The United States of America has long been known as "The Breadbasket of the World". Grains, soybeans and other food products have been exported from the U.S. to other parts of the world since the days when it was merely 13 colonies. Americans have always had plenty of food, with enough left over to send elsewhere.

But now there is disturbing news...news that isn't garnering much attention by most media outlets. The U.S. has been forced to import wheat due to shortages. Retailers are limiting the amount of rice, cooking oil, flour and pasta its customers can purchase, in an effort to ration the goods. Americans haven't experienced food rationing since World War II. There are also reports of Americans hoarding food.

Savvy Frugality recommended stocking an emergency pantry last year, when it appeared the U.S. economy was about to enter a downward spiral. Food prices have increased more than 80 percent over the past three years, and they are expected to get higher as fuel prices climb. Crop shortages have also let to higher prices, as well as speculative buying by investors.

What does this all mean to you? At best, food prices will continue to increase, and you may not be able to afford, or want to pay the price, of the items you would normally purchase. At worst, the food items you want may not be available at all. Savvy Frugality has been stocking up on canned goods when the prices have been low, and has a fully stocked pantry. I plan to make a bulk purchase of rice and and dried beans during my next food purchase, just in case. If you already have an emergency food pantry, great! If you have decided now is the time to start, you'll want to check out the best storage methods and expected shelf life of dried goods. Storing in an airtight container in a dry, cool place is the key.

Of course, if everybody starts making bulk purchases and hoarding food, skyrocketing prices and shortages will perpetuate and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's best to buy items when they are on sale, in reasonable quantities, and store extra each time you do your food shopping.

It is no coincidence that "affordable food" and "saving money on groceries" are now the most popular search terms at SavvyFrugality.com. While I don't believe the U.S. is returning to the days of bread lines and soup kitchens for the masses, food is going to continue to become more expensive, and some families may not be able to budget for that. Savvy Frugality will continue to post updates on how to get the most food for the dollar.

How about you? Have you increased your food budget or made cost-cutting measures to put food on the table? Please leave a comment and share your ideas with others!

1 comments

  1. Mama Bear // April 23, 2008 at 10:10 PM  

    Wow - I live in Canada but the US and Canada are so closely intertwined that I think I might create an emergency pantry.

    I did notice that flour went up $3 at my grocery store. That's scary. Considering it was 'regular' price only a month ago.

    Thanks again for a great post.

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