green beans

You have to spend more money, because you have to live in this way … We cannot say, ‘OK, the price of pork rises and we won’t eat it,’ because that’s impossible, because we need that for daily life. So the only thing is we have to make more money to cover the expense. That’s why we work hard and we come back home late.
— publishing house editor in China.

If you’ve turned on the news in the past couple of weeks, chances are you’ve heard numerous reports of the rising costs of food worldwide. For example, prices of food in Haiti and Egypt have doubled in the past two years, and last week rioting over the food crisis occurred in both countries. Also, the poor in Yemen are now spending more than a quarter of their incomes on bread alone.

Worldwide high prices are coming from a zeitgeist of factors:

  • Oil and energy costs are rising.
  • Climate changes such as droughts affect crops.
  • Farmers are moving their crops from food to potentially more lucrative biofuel crops.
  • As citizens of countries such as China and India become more successful, their diets are changing and they are buying more food. They are eating more meat, which requires a much larger amount of grains.

Domestically, food prices are climbing as well. Food prices in March rose 1.2%, and the price base ingredients such as milk and eggs are increasing quickly.

NPR is covering the issue with a series of stories covering the food crisis. The series is doing a good job of giving me a clear picture of all the aspects involved. Tomorrow, NPR will focus on how the current crisis is revitalizing agriculture in some European communities.

April 11, 2008
World Bank Chief: Biofuels Boasting Food Prices

April 12, 2008
Rising Food Prices Spark Growing Concern

April 13, 2008
Food, Fuel Demand Raise Corn, Soybean Prices

April 14, 2008
Aid Groups Target Poor Nations as Food Prices Soar

April 15, 2008
China’s Food Prices Rise as Population, Wealth Grow

NEXT WEEK: Good news on Food Prices? Some say yes.

The Rising Cost of Food, Part 1 of 2 24 March,2009Jennifer Maiser

  • Denise Lincoln

    Jennifer, thanks so much for writing about this very important issue. There have also been a few New York Times articles discussing the increased costs of grain, including one on today’s front page that you may be interested in:

    I look forward to next week’s post!

  • these food prices are affecting everyone… me and my family have basically gone back to the basics… no more… cooking gourmet at home, i have to go back to my traditional culture food… rosted chicken, pork chops,stewed beef (i heard beef hasn’t really changed in prices… but eggs and chicken have gone up so much because of feed) rice and beans or vegetables, soups, etc. Oh well, gourmet or not i just make the best of what i have, just like my family had to in the past when food was scarce 🙂

  • The rising cost of food is effecting everyone. I have to adjust my budget just to put food on my families table. I don’t think we will be taking any family trips this summer. I can only afford the basics, bread, milk, cereal, beef, chicken and canned fruits and vegetables.


Jennifer Maiser

“My passion for food began young.”

I am the editor of the influential website which encourages readers to support local farmers and producers.

I began my personal website, Life Begins at 30, in 2003.

I have been published in Edible San Francisco and Fine Cooking, write regularly for Bay Area Bites, Serious Eats, and have been quoted in many nationwide publications. Photography is a passion, and I have had photos printed in National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure.

I contributed to a Williams-Sonoma cookbook: Cooking from the Farmers’ Market, which was released in February 2010.

I live in San Francisco, California and can often be found at local farmers markets seeking out the best of what’s in season and chatting with farmers.

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