Coping with Food Price Increases

I got an hour on the plot today after an afternoon spent on the largest construction project since the pyramids, my new shed. It now has working electric sockets inside and out as well as panels from the old shed which will become shelves etc.

So, back to the plot where the greenhouses were in need of water. It’s not been exactly sunny weather here and we had some rain but that doesn’t get into the greenhouses so watering continues whatever the weather.

I got nearly half a carrier bag of tomatoes although that’s nearly the lot now. Still, considering they’ve been hit by blight and I lost all the outdoor tomatoes we’ve not done badly. Val tells me we have enough tomato sauce in the freezer to last until next year at least and we’ve been eating fresh organic tomatoes every day. I got yet another cucumber and a load of chilli peppers. We’ve not actually finished the chilli peppers from last year yet. These had just been strung and air dried in the greenhouse. One word of warning, dried chilli peppers are quite a lot stronger than the fresh.

I also got a few sweet peppers and some aubergines although something has been nibbling at them they’ll be fine.

Down onto plot 5 where the last of the sweetcorn came off, about 10 cobs. They’re not the biggest or best we’ve had this year but the price is right! I love bonus crops, but I’m a sucker for a bargain anyway.

Got a courgette on the way down to the runner beans and for a failure they’ve not done badly in the end. I got about four pounds off and there are quite a few more developing. The final tally will depend on when the first frosts come.

Food Prices Set to Rise

Recently I said that nowadays people don’t grow their own vegetables to save money. In fact if you cost in the labour then you’d probably be better off to do some overtime and buy your vegetables. Listening to the radio today, I may have to eat those words.

I did point out on here some time back that the freaky weather this year will have hit the farmers badly and this is bound to push up prices. In fact there’s been strange weather all over this year. Parts of Europe have been scorching and this has hit food production as badly, if not worse, than the cold wet summer in other parts.

The upshot is that basic foodstuffs are rocketing up in price. I don’t think we’ll go short of food in the rich west but we will be paying quite a bit more.

It isn’t just vegetables that have been hit, cereal crops like wheat were hit as well. The fodder crops that feed the animals that in turn produce our meat and dairy products have shot up. With modern farming these fodder crops are a very significant proportion of the farmer’s production cost. Have you noticed how milk and butter have risen in price recently?

There was an interview with a chicken farmer who has had a 40% rise in bulk wheat prices. He’s now losing money on every bird he sells, which is unsustainable in the long term so his prices will have to rise. The major processed food companies are warning of price hikes as well. Business works on percentages and if their raw materials go up by 30% then the finished product rises by the same. The retailer has his margin as well so a rise in raw material cost of 50p can end up being £1.50 when it hits the checkout.

Our answer to this is to:

Grow as much of our own as we can. We’re very near 100% self-sufficient in vegetables and intend to keep it that way.

Avoid buying processed foods like ‘ready-meals’, which we do anyway. Make your own. We’re busy people but it doesn’t take much longer to make a large batch of spaghetti sauce and freeze portions than to make one meal.

Capitalise on bargains. If the supermarket has cream reduced then it can be stored as butter or milk can turned into cheese. Cottage cheese is so easy to make and tastes wonderful as well. There’s info on making your own in the allotment foods bit of the site.

Waste not, want not. I read that 30% of the food purchased doesn’t actually get eaten. It seems incredible but apparently people buy things that just sit in the fridge until they go past the use by date and then get dumped. Or half packets that never do get used up. If you look on the packet, many foods will have the magic words ‘suitable for home freezing’

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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