To some of us, it’s not clear that fuel and food prices are related.
This is simply because many of us don’t realize how much we depend on fossil fuels for our food supply.
Sure, it takes trucks to deliver food to the grocery stores, that much we know for certain, but getting food to the consumer is only a part of this “hand in hand” relationship between the cost of fuel and the cost of our groceries.
There is so much more when it comes to how fuel influences the price of our groceries.
When I speak of groceries, I’m speaking of all food and food related products that might be derived from animal and vegetable sources.
Let’s take a closer look to see how the cost of fuel influences the cost of groceries. There are probably several areas that we’re not considering when it comes to fuel and food prices.
Cultivation, planting and harvesting are several areas where fuel is used to prepare the soil for planting, getting seeds into the soil, and getting produce out of the fields.
Farmers often have fuel tanks that hold thousands of gallons of diesel fuel to operate their tractors.
When fuel goes up a dollar per gallon, that’s thousands of dollars more cost to produce the same food, and those costs have to be passed on to consumers.
Pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are responsible for most of the increases in the cost of our food.
Nearly every non-organic thing that farmers use to kills bugs, kills weeds and fertilize the soil is made or derived from a petroleum product, and that costs more just like the fuel made from the same petroleum product.
Commercial producers use plenty of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.
Processing our food also involves use of fuel to get product to the processing centers, operate equipment, heat water, burn off hair, incinerate wastes, boil off blood, cook food products and sterilize containers.
What the consumer sees are trucks on the road that deliver finished product from processors to retail outlets.
No doubt it’s a contributor, especially since our food tends to travel more than 1,000 miles to reach us, but there is so much more behind the scenes.
If you hope to make a dent in the cost of your food, you’ll have to consider growing vegetables and raising small animals yourself.
Another marketplace alternative is to purchase vegetables and meat in bulk from local producers and stock up your pantry and freezer.
In any event, knowing that fuel and food prices go hand in hand is important to see what the future has in store for us.
Every time there is a problem with refining, an oil embargo, a war in the Persian Gulf, or a flood of investors trying to make a killing in the petroleum market, we’re going to see a spike in the cost of food.
And, as you probably already know, once the food prices go up, it tends to be a ratcheting effect, and they don’t slide back down to where they were before.
For me, the answer lies in growing and raising my own, buying food in bulk and participating in cooperatives.
I’m all in favor of marketplace alternatives. That includes alternatives within the traditional marketplace and external to it.