by: J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Food prices are skyrocketing. Part of the reason why is because, as the world's population rises, so too has food consumption.
But one of the primary reasons why prices are climbing so dramatically is because fuel prices have shot up in the past year. Yet even as gas and diesel prices have begun to fall recently, food costs haven't.
According to fuel price-tracking Web site Gasbuddy.com, prices have slipped nearly 20 cents in the past month, or just over 5 percent. But prices for commodities and some staples like coffee, bacon, fruits, meat, pastas and other items have shot up 40 percent in the past year. Cotton, too, has risen dramatically, making clothing more expensive.
As an example, the price of grapes has climbed 30 percent, while cabbage has risen 17 percent and orange juice 5 percent.
And while the government's official inflation rate of 3.6 percent (annualize) doesn't seem serious, that figure is masking the true cost of a number of commodities Americans traditionally buy.
For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – a division of the Labor Department which tracks the costs of 76 items – said coffee has gone up 40 percent in the past year. Celery is 28 percent higher, and butter has risen 26.4 percent.
So, as commodity prices climb, consumers are also suffering from rising unemployment and falling home values, with little relief in sight.
And as always, those Americans who earn the least are being hit the hardest.
"This is a serious problem in the middle- to lower-income parts of the country," Richard Hastings, consumer strategist at Global Hunter Securities in Newport Beach, Calif., told CNBC.com. "A little bit of inflation in the United States is actually a big problem because of how many lower-income people we have. It's a serious long-term fiscal problem."
Some food products – tomatoes, wine, boneless chicken breasts – have come down in price. But overall, most food prices are rising and, experts believe, that is a pattern that won't soon reverse itself.
Moreover, the heady days of robust economic growth in the U.S. could be a thing of the past too – at least for the foreseeable future.
"We're going to have to get used to a good growth rate being 3 percent, simply because of globalizations and the problems that are attached to it," says Peter Cardillo, chief economist at Avalon Partners in New York, according to CNBC.com.
"The glorious days of our economy growing at 5 or 6 percent are not likely to happen for many more years, if they ever happen."