich as when I entered, but nonetheless excited about my purchases and the impending holiday meal.

In America, we’re fortunate when it comes to the cost of groceries.  Did you know that Americans are currently spending less on food (as a percentage of their income) than they did in the 1980s?  Bloomberg Businessweek explains: “In 1984, the average U.S. household spent 16.8 percent of its annual post-tax income on food. By 2011, Americans spent only 11.2 percent. The U.S. devotes less of its income to food than any other country—half as much as households in France and one-fourth of those in India.”

The cost of your Thanksgiving meal will likely be less expensive this year because food inflation and turkey prices are lower than usual, according to Purdue Ag Comm’s annual article on Thanksgiving’s cost.  Purdue Economist Corinne Alexander noted that the decreased cost could allow room for additional treats this Thanksgiving.  She also noted that although the average family spends about 10 percent on food, families impacted my unemployment and minimal wage could spend up to 25 percent of their income on food.

“For these families, any food price rise is significant,” Alexander said in the article. “We should remember those who are less fortunate and share our food bounty.”

Thanksgiving offers us a time to be thankful for a sound ag infrastructure that brings us quality food at an affordable price, and to celebrate our thankfulness by offering what we have with those in times of hardship.

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Categories: From the Field to Your Fork | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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