As Gas, Food, and Energy Costs Rise, Americans’ Diets Will Continue to Suffer
posted at 2:01 am on December 20, 2010 by SueZeeQ
As Michelle Obama embraces her latest accomplishment, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, while Disney promotes her Let’s Move campaign, the reality of rising food and gasoline prices, as well as rising prices for propane and home heating oil continue to plague Americans. Gasoline prices at the beginning of the Obama presidency held steady at $1.81 per gallon, but have risen to over $3.00 on average as reported by the EIA in December 2010. Food prices continue to climb as well with no end in sight:
Grocery prices grew by more than 1 1/2 times the overall rate of inflation this year, outpaced only by costs of transportation and medical care, according to numbers released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Economists predict that this is only the beginning. Fueled by the higher costs of wheat, sugar, corn, soybeans and energy, shoppers could see as much as a 4 percent increase at the supermarket checkout next year.
Since November 2009, meat, poultry, fish and eggs have surged 5.8 percent in price. Dairy and related products have gone up 3.8 percent; fats and oils, 3 percent; and sugar and sweets, 1.2 percent.
Throw in the frigid temperatures and rising energy costs for heat and you’ve got a nightmare of a trifecta. Additionally, this report confirms a consumers’ worst fear–that costs will be passed onto them:
Stater Bros. has seen the prices it pays for cereal rise 5% in recent months. The chain has passed about half the increase on to consumers while making up for the rest by trimming other expenses, such as what it spends on cell phones and delivery truck tires.
Kraft Foods Inc., Sara Lee Corp. and General Mills Inc. already have said they’ll raise prices on certain items. Starbucks Corp. backtracked on an August announcement that it would hold coffee prices steady, saying in September it would boost prices of larger and hard-to-make drinks. This week, cereal maker Kellogg hinted that it will be raising prices, without disclosing specifics.
Grocery chains Safeway Inc. and Kroger have said they’ll pass supplier increases along to consumers.
While I agree that school lunches should be healthier and Mrs. Obama’s message to kids and parents regarding healthy nutritional choices and an active lifestyle is good, it’s a tall order. It will be difficult for parents to meet her expectations as more money is siphoned off to pay for higher gas, food, and energy bills–ultimately causing consumers to look for alternative–and cheaper–food choices, leading them right back to fast food, cereals, and prepared foods. It’s no secret that a family of four can eat a complete meal for about $10 at McDonald’s. Or, they can be more frugal and only spend $4.00 if sodium-saturated Tuna Helper or nitrate- and fat-laden hot dogs and mac-n-cheese are served up. If you look at the huge profits these fast food chains rake in, you have to wonder how they do it. How do they make a profit on $1.00 sandwiches? Volume and wholesale bulk purchasing, we know, but what’s the quality of the meat if they are still making a profit when it’s priced at a buck? After all, wagyu steak costs way more than a dollar.
Let me rephrase that point. With the destructive Keynesian economic policies President Obama and the Democrats have forced upon the country, in addition to rising household costs, high unemployment, and a bleak unknown economic outlook for 2011, many families will have no option but to eat poor-quality foods, rather than high-quality, vitamin-rich, nutritious foods. Ultimately, this will lead to an increase in obesity, poorer health, and higher health care costs. Additionally, how are parents going to teach their children about healthy food choices if they cannot afford to buy them, or better yet, know how to cook? Also, will they be willing to give up the convenience foods–it takes time to prepare a homemade meal. Now parents become failures, which creates a perfect storm for the government to step in and “help.”