Just a smidgen more!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nestled deep within my kitchen drawer of measuring instruments is a three-piece set designed to measure the smallest of amounts. The largest of the three is marked dash, followed by pinch with the smallest...smidgen. These designations were not found among the possessions of previous generations. Grandma and mom were well aware of what each measurement entailed and the importance of such a tiny amount of seasoning in a dish. Favorite recipes often included these "exact" measurements of a dash, pinch or smidgen.

Smidgen...just a small amount, best describes the Missouri food price changes reflected in the second quarter of 2010 compared to the first. The prices on 16 items collected informally across the state each quarter finds eight of the items increased in price while eight decreased. Comparing the quarter-to-quarter prices reveals the overall cost increased 29 cents. The first quarter total was $43.41 and the second quarter prices came in at $43.70.

Meat prices were split with ground chuck, sirloin tip roast and chicken breasts increasing, while bacon and sliced deli ham decreased. Eggs and milk both cost less in the second quarter as did apples, orange juice, and bread. Shredded cheddar cheese was up 41 cents to $3.48 per pound, but the most dramatic jump was in the cost of chicken breasts up 81 cents to $3.36 per pound.

Prices showing sharp declines included eggs, down 59 cents a dozen to $1.14, and bacon down 48 cents to $3.03 per pound. Tighter supplies of wholesale meat due to smaller livestock herds likely contributed to the modest increase in some meat items. Whole milk prices dropped from $3.45 to $3.25 per gallon due to larger milk supplies.

Missouri shoppers again found grocery store prices lower than the national average of $47.20, saving $3.50 for the same 16 food items. Missouri shoppers found five items cost more in our state, 10 cost less and one was the same. Due to our central location, less transportation is required on many products which, in turn, impacts cost.

Grocery store prices fluctuate, but the supply remains strong for consumers. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest of any country in the world.

Diane Olson, of Jefferson City, Mo., is the director of promotion and education for the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state's largest farm organization. Missouri Farm Bureau, 701 South Country Club Drive, Jefferson City, MO 65102 * Voice (573) 893-1468 * Fax (573) 893-1855 * www.mofb.org.