Food prices are skyrocketing, with no end in sight. The store shelves still have empty gaps due to continued kinks in our supply chain. Fuel costs are predicted to continue to rise. Fertilizer costs have risen exponentially in the last year. Our grocery budgets are feeling the crunch. And the cost of fuel seems to be on the rise as well.
Could we be teetering on the edge of a national and global food crisis?
Below are three reasons food insecurity is on the rise and three ways we can stabilize our personal food chains to help brace for these coming instabilities, price increases and supply chain issues.
Bracing for Impact: How to prepare for continued food shortages and price increases.
Here are 3 reasons why we will continue to see food prices soar and suggestions on how to prepare.
1. Fuel Costs - How fuel prices affect our food prices
If you have visited the fuel pump recently, it is no surprise that fuel prices are on the rise. This has been an upward trend over the last year and is predicted to continue to rise. However, what we often do not realize is that today’s fuel prices have not yet affected the price of the food already on the shelves. Fuel is used in the farm equipment used to produce the food, used to transport the food from farm, to the factory, then to retailer. The products that will be placed on trucks today and eventually make their way to store shelves. Those will be the items that increase in price when they hit the shelves. Long story short, if you think prices are outrageous now, next month the same item could be higher due to rising fuel costs to operate.
How do we avoid rising food prices do to fuel price increases?
1. Grow your own food - The simple answer is to grow as much of your food as possible. Food growing in your back yard is not affected by fuel prices. Starting your plants for seed will save you even more money.
2. Buy local - The closer your food is to you, the less fuel is used to obtain them, which will in turn equal cheaper food. Support local farmers by buying directly from the farm and farmers markets. Food grown locally does not have to absorb fuel costs like produce in the store.
3. Stock up on Staples - There will always be items that we need to buy at the store. How do we offset those rising costs? Any item bought today will be cheaper than the same item bought a month from now. Today’s stock has not yet felt the full impact of current fuel prices, so stock up on stable items such as flour, sugar, oil, canned goods, etc. Stocking up on these items now will save money as costs continue to rise.
2. Rising Fertilizer Costs - Dealing with extreme price hikes on fertilizer
Nitrogen-based fertilizers, which are important crop nutrients used in commercial farming, are made through a process dependent on natural gas or coal, linking fertilizer costs to the energy crisis as well. Because of the on-going energy crisis, natural gas and coal are in tight supply. This has forced fertilizer plants to cut back on production and in some cases close. Other fertilizer issues stem from countries curbing their exports to ensure they maintain enough for their own domestic use. Add in increased tariffs, rising freight rates which have both further disrupted global shipments, and we have a extreme situation. This has created a perfect storm, with fertilizer costs rising to an all-time high. Nitrogen Based fertilizers are used to keep the world in supply of food, and a shortage and price increase could very likely tip the scale on hunger in underdeveloped countries. So, what does all that have to do with rising food costs and food instability? First, fertilizer is used to feed our food. Farmers are now being faced with only a few options, either use less to save money, or spend upwards of 300% more on fertilizer than budgeted and pass that cost on to the buyer. Neither is a good option for the consumer.
How to we offset these fertilizer costs?
1. Grow your own food - As monotonous as it may sound, the answer is again to grow your own food reducing grocery store costs.
2. Start your own Compost - Compost is free fertilizer for the home gardener. Composting will provide your garden with extra nutrients it needs to grow big healthy fruit and will reduce household waste, all while cutting out chemicals. Composting is a win-win!
3. Buy organic - Organic certified growers do not use chemical fertilizers on their crops, instead they use compost, cover crops, plant by-products, animal manure, and other biological materials to feed their soil and plants. These organic certified growers do not need the chemical fertilizers that have increased in price, resulting in organic produce prices holding steadily while chemically grown produce prices are on the rise.
3. Global Supply Chain Issues - Local store shelf supplies and prices
The chaos that has unfolded in ports, warehouses, and retailers has yet to subside. Grocery store shelves are still showing signs of supply chain disruptions and experts are predicting that it could take years for the supply chain to fully recover. The economic environment has become even more challenging, which is further fueling supply chain issues. Sanctions are causing further gaps in commodity supply chains, especially for grains. In every stage from farm to table there have been hiccups that will take time to smooth over. Farms have faced severe weather conditions, lack of workers to harvest, shortages of truckers to haul the food from farm to factory, a shortage of factory workers and factory production issues linked to packaging shortages and more. The food is often able to be grown but unable to reach the buyer due to transportation and packaging issues.
How can we offset food supply chain issues?
1. Grow your own food - Growing your own food shortens your supply chain down to…right outside your door! Raising your own meat and growing your own vegetables and fruit are the simplest ways to guarantee that you have the food you need, right when you need it. Also, keep a back stock of seeds in your personal seed library of at least a years’ worth of seeds. You never know when you may need to replant a crop and having your seeds already available will cut down on mail and transportation issues.
2. Connect with local farmers - Buying your food straight from the farm that produced it cuts out the hassle of the middleman and shortens your supply chain. Not for sure where to find certain types of produce? Call your local extension office, they will be able to tell you where all the local farms are and tell you what products they sell.
3. Buy in bulk - When possible, consider buying stable items in bulk. Often times, bulk foods like grains are cheaper to buy in bulk and do not suffer as much from supply chain issues because larger packaging or no packaging is involved.
Food prices and availability are showing no signs of returning to “normal” anytime soon. Growing your own food is the perfect way to offset your grocery bill, provide nutrient dense foods for you family and even preserve harvests for the future. Supporting our local farmers keeps our supply chain short and feeds our local money back into our local economy.
These are a few simple ways to take back some control of your personal food chain.
Start making those garden plans today and get your seeds ordered soon!
Blessings of Bounty – Amber Jouben
Heritage Hollow Homestead