Food Cost and Farm Production

In America, we’re blessed with some of the most productive farmland in the world – from the fruit groves of the West Coast to the Midwest’s amber waves of grain. Our fertile farmland gave our nation the foundation to grow and prosper over centuries. We lose nearly 40 acres of farmland every hour – and once farms are bulldozed and paved over, that land is gone forever. Between 1982 and 2010, the United States developed more than 24 million acres of agricultural land – an area the size of the states of Indiana and Rhode Island combined.

U.S. residents spent on average about $2,273, or about 6.4 percent of their annual consumer expenditures, on food in 2012, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). As a percentage of consumer expenditures, that is less than any of the 83 other countries for which the USDA tracks data.

Our spending on food — proportional to our income — has actually declined dramatically since 1960, according to a chart recently published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The average share of per capita income spent on food fell from 17.5 percent in 1960 to 9.6 percent in 2007. (It has since risen slightly, reaching 9.9 percent in 2013.) This slight increase may be due to enticing items at the grocery store such as an avocado for $1.50, $8 chocolate bar, fresh wild Alaskan salmon for $20 a pound, or organic brown eggs for $4.95 a dozen.

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