Report from Louisiana: Soaring Costs

Posted: May 9, 2022 by Pat Austin in Uncategorized
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Photo by Krzysztof Hepner on Unsplash

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – When I read an article about rising food costs and see something like “Milk is 13% more expensive than last spring, and beef prices are up 16% over last year,” those numbers are vague to me. They don’t process. I can look at 13% and 16% and know those are pretty good price jumps, but the impact of rising food prices is much more obvious when you look at individual items.

For example, one of the things we purchase is cat litter. Six months ago, we were paying $3.56 for a 5 lb. bag; now, the same bag is just over $5.  I sometimes purchase these little individual cups of Del Monte grapefruit for grab and go breakfast. Six months ago, it was right at $1 for one of these; now it’s $1.53. I guess that is still a low cost for breakfast, but it’s indicative of a much larger problem.

These rising prices are affecting everything you put in your shopping cart. A store manager recently told me that the rising costs stem from having to pay more for materials, for inks to print labels, to the higher cost of producing the product you are actually buying, and the transportation to get it to your store. Even labor shortages contribute to higher costs.

Part of the problem is all of that stimulus money which has to be reabsorbed back into the system; more money floating around means rising prices. Another factor is soaring fertilizer prices, the effects of which will continue to make food costs rise worldwide.

Bottom line is that even to a non-economist person like me, we can see that prices of literally everything we buy are soaring and there seems to be no end to it.

More than once lately I have wished for a big vegetable garden; sadly, I don’t have enough sun in my yard to even grow a tomato plant.

Because my husband is retired military, we have access to the commissary which has traditionally offered lower prices for many items, but now this is one area where shortages are quite evident, and shelves are bare. Prices seem to be about in line with prices everywhere else now. While there is still some savings to be had on certain items there, the bottom line is that comparison shopping is becoming an art form.

We have been watching sale flyers for the grocery stores and stocking up on shelf-stable items when we can. If coffee is on sale, we stock up. I find I’m buying fewer snack items (not a bad thing!) that before and I’m stretching leftovers and being more mindful about waste.

It makes me worry about the working poor – and maybe I’m in that group! – who don’t qualify for government assistance but who isn’t wealthy either. Between rising gas prices, rising food prices, and overall inflation, we will all be on tighter budgets for some time to come.

Clipping coupons has never been my thing; I either forget them or resent having to by a dozen of something just to save a quarter, but maybe I need to take another look!

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and at Medium; she is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

  1. Pod Hamp says:

    Too bad you can’t grow a garden in your yard. I’ll bet the growing season is dang near all year round there. I just bought three more pepper plants to replace three green chile starts killed by frost last week. Our tiny yard here has supported a garden for the 25 years we have lived here, and it sometimes surprises me how much we can harvest from a few raised beds. It most likely doesn’t save us much money but gives us a feeling of self sufficiency.