Growing up, my parents preached quite a few life lessons to us. Their favorites included the value of hard work, the importance of good character, essentialness of polite manners and, their absolute favorite, gratitude.

Food left on my plate, I’m full and want to be excused from the table? “There are hungry little boys and girls out there that would eat that right up.”

I’d like a cell phone because I’m one of three in the entire class without one? “You don’t need one. Be grateful for what you’ve got.”

At sixteen, I don’t want to drive the old farm truck to school, because everyone else’s parents are buying them newer vehicles? “You should be grateful we’re giving you a vehicle to drive. I had to mow lawns for 25 cents an hour to save up for mine.”

Much like my grumblings growing up, as food prices have quickly risen over the past few years, there are more and more grumblings about it. Some of those grumblings are directed at the farmer. The farmer, who in reality, receives only 11.6 cents of every dollar spent on food.

food dollar, food prices, how much does the farmer get?

Even though we’re spending more on food, over the last eighty years we’ve spent less of our disposable income on it. This means that our disposable income has increased faster than food prices have. In recent years, despite food prices rising faster than before, the percent of our disposable income spent on food has been consistent.

food prices, food dollar,

Why are we grumbling about food prices?

Let’s compare the United States to the rest of the world. Referencing statistics by the U.S. Census Bureau on the percentage of household expenditures that were spent on food at home (no data was found containing worldwide information about the amount spent at home and away from home), the United States is the lowest on the chart with just 6.8% of household expenditures spent on food at home. Like many developed countries, we eat out quite often. Combining expenditures spent at home and away from home puts our total food expenditures at about 9 to 10%. Let’s compare that 10% to countries such as Azerbaijan, Norway, Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Ukraine, Jordan, and Mexico—all of whom spend more than 40% of their total expenditures on food. Forty percent!

We’re looking pretty good, aren’t we?

In the world we live in, over 925 million people go hungry. “In round numbers, there are 7 billion people in the world. Thus, with an estimated 925 million hungry people in the world, 13.1 percent, or almost 1 in 7 people are hungry” (World Hunger).

hunger, food prices, world hunger

Why are we grumbling about food prices?

We shouldn’t be. This is one of those situations that calls for taking a step back, looking at everything we have and getting an attitude of gratitude. Is it still a little painful to have to dole out that extra cash while grocery shopping? Sure. But, like my experiences with wanting to be excused from the dinner table with food still on my plate, wanting a cell phone and a nicer vehicle, this pain of not always getting what we want will provide the opportunity to look around and become grateful for everything we’ve got.

erin ehnle, grateful, thankful

Erin Ehnle
Illinois Central College student

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