Thursday, August 25, 2011

Food Costs and Economics

Food costs are definitely at an all-time high around the country. It first began a few years back, about 3 or 4 years ago, that prices started to creep up.

It was heavily due to energy costs increasing the costs of transport of food. There was upward movement in commodity costs, including corn and wheat, that especially drove up the cost of processed foods.

But now, energy prices are lower, but many food prices have stayed at the high level. The reason for this, is because much of the food we all buy at the grocery store adhere to an economic theory called "sticky prices." Sticky prices are prices that may change due to changes in the overall economic climate, but once those variable changes disappear or return to their normal levels, the price stays the same. There a lot of reasons for this, and if you're interested, here's a brief article if you'd like to know more. I read a lot of this sort of stuff, because I find it interesting, but I gather that most people don't.

Anyways, on top of those sticky prices we all pay, city-dwellers pay quite the premium on all food sold at a grocery store. But, that's okay, I wouldn't trade my city life for the world.

Today is a day off from work so I walked over to my Whole Foods and stocked up for about 1 week's worth of food. This stock will last me about 1 week, but also in addition to this, would be a few cups of oats and a few cups of fruit per week. That probably adds perhaps an additional $5.00 per week, and small amounts of things like salad dressing, garlic chili sauce, and probably $5.00 worth of protein shake mix. I would probably also add another $5.00 worth of lettuce to this.

This diet is relatively cheap I have found. Every single staple in this photo is actually cheaper at Whole Foods than my local Shaw's, which is quite the opposite of what I had expected to find.

I use 1 container of tofu a day, dry-fried of course. That takes a lot of the water weight out so it shrinks a bit. the lettuce I use for my salad for Meal 3 and Meal 6, and I use a lot of it, though I spend a few bucks each day buying my lettuce for Meal 3 during the work week. The Smart Bacon I use maybe once a week on top of my salad to change up my protein source, but I try not to use it much because it is a processed foods and we're advised to avoid them. I like Whole Foods's selection of frozen veggies; they're more imaginative than most grocery stores. I don't love the "Whole Foods Scene," and by no means do I believe that I or anyone need to follow an organic diet. I don't believe in any of that. [I actually think that the health benefits touted are mostly gimmick and something that Americans want to believe, so they do believe. People also used to believe that a woman's place was at home, not in the workplace, and not one questioned it. But that has also changed significantly over time. Though if someone prefers the taste of organic, then that's a reason enough to choose organic. But in terms of non-organic produce being bad or less good for you than organic, I'm not drinking that Kool-Aid] I go here often because it's cheaper and closer.

All of this food cost about $40. Not too bad. That, plus the $15 of so in other food that I consume. Ballpark figure, that's $55 a week in food costs, not too bad.

I don't really watch my food costs or only buy what is on sale. But today I actually thought it would be interesting just to see what I spend. I don't usually believe that buying and packing your food is cheaper. When I'm not dieting, I *never* do that. I much prefer to pick something up at one of my local places. I never pack a lunch; there is nothing more unappealing than a packed lunch. But, with this diet, this rule doesn't apply. I'm always amazed when I see people sit at their desk and eat a sad little sandwich with like 3 anemic slices of turkey on it and some tap water. I don't know how people do it.

I have a cafeteria in my building, and I buy my lettuce each day from the salad bar downstairs. I could bring my lettuce, but it takes up so much space, and plus, it's just more convenient this way.

I put on a pair of shorts that I haven't worn since my solo Puerto Rico vacation I took in June of 2010. Wow, they sure fit better, in fact, they're a little large. So I took a photo so I could compare.

Waaay more room in the hips and waist area. I looooove it.


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