New poll: Rising food prices and you

(Skip the rambling and go directly to the poll)

The news is quite disturbing these days. Soaring food prices, food riots in Haiti, rice hoarding by some exporters of rice. Do you worry about rising food prices?

We eat a lot of rice at our house as you might expect, so news like rice prices hitting an all-time high today are a bit disturbing. We’ve already seen bread getting more expensive.

Still, I’m not getting overly worked up about it, because I know that we can afford rice even if it doubled in prices, and the same for bread or butter or whatever else is affected. It may make us adjust our eating patterns a bit though. If things get really out of hand, I may implement one or more of the following:

  • buy less processed foods (though we don’t buy much anyway)
  • eat out less (ditto)
  • eat less meat and fish, eat more vegetable proteins
  • watch out more for sales at the supermarkets
  • buy less snacks (especially the bane of my existence, milk chocolate)
  • deal better with leftovers!
  • reduce amounts (our waistlines could use it anyway…)
  • economize elsewhere

Being a household of two working adults / no kids though, I know that we have it way easy, and chances are we won’t have to economize that much.

What about you? Are you concerned about food prices? Do you plan to do anything? Take the new poll….

(Related: Slate has an article today about how, despite rising food prices all over the world, a “happy hedonism still dominates the food media”. This is pretty true. I think this is because the Food section of most major papers is lumped into the Style category, together with fashion, interior design, travel and so on. Most articles in mainstream media outlets about food are about dining out at restaurants, exotic and (more often than not) expensive ingredients, and the like.

The writer is rather mixing up her apples and oranges though.
On the one hand she focuses on how newspapers focus on the luxury end of the food market, but brings up several books from the past about frugal and budget eating. Those still exist, and magazines (especially those aimed at women) often feature money-saving tips.

Be that as it may, I have a feeling that people who like to read about food are divided into two camps: those who like the fantasy and luxury aspects of it (fantastic high end restaurants, exotic and rare ingredients, travel to far-flung places to taste ‘authentic’ fare) and those who want to know how to cook new things, improve their skills or their health, and so on. (There are also a lot of people who just like to collect recipes, rather like hoarding baseball trading cards, whether they actually use them or not.) Major newspapers mainly cater to the first type of people I think, with a nod to the second type. And, the first type of people are the ones that the advertisers love, a fact that the author of the Slate article does bring up. Food blogs also cater to one or the other camp mostly. I think Just Hungry and Just Bento cater mostly to group no. 2, with occasional forays into no. 1. That is mainly a reflection of my/our interests.

Wow that was a long digression!)

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I do worry a little, but not

I do worry a little, but not really for me, more for poor people, in developping countries, who were in a good way to reach a better level of life and now come back to their very poor status.
I’m vegetarian, quite vegan, so I think it’s more easy, no meat, no fish, vegetable proteins … and apart cookies I don’t buy processed food !
But I’m aware that things can’t change right now, with indian people and chinese people eating more and more meat (animals who needs to be fooden), and with vegetable oil it’s worst !
I’m optimistic tonight :D

Agathe | 16 April, 2008 - 23:21

I’m right there with you.

I’m right there with you. I’m thinking about making the shift to more locally-grown food as a result (since a lot of food in Australia is shipped from third-world Asian countries), but convincing my girlfriend of this is another story. ;)

Dina | 17 April, 2008 - 11:46

newspapers and food

I don’t know about other places, but the newspaper we get has a great food section. It’s a weekly feature, 4 pages of mostly recipes. It’s got a wine feature, a section for requested recipes, info on new products and low fat/cal items, and also a weekly menu planner with entertaining, budget, kids, and meatless dinner ideas. I keep recipes from it just about every week. (For instance, the food porn headlining this week’s section is a Nutella French toast sandwich).

That said, I think I fall into both of your categories of foodies. I love a good restaurant, but I also love recipes and learning about food.

kakugori | 17 April, 2008 - 08:20

油价粮价齐飙涨 引发全球通膨危机

随着基本粮食价格近月来快速上涨,包括埃及、喀麦隆、象牙海岸、茅利塔尼亚、衣索比亚、马达加斯加、菲律宾与印尼均爆发暴力抗议事件。

菲国是全球最大稻米进口国,今天公布计画,将拨款十亿美元,希望在二零一零年前成为稻米与其他重要作物自给自足的国家。

昨天印尼宣布禁止农民将稻米卖到海外,而全球小麦主要生产国哈萨克也停止出口。

油价创新高也让全球粮食危机更严峻,消费者就算没有因为粮价提高而多花钱,油价也会占去额外花费,这对贫穷国家冲击尤甚。

粮食会越来越引起全世界人们的关注,you are vegetarian 也不行,你也要吃粮食呀!

liuxingwei | 17 April, 2008 - 10:29

Unfortunately I don’t read

Unfortunately I don’t read Chinese… care to post a translation? :)

maki | 17 April, 2008 - 12:00

food prices in third world countries

Just this morning, my mother was talking about how the rice our household usually consumes rose from 26 pesos per kilo to 33 pesos/kg. “Had I known we would eventually buy the P33 rice, I would have done it sooner,” she said. “Because now the P33 we could have bought is now P36.”

And this isn’t even the “fancy” rice we’re talking about. This is entry level kind of rice. The government sells their National Food Authority rice at P26/kg, I think. One has to line up for it, and only 2kg/person. I heard that in the branch which opened in the next town, the rice sold out in a few hours. Lots of poor people there.

In a way, I am concerned, because even with 3 working adults plus 2 college age kids, we’re still trying to make ends meet. If price of rice and other food stuff go up even more, I dread the return of the “almost bad but we sliced it out and retained what’s good” vegetable packs.

kantogirl | 17 April, 2008 - 12:58

A little too chubby

I am in the worried a little group. I am more worried for the folks getting by with and without kids in tow. I remember just starting out eating loaves of day old bread and milk just so I could make rent. These crisis tends to affect the just-on-the-edge folks where one push to the edge can be a real trial. I can afford more food than I need and can waste food if I am not attentive. That will be my first goal. Second, I will cut down on my prepackaged and urgent “I need to eat this right now” stuff. I am annoyed that there is a hops shortage, switching to more sake than beer isn’t the answer is it?

mysofa | 17 April, 2008 - 14:40

South America Food Prices

Hi Maki,

My other half, our puppy and I live in South America, Uruguay. In the past Uruguay was considered to be the ‘Swiss of the South’. Expensive homes, food, cars, and goods. Now a bit of a struggling country with the dash of the supper wealthy.

When we relocated temporarily in here in 06’ locally grown produces was rather inexpensive. Of course the imported items such as; Mustard, ketchup, teas, hot sauces, etc. were outrageous!

The North American Dollar exchange rate per pesos went from 25 to sometimes 30 pesos per $1 to 19 pesos per $1. With all imported item prices increasing and the dollar decreasing I am trying to do my best with smart shopping.

Since the exchange raters fluctuate so much here, I can gage grocery spending, but for other countries. North America being one of them-that mainly deal in dollars- I imagine one can casually look over increase in spending, if not carefully reviewed.

I don’ purchase very much processed items, if you consider Mustard a processed item and cookies a processed item, I don’t buy the latter. Chocolate of course, I do, more for my other half than me, though, really.

I forgot what point I was trying to make which don’t think I have one.

Ciao,
O

ode | 19 April, 2008 - 14:02

rising food prices and you

I worry about it a lot. Last year, heavily pregnant, I sat next to a table full of suits discussing the sugar for Ethanol production in India. they said somethign about not beign able to find sugar cane anymore to produce sugar in south america and pretty soon, they said it will be India. The suits were trying to woo the Indian sugar producer to buy their machineries. And now this. Maybe there will be no more rice for human consumption since it makes more economic sense to produce for animal feeds!
Last year I made a resolution I actually sticked to and probably helped a lot by the fact that I was pregnant, I didn’t buy a single cookbook. Sometime in 2006, dusting my bookshelves I discovered I actually cooked less than 10 recipes in most of the cookbooks I own. And I keep going back to the ones I like anyway. So I decided then to not buy any more in 2007 and to note those I used often and why. I didn’t cook much last year so I am going to continue this year with the observation and notes. This year (without the same 2007 resolution)so far I have bought 2 cookbooks - and I haven’t even started to cook with them! I don’t think I am buying anymore and I must cook at least 10 recipes from each book before end of this year!
Lisa

Lisa | 20 April, 2008 - 06:13

absadabzalootally

I worry about it a whole bunch. There was no sugar on the shelf, and things are going up in price double & triple! It’s making me worry about my family’s food consumption & wastage..and my little baking business. Looks like confectionaries and other stuff won’t be in big demand as soon as it becomes hard just to obtain necessities! =/

I pray for this world. :P

Eunice | 22 April, 2008 - 03:50

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