August 26, 2012

READER PATRICK CARROLL EMAILS ON FOOD PRICES:

I’m the cook for my family, always have been. My wife refused to learn how to cook, while I was taught by a Cypriot Greek when I came to the US to work on my summer vacations while going to university in Ireland.

While working for Sophocles (yes, that was his name), I learned how to cook for large groups of people. Working for Sophocles, the typical recipe started with “Render two sheep into one inch cubes……” This serves me well today, as I make meals for a family. Typically, I cook “by the vat.” I cook a load of food of a single type, and we live off it for the week. Then I do something else. This weekend I was getting ready to cook my vat, so I went to Publix looking for deals. There were great deals on pasta and pasta sauces, so pasta it is for this week. Normally I take the shop pasta sauces and augment them with garlic, mushrooms, onions, other herbs, and ground beef. Weekends are a good time to buy ground beef because you can get the ground beef that’s about to go out of date for a decent price. I’m cooking for a group. Price is a consideration.

This weekend, I found the on-sale (i.e., about to go out of date) ground beef at over $5.00 per pound. This is about 60% over the normal price. I’m buying about half the normal amount of beef and adding more veg (ok, onion) to compensate.

The press may not talk about inflation in food prices, but it’s happening.

Yes, I do our grocery shopping and I’m frequently appalled. The other thing that appalls me is how surreally low the interest rates banks are touting have gotten — 0.5% on a CD! Woohoo! If we had a Republican president, the press would be full of tear-jerking reports about senior citizens being squeezed between rising food prices and rock-bottom interest rates as a result of his horrible economic policies. But since we have a Democrat in the White House, it’s just one of those things that happen, waddyagonnado?

UPDATE: Reader Chris Fox writes: “If you think food prices are high now, wait until you see meat prices next year. We actually expect beef prices to drop as ranchers liquidate their herds this summer after running out of pasture. Corn prices are just too high to profitably feed the cattle and sell them at current beef prices. You’ll get a drop in prices this year, and a spike next year, as the beef glut turns into a shortage. We in the financial industry have been talking about this for months. I’m starting to see articles in the regular papers discussing same.”

Fill your freezer when prices drop. And I guess this is a good time to post that Strategic Shopping link again.

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