My husband and I recently took a trip and all along the way the above scene was what we saw. Corn fields ought to still be green this time of year, but this year's extreme hot and dry weather has devastated crops. This situation isn't unique to the few states we crossed as it can be found all across the country. Taking into consideration that one fourth of products on store shelves ranging from foods to toiletries contain an ingredient derived from corn (3), not to mention the use in animal feed and automobile fuel, the impact will soon be evident by means of higher prices on an extraordinary amount of products we all consume. There are other crops that have been impacted by the drought. However, because corn is the largest crop grown and most diversely used it will be the one that the most attention will be given. There are a few ways to lessen the toll increasing prices will have on the family budget. Some tips will be appropriate to do now before the prices increase such as stocking up while supply and prices are still good, and others can be done when the true need arises.
Groceries will be the biggest area to see high prices. Three quarters of our grocery products contain a corn-derived ingredient (5). These components can be found in nearly every packaged/process/convenience food. Moreover, animal feed is comprised of corn or corn products. As a result, meat and dairy products are expected to also increase as high as up to 10%(5).
~Make the shift from packaged/processed/convenience food products to real/whole foods. Begin learning how to work with raw ingredients to create meals yourself. In essence, take a back to basics approach when it comes to food and meal preparation. You'll be surprised at how much you'll be able to do with your own hands! Familiarize yourself with corn-derived ingredients and select other options whenever possible.
~Prices aren't expected to increase until the end of 2012 or beginning of 2013 (5 & 6), and so take advantage of the prices currently in meats by stocking up in your freezer. Keep in mind that not all meats have the same life in the freezer. For instance, ground meat will keep well for up to three months while steaks and roasts will last up to six months.
~If you can afford it, select grass-fed meat and dairy products. Although these animals aren't given corn in the same fashion as conventional animals, there may still be a price increase. Grass-fed meats and diary products are a better choice regardless of conditions, but are very pricey. If you can allot for it in the budget, then this would be a good time to go for it. If not, then wise use of whatever you can afford is best.
~Decrease consumption of meat or dairy products and supplement with vegetarian options. Plan menus to include meatless meals. Use beans and quinoa for a protein source. You don't necessarily have to cut out meat or dairy products entirely because prices will be high. Just find a balance between meat meals and veggie meals. (My hubby is a meat-lovin' man, but we've done half meat and half mealtless meals each week and been satisfied in doing so. It is possible to do even if your man loves meals with meat as the main portion).
Changes in the price of crude oil as well as corn-derived ethonol will impact the gas prices.
Suggestions: The greatest strategy here is to apply ways to conserve gasoline usage.
~ Maintain your vehicle and tires in optimum condition.
~ Limit how much you drive by skipping trips or doing your errands all at once. Not only will you save in gas, but also in the wear and tear of your vehicle!
Electricity costs increase during a drought. Unlike the corn related issues stated above, higher electricity costs result from a decrease in water used to cool the generating plants and excess work required to keep your home cool in high temperature weather. My husband and I have seen this result in our bill compared to last year and you probably have too.
Suggestion: The greatest strategy here is to again apply ways of conserving.
~Set your thermostat to the highest tolerable temperature. Attempting to keep a 70 degree or less home in 100+ degree weather is tough on the system. You don't have to sweat in your own home, but if you need a sweater then perhaps bump up the setting.
~Use heat generating appliances early in the morning or late at night. The oven, stove, clothes dryer etc. put out heat that warms your space and causes your air conditioning to kick on more frequently. Simply, move the time of day you conduct this activity. On extremely hot days, plan salads for meals to give the stove a break. Also, clothes dried outside save a lot of energy not to mention leaving them sun-bleached and fresh smelling!
All of the above are simply suggestion for how to lessen the impact that is expected to be had from this year's drought-ridden corn crop. Yes, the prices will likely go up but these things generally do fluctuate. The best tip of all is to not panic. Following just a few of these tips will help you to not feel the impact as much. Choose what is appropriate for your family. If you notice, all of the mentioned suggestions are valid regardless of the external conditions. It's wise to conserve and be mindful of what we consume regardless of economic/agricultural prosperity or decline. In fact, doing so during a plentiful time will allow you to better handle a time of less.
1. Corn-Derived Ingredients
2. List of Corn Products (click "Corn Products" under the header "Market")
3. Issues in American Commodity Farming
4. In a World Without Corn...
5. How the Drought Will Affect Consumers (and What You Can Do About It)
6. How the Drought Will Cost You
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