It seems the drought is all we talk about, and rightly so. The nation is in the worst drought it has seen in 50 years, with two-thirds of the U.S. experiencing hot, dry weather that is scorching crops, drying up pastures and raising prices for producers and consumers alike.
To combat the rise in food prices, one newspaper located in the heart of cattle and crop country and close to North Dakota State University -- a popular agriculture school for future farmers and ranchers -- printed an opinion piece submitted by a reader suggesting that people should give up animal products to save money during the drought.
“The dry, hot weather is sending food prices soaring – especially for people who eat meat, eggs and dairy products,” writes Heather Moore, who submitted her edtiorial to the Fargo Forum. “If you’re concerned about your grocery bills – or your health – now would be a good time to start buying vegan foods instead of animal-based ones,” she suggests.
Moore tells her readers that consumers will have to foot the bill for the rising price of corn fed to livestock; however, she doesn’t include the fact that many grocery store goods are corn-based items. This includes food items that vegans might choose in lieu of meat products, such as cereals, breads, candies, crackers and chips. In fact, she expects these items to be cheaper.
“It’s cheaper, not to mention healthier and kinder, to eat grains and soybeans – and all the foods that can be made from them – directly rather than funneling them through farmed animals to produce animal products,” she says. “While shoppers will see a spike in milk and meat prices, they probably won’t see a significant increase in the cost of corn on the cob, cornflakes or other plant-based foods sold in supermarkets. Whole grains, beans, vegetables and other wholesome plant-based foods are even more of a bargain when you factor in the medical bills that you might rack up if you eat lots of fatty, cholesterol-laden meats, eggs and dairy products,” she says.
How original -- blaming our nation’s health woes on animal products.
Perhaps she should consider the nutritional profile of meat, eggs and dairy -- all foods that provide essential nutrients, complete protein and healthy fats to fuel the body. Check out this blog post on the topic: Jude Capper On Brain Food.
Admittedly, Moore does have one thing right: meat prices are indeed expected to rise. The USDA predicts that, “chicken and turkey prices will rise 3.5-4.5%, and that egg prices will likely climb by as much as 4%. Beef prices are also expected to rise between 3.5-4.5% this year and then by 4-5% in 2013. Pork will cost more in the coming year as well.”
Moore closes with this: “Whether you’re watching your budget, your waistline or just the weather channel, it’ll pay to go vegan. But if you need some extra exercise, feel free to do a rain dance anyway.”
While I wholeheartedly disagree with Moore’s article, it’s true that most of us -- whether we are livestock producers or are consumers shopping for foods to feed our families -- are having to tighten the pursestrings during this drought.
Carrie Johnson, South Dakota State University Extension family resource management field specialist, offers some advice for living on less when prices rise.
“Analyze your spending. Take a look at what you have spent in the last two to three months and categorize it. Be honest with yourself and look at all you are spending, including credit card charges and even the quick trip to the convenience store for your morning coffee,” Johnson suggests.
Read all of her money-saving tips here.
What do you think about the suggestion to go vegan to save money? Are you as upset about the article as I am? Does it seem strange that a reporter in the heart of a city that is home to an agricultural college would suggest these things? How are you saving money during the drought? What advice do you have for others to stay financially sound as prices rise?