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Clip coupons. Stop eating at restaurants. Grow a vegetable garden. Learn to do without.
Everywhere you look, the mainstream media–finally waking up to the economic reality facing millions of poor and working-class Americans–are suddenly full of “helpful” suggestions for those feeling the squeeze of rising food prices.
But are platitudes about how best to tighten our belts the answer?
Food inflation is at its worst in more than 17 years today, with prices having risen nearly 5 percent in the past year. The price of staple products is climbing event faster–milk and dried beans are up more than 17 percent; cheese is up 15 percent; rice and pasta 13 percent, and bread 12 percent.
With the official unemployment rate jumping by a half percentage point in May–the biggest one-month increase in 22 years–gas prices climbing to more than $4 a gallon nationally, and a growing number of families hit by skyrocketing mortgages, things are looking exceptionally bleak for many working and poor families across the U.S.
In a new USA Today poll, 54 percent of those surveyed say their standard of living is no better today than five years ago. “Fewer Americans now than at any time in the last half century believe they’re moving forward in life,” concluded a recent report by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center.
That includes their access to food. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 10 percent of U.S. households today are either at risk of, or experiencing, hunger.