How will a country with astounding rates of obesity deal with rising food costs? I just read about a woman who can no longer afford milk but has decided to give her children soda to drink instead? I personally do not think either one of those options is good for a child. Can we as a nation (taxpaying) even afford for health to worsen? Of course not.
So why are food prices soaring?
- Ethanol. The ethanol boom has driven corn prices up 70% in a year. Now more land is planted in corn, and soybeans, wheat, oats, and barley are all up from 5% to 35%. Plus, higher corn prices mean higher prices for animals in the food chain that eat it - such as chickens, cows, and hogs. Corn is also a key ingredient in a long list of processed foods like breakfast cereal, and so far, producers have been able to pass these cost increases on - another sign of a fundamentally inflationary environment.
- Higher distribution costs. Energy hits on two fronts: It costs more to process food and it costs more to move it all to market.
- World demand. The "China effect" on energy prices has been well documented. But it also affects food. Food exports have grown as living standards in China, India and other growing economies have risen. That's good for the economy but not for prices.
1. Don't be embarrassed to use coupons. Find them, Clip them, Save them, Share them.
2. Leave the junk food on the shelf. It makes no sense whatsoever to buy food that will not nourish you. Limit your caffeine and muffins, doughnuts and candy.
3. Learn the shelf life of the foods you buy. Pick out the healthier stuff that can last. The shelf-life of food will depend upon the food itself, packaging, temperature, and humidity. Some examples:
Most fresh vegetables may be stored up to 5 days in the refrigerator wrapped or covered in moisture-proof bags. Root vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, etc.) and squashes, eggplant should be stored in a cool, well-ventilated place between 50°F and 60°F. Tomatoes continue to ripen after harvesting and should be stored at room temperature. Removing the tops of carrots, radishes, and beets prior to refrigerator storage will reduce loss of moisture and extend shelf-life. Lettuce should be rinsed under cold running water, drained, packaged in plastic bags, and refrigerated. Proper storage of fresh vegetables will maintain quality and nutritive value.
Ripe eating apples should be stored separately from other foods in the refrigerator and eaten within one month. Apples stored at room temperature will soften rapidly within a few days. Remember to remove apples that are bruised or decayed prior to storage in the refrigerator. Do not wash apples prior to storage.
Green pears and apricots should be ripened at room temperature and then stored in the refrigerator. Expect a 5-day refrigerated shelf-life for these fruits. Unripe peaches may be ripened at room temperature and eaten after 2 days. Store ripe peaches in the refrigerator but consume at room temperature. Grapes and plums should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten fresh within 5 days of purchase. Store unwashed grapes separately from other foods in the refrigerator and wash prior to consumption. Ripe strawberries can be stored in the refrigerator separately from other foods for approximately 3 days. Strawberries should be washed and stemmed prior to consumption.
Citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and ripened oranges, can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. Grapefruit may be stored at a slightly higher temperature of 50°F. Melons, such as the honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and watermelon, may be ripened at room temperature for 2, 3, and 7 days, respectively. Store ripe melons in the refrigerator. Avocados and bananas should be ripened at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. Never store unripe bananas in the refrigerator, since cold temperatures will cause the bananas to rapidly darken.
4. Cook the food you purchase. If you don't think you and your family will really eat something before it spoils, don't buy it. Research shows the average family wastes nearly $600 a year on food. Don't buy and cook food for the garbage can.
5. Learn to grow your own fruits and veggies. What a great hobby it could be and also it's good for the body. Learn your Plant Hardiness Zone to know what to plant and when to plant in your area.
6. Find your local farmers market in town. There, you can typically find fresher produce at better prices and you might even be able to negotiate for those apples. Find or add a place to The Eat Well Guide.
7. Take turns and share costs. Host Healthy Dinner Night parties with family and friends. Well, maybe its not such a good idea as people tend to eat more food in the relaxed company of others. What do you think?
8. Ditch the alcohol. It lowers your inhibition and makes you eat more, talk funny, and will eventually lead to some serious problems mentally and physically.
9. Quit smoking. Save your money, you might need it. I'm not trying to wag my finger at anybody here. Just a friendly lil' reminder that we quit and haven't given up on you.
10. Ride a bike. It's liberating and somehow and in someway, it will make a big difference.
11. Forget drive-thrus. Detox from fast food. I remember when Happy Meals used to cost $1.99. Who knows how much they are now? And you've heard the story, it makes you fat.
12. Become a Vegetarian and I guarantee you can save some bucks. Unless of course, you go splurging in the tofujerky, tofuturkey, meal replacement bar industries. Don't fall for it.
(Pictured below is a delicious vegetable medley of sweet potato, black beans, and zuchinni cooked over fresh diced onion and minced garlic and spiced with a bit of cumin, pepper, and curry powder. It was served with warm pita bread and quite delicious. Try it.
13. Understand the Nutrition Facts Labels and make it a habit to read them.
14. Eat Enough, But Less and live longer. Try using smaller plates. Eat slower. And get your fork into something green. Anything with a high fiber content is a great way to fill up and be sustained throughout your days. Tips: Oatmeal for breakfast. An apple as a snack. Spinach in your salad. A handful of mixed nuts. Whole grain breads and pastas.
15. Money left over? Not worried about the rising food cost phenomenon. Congrats! Can you please consider chipping into to your local food banks? There are hungry people (and don't forget the children) all over the world. Riots and instability are spreading as food prices skyrocket.