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View from the Cab: An affordable supply

(CIFN photo)

As Rebecca and I spent a few days preparing meals for our folks last week, it dawned on me how affordable the American food supply really is.

USDA’s Economic Research Service reported in recent years that American families and individuals spend on average just under 10 percent of their disposable personal income for food. This compares to 18 percent in 1960. Applying this statistic to the calendar year means the average household in this country will have earned enough disposable income to pay for its annual food supply in a little over 30 days.

Almost 60 percent of domestic food purchases include groceries for home while around 40 percent of those purchases take place at a restaurant, according to a 2014 Consumer Expenditure Survey from USDA. We all know farmers are now able to grow more with less. Total farm output has more than doubled since 1948 thanks to advances in the industry. Energy prices have a major influence over the price of food and other retail items. Fluctuating fuel prices, for example, can have a major impact on various consumer items.

Each winter, Food Check-Out Week in February reminds us how safe and affordable our food is. I recall a day several years ago where I participated in a shopping cart race against a fellow news reporter. The other reporter won the two-minute shopping spree by collecting 120 items compared by my total of 109. My grocery bill was higher, however, as I spent $221.78 while the competitor spent $119.72. I guess I never was one to look for bargains. All of the non-perishable food items were given to local food pantries, which was a great way to mark Food Check-Out Week.

Here’s something else to chew on: one farm in this country feeds 165 people each year in the U.S. and abroad, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Also, the world’s farmers must grow about 70 percent more food than what is currently being produced since the global population is expected to increase to 9.7 billion by 2050. It is important for folks to remember we aren’t getting rich from food purchases. Producers receive only about 16 cents of every dollar spent on food. The rest goes toward other costs.

(The View from the Cab blog is powered each week by Petersen Chevy-Buick in Fairbury)

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