by Lucy Bryan Green
That pound of hamburger you bought for the Fourth of July barbeque cost you about nine percent more than it would have last year. That cereal you ate for breakfast cost you nearly four percent more than its 2011 counterpart. And the milk you poured on it? You paid several dimes more for that gallon than you would have a year ago.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported in June that general food prices rose 2.8 percent from May 2011 to May 2012.
The inflated price of food could easily tempt consumers, wearied by more than four years of economic recession, to complain about how hard putting food on the table has become. But in reality, Americans are putting a smaller percentage of the money they make toward food than ever before, and they’re dedicating a smaller portion of their incomes to food than anyone else in the world.
In 1929, the year the stock market crashed, the average American family could put 19.3 percent of its disposable income toward food to be consumed at home. That figure had dropped to 15 percent by 1960 and 10.4 percent in 1979.
In 2009 and 2010, Americans spent an all-time low of 6.4 percent of their incomes at the grocery store. That’s less than half the portion of disposable income Italians, Japanese and French dedicate to food—14.7, 14.6 and 13.5 percent, respectively.
Each American pays an average of $2,056 for food eaten at home every year. However, our neighbors in Canada pay $186 more per capita and spend 9.3 percent of their incomes on food. British and Australians pay $357 and $782 more per capita per year, 9.1 and 11.1 percent of their respective disposable incomes.
According to these USDA statistics, Americans enjoy some of the cheapest food in the developed world. However, many researchers, activists and health experts claim that the way Americans produce and consume food takes a heavy toll on their environment and health, costs that aren’t reflected in grocery store price tags. Read more »