07 May 2008

The Rising Cost of Food

Something interesting has happened during our recent forays to the grocery store. The prices of most basic foodstuffs have increased by 50%, and in some cases 100%. We don't buy just a whole lot of prepackaged goodies, usually we buy the basic building block ingredients and create our own goodies (cookies and the like), so we don't often encounter sudden higher prices. I guess I should have seen it coming when milk prices went up a while back. According to the news, this is happening all over the world and wreaking havoc on the lives of just about everyone.

Now, I'm not going to go into a political/ecological rant about the whole thing, that's not the purpose of this particular post. I just wanted to point out an unexpected personal consequence of higher prices: it has become easier to justify buying organic products. They are no longer much more expensive than non-organic; they're just a little bit more. My first encounter with this was at the eggs. Normally, a dozen regular, factory-produced, grade A, large, white eggs would cost me $1.29. They've been this price for I don't know how long. So I am astonished when one day, out of the blue, they're $1.99. What?! So, this causes me to look around at the other eggs I usually ignore. In the top of the egg case, there's a nice carton of brown, organic, hand-gathered eggs from free-roaming chickens for $2.19. I normally wouldn't feel OK with spending almost twice as much for the nice eggs, being on a tight budget and all. But now they're actually a viable option at only 20 cents more. I found this theme repeated throughout the store with the butter, cheese, etc. In some cases the organic and/or locally grown option was exactly the same price as the 'regular' stuff with the new inflated prices.

So, I'm wondering if this is going on in other parts of the country as well. If other shoppers are as attentive and actually start choosing the 'better' options, couldn't that translate to a boost for our own economy? Especially our local ones? I think the main reason people don't buy these types of items more often is that they are cost prohibitive for most of us. If suddenly they're not so outrageous, maybe things can improve as an unintentional consequence of recession/inflation. Or do I just need to get my rose-colored glasses adjusted?