15 September 2007

Rising prices, what can we do?

I've heard some disturbing reports in the last couple of days from farmers and meteorologists stating that unless we get good rain in Australia - particularly the inland of Victoria and New South Wales, then we could be in for "catastrophic crop losses". There are many reports from reputable government agencies that in coming months the price of food will skyrocket, especially if the drought continues. Other reports state that prices will rise because of the drought and oil prices. The increase in the production of biofuels has helped push up the price of grains.

Some of our primary food producers are on their last legs and one farmer on the ABC last night said that he has been farming for 50 years and has never seen the number of people on smaller farms leaving the land as they are now. If you only read one of the linked reports here, read this one from The Australian. This report in The Age newspaper states that food prices will rise by 50% in the next five years.

Unfortunately, it isn't just Australia facing this problem, it is world-wide. Wheat and oil prices effect world food prices, and I expect that if you did a google search about food prices in your own country, you'd find a similar story.

Simply put, if the drought continues and if oil prices continue to rise, we are in trouble. I don't want to scare anyone and, by nature, I am not a panic merchant, but I've never seen it like this in my lifetime. We all need to prepare for the worst but expect the best. Hopefully the rains will come and all this will fade off into our memories, like the Y2K Bug. But if it doesn't we must be prepared for it.

With the rises in prices we have to think also about the flow-on effect it has on other products. When wheat prices rise, that effects the price of bread, meat, chicken, pasta, eggs, milk and all the items made with these products. A rise in the price of milk and eggs will effect just about all processed food prices like cakes, desserts, processed tinned and frozen foods, ice cream, biscuits/cookies, etc.

We all need to be prepared for this. H and I have a healthy stockpile, laying chooks, water tanks, gardens full of organic fruit and vegetables, and our aquaponics system of vegetables and fish, but we will be auditing our stockpile in the coming week to see what we need to buy to supplement those fresh supplies. I know right now that we'll buy more flour, rice and vegetable seeds. I have secure places to store these things and I know they won't go off.

I want to revisit the subject of stockpiling groceries. I have written about it before here but I want to urge you all to start your stockpiles now, or top them up. Already the cost of wheat and milk has risen, so bread and eggs will rise soon too. Even if you can only stockpile things like flour, rice and other grains it will help. Stockpiling won't insulate you from the rising price of food and fuel, but it will help delay the impact and it will also lessen it.

If you haven't yet started a stockpile, now would be a good time to start. If you have one, check it and stock up on everything you eat that will keep in your cupboard or freezer. It's Spring in Australia, so if you are in Oz, now is the best time to start growing your own fruit and vegetables. I have a feeling that food prices won't be going down again in a hurry. Having a vegetable garden will help, so if you have water tanks or enough water from other sources, think about starting or enlarging the vegetable garden.

Another thing we can all do it to learn how to make more things from scratch. Bread, cakes, biscuits, drinks, jams, sauces and relishes are all easily made at home and will help provide healthy interesting food from your own garden and stockpile. If you're not already cooking from scratch, now is the time to start. Cooking from scratch doesn't mean cooking with tins of soup or other processed ingredients, it means cooking everything from basic unprocessed ingredients. Also think about making your own laundry detergent and soap. They're easy to make and you will save money doing it.

I am really interested in knowing what others think about this. What, if anything, are you doing to prepare? Do you have any suggestions you can share that will help lessen the impact of the drougth and rising prices?

Read through the links I've added here and if you all want to discuss this further, I could write some more about it in the coming week. We are still in a period where the prices haven't risen too much, so now is the time to do something.

ABC article on rising prices.
Courier Mail article on rising price of potatoes.

An american list for a healthy stockpile.


  1. Wheat prices have risen too in Italy and yesterday was boycott the higher price of Pasta by not buying any. It was our headline news yesterday.


  2. I know from since I started my price book, that a lot of items have already increased in price. This summer I will be planting my own veggies and trying to buy more items in bulk (like flour). I have a small stockpile ut have just moved and emptied a cupboard so I can expand it a little as I see items at good prices.I already cook from scratch due to my son's food allergies. Last month I made my own laundry detergent fot he first time too! It is incredibly cheap to make. I love reading your blog every day Rhonda, as it gives me wonderful inspiration on how to live simply and frugally! Thank you. I'd love to read more about this topic. I'm planning a blog post this week myself about frugal recipes :)

  3. Thank you Rhonda for the thought provoking article. I have been paying closer attention to world market issues since 1999 (pre-Y2K). Anything that pertains to the rising price of gas, wheat, food staples, etc. affects us all. There are several preparedness books on the market, but I happen to own "Making the Best of Basics" by James Talmage Stevens. This book includes information on such things as food storage, recipes, and product resources. I would recommend checking to see which books your library has before deciding on which one to invest in. It pays to not only be prepared in case of flooding or hurricanes, but electrical outages, unemployment, etc.

  4. The rising prices are scary but must be especially concerning for those on a fixed income such as the elderly on pensions who may be at a stage in their lives when producing much of their own food would be very difficult.

  5. Thanks for the alert Rhonda. Your blog is a mine of information!

  6. I'm in the uk but we're having similar problems.. in a way, in australia, you're lucky - at least you're in spring, so have a growing season ahead of you! Although i have a veg garden i haven't made as much of it as i could have (partly through inexperience, partly laziness, partly the terrible weather we had this summer - too much rain!) and now i'm starting to think in terms of.. what can i grow over the winter. (very little, i think, but hey, every bit helps!).

    i'm in two minds about stockpiling. on the one hand.. it may be necessary. on the other.. if *everyone* stockpiles then there could be trouble. i can't really afford to stockpile: we're on a very limited budget, and as such, don't really have the cash (or the physical space, we live in a small flat) to store lots of dried food. I do cook from scratch though :)

    oh well. we'll cope, somehow!

  7. Rhonda,
    I wrote a 3 part post on our pantry, what we grow, what we eat, and what we need to do to increase our self-sufficiency. It might be helpful to others to see how one American family is striving to stay ahead of the rising prices.

    The posts are down on the page just a little bit.


  8. Hi Kim, can you post a link here for my readers. It's good to see what is working for other stockpilers.


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