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article imageOp-Ed: Food may appreciate faster than gold

By Thomas Amshay     Mar 17, 2011 in Politics
Imagine if food prices go up 25 to 50 percent in the next year. Sound crazy? Some are predicting it will happen this summer.
According to Packaging Digest online, and hundreds of other sources, February 2011 wholesale food prices climbed almost four percent marking the largest one-month increase in 37 years.
That is not some crazy shock jock talking, the report is based on information from the United States Labor Department.
Indeed The Food Institute (Upper Saddle River, N.J.) confirmed that wholesale prices have not increased this much since November 1974 during the OPEC oil crisis when food went up 4.2 percent.
As someone that shops for groceries, and buys pretty much the same things each time, for several months I have been watching prices going up and quantities going down. In my store powdered cream substitute for coffee went from $1.95 to $2.49 in two weeks; it had been $1.95 for at least a year.
Coffee has been going up so fast that shoppers in the coffee aisle stand there trying to decide whether to buy or not. Boxed cereal is heading for the moon.
Eggs, fresh meat, poultry, and even deli meats and cheeses are following suit. Fresh meat is almost ridiculous. I don't use sugar and flour, but I'm told they are on the rise.
If you shop you know what I'm talking about unless you have so much money you don't care, yet. But some day soon you may be joining the ranks of those who care.
The good news is that not all food prices are up. The bad news is that people that know what's going on in U.S. and world affairs have been warning about food prices and crazy inflation for a year and longer. And they say that 50 percent increases in food prices are coming.
Could that be? I'm don't know for sure, but one thing you can count is that food prices aren't going to go down. My guess is you've heard at least whispers about those things, but you may be think you can't do anything.
For my part when I shop for groceries I buy a little extra of anything on sale that has a long shelf life, and that I would eat anyhow -- pasta, soup, canned tuna, packaged and canned goods. Products that don't need to be cooked are a good idea if the power is out. And of course even non-edible commodities are a hedge against future price increases.
And just in case of a power or water service outage, keep one week's worth of bottled water in stock at all times. You can live much longer without food than you can without water.
So is this crazy talk or what? Try to imagine your family without enough to eat, because your food budget buys only half of what it used to buy.
In a worst case scenario food could be more valuable than gold or silver. I am not saying to become a hoarder, just to think responsibly about what could happen if food keeps going up. Call it responsible hoarding.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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