Now is a good time to think about a diet.
I know it’s just before holiday party and serious eating time, and I also know that “losing weight” is typically a New Year’s resolution.
This year there’s likely to be a whole lot more than just latent guilt and clothes that don’t quite fit driving the urge – nay, NEED – to diet. Or at least eat less. And that would be the price of food. As noted in the San Francisco Chronicle, food prices are outstripping the overall increase in consumer prices by about one and a half times.
Grocery prices grew by more than 1 1/2 times the overall rate of inflation this year, outpaced only by costs of transportation and medical care, according to numbers released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Economists predict that this is only the beginning. Fueled by the higher costs of wheat, sugar, corn, soybeans and energy, shoppers could see as much as a 4 percent increase at the supermarket checkout next year.
And what could be causing the increase, you ask. Well, among other things, one of the major causes would be the idiocy abounding in the US Congress when they passed legislation propping up the price of corn for use as ethanol.
Michael Swanson, an agricultural economist at Wells Fargo, said that as long as corn, soybean and energy prices continue to climb, food inflation could reach 4 percent in 2011.
The global demand for corn – used for food and ethanol – has swelled so much that feed costs for farmers and ranchers are being passed on to the consumer, Swanson said.
The price of sugar, also used for ethanol in parts of the world, is priced at a two-decade high.
Hmmm. Could there be anything else? Well…
Gas and diesel prices also are playing a role.
And, thanks to the Obama Administration, we have drilling moratoriums on off-shore platforms.
I suppose I could do with losing a couple of pounds. And hopefully, we’ll also lose the ethanol subsidies in the next Congress and maybe, just maybe common sense will intervene with respect to the drilling moratoriums. But I doubt the latter. And if we don’t, at the end of the day the net impact in the US will simply be a tad more spent on eating and driving and a tad less on entertainment. In other places, not so much…
Oh well, there’s also that “population bomb” that Paul Ehrlich’s been warning us about for 60 years.
- Congress Should End Ethanol Subsidies [Dispatches from the Culture Wars] (scienceblogs.com)
- Vinod Khosla speaks out against corn ethanol subsidies (green.autoblog.com)
- U.S. ethanol industry faces subsidy battle next year (reuters.com)