Am I The Only Victim Of Food Inflation?

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A couple of weeks ago I wanted to add a little something special to the cheese spread I was making for coffee hour after church. So I bought a leek. A single leek to chop up and put in the spread. Not a bundle of leeks. Just one. When I checked out, I was shocked to see that the charge for this single leek was $3.15.

Everything else on the bill was expensive, too. The butter was $4.99. Sometimes it seems like everything is getting spendy. Bread, milk, butter, cheese, meats, frozen vegetables. Now, I cook dinner for my family every night and we are usually eating just vegetables and protein. A few years ago I surprised myself — not a frugal person by nature — by actually shopping based predominately on price. I would pick out proteins because they were on discount rather than because they were what I wanted to prepare. I began purchasing generics. I may have even clipped a few coupons.

My husband noticed a few years ago that food producers are keeping the same prices for a given product but cutting the size of the box or carton. A half gallon of ice cream is no longer a half gallon. An ounce or two is shaved off each dry good.

What shocks me is how little other people seem to be bothered by food inflation. Maybe it’s just because I live in Washington, D.C., the one area of the United States impervious to economic problems since it’s the seat of government. Seriously, people are doing great here — whether they’re government employees or lobbyists or what not.

But there are indications that elsewhere in the States, people are feeling the hurt. The Washington Post reports that the cost for a Thanksgiving meal jumped 13% last year. It’s undoubtedly more than that since their conception of a complete Thanksgiving meal is about the saddest thing I’ve ever seen: a turkey, frozen green peas (frozen?), pumpkin pie mix out of a can, whipping cream, whole milk, stuffing, rolls, cranberries, and three pounds of sweet potatoes.

Just imagine if your Thanksgiving involves, God forbid, leeks! Or other fresh vegetables!

I don’t want to overreact. I’ve prepared meals in Europe and Central America and I’m aware that the United States has the best variety and pricing out there. We are blessed beyond measure. But having gotten that all out of the way, these prices are still crazy. There was a time in my recent memory when a single leek could have been paid for with just a few coins.

But seriously, I can’t be the only person noticing this, right? I figure politicians aren’t talking about it because they’re just out of touch. But it seems this story has been barely noticed by the media. Anyone else feeling the pinch out there?

(Photo: iStockphoto)