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Oil/Gasoline Prices and Food


jhlurie
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Okay, so I'm driving around today and it occurs to me that it's something I do a lot less of lately.

So I get to thinking... the mere fact that gasoline is sky high (reportedly as much as $7 per gallon in parts of Europe, as much as $3.25 per gallon in parts of the U.S., and STILL nosing the $2.25 mark here in NJ--traditionally a very cheap state for gas)... well this HAS to be affecting the way I go about living my life. And a big part of my life is food, so there's got to be some connections--both obvious and less obvious.

Do I go out driving anymore just for the hell of it to explore, and maybe stumble on some new joint to eat at? No. Am I planning any long weekends driving somewhere? No. Do I nervously check my tank virtually every day and try to calculate (using a website even) if I might possibly need gas AWAY from the station where I KNOW it's as much as 30 cents a gallon cheaper--thus at least indirectly causing me to be more inclined just to stay at home in the first place? Yup.

And I'm sure there are more subtle ways--supplies that are costing me more due to increased freight, for example.

I'm curious how we think this will all turn out long-term, and what other ways it might be affecting our eating life?

NOW TO PUT ON MY MODERATOR HAT FOR A MOMENT: Here, on eGullet, we have a history of managing to do a good job of talking about weighty issues of "food politics", while steering clear of the governmental policy variety. What I'm formally requesting... no that's a weak word... what I'm prepared to enforce if needed (along with the entire eG staff)... is that we keep this topic focused on the EFFECTS of the Oil crisis and not the causes of it. It's an undeniable fact that we are living with the consequences, and those consequences can be analyzed independantly of any political debates about how we got to this point. And if you feel they can't be? Then don't post here at all.

Thanks all for your understanding. Sorry if I come off a bit harsh here, but I think there's a good space to talk here, and I wanted to be clear about parameters.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Since I no longer have a car and hubby only drives to work and back I can't say that I have been directly affected except that more of our money goes to make sure hubby can make money. :angry:

BUT, it's silly to believe that indirect effects will not take effect very soon. Food has to be transported, transportation costs increase when fuel costs increase, hence the price of food will rise. And not just food but anything that must be moved from point A to point B will eventually rise in price - kitchen tools, appliances, housing.... There's no limit, I think.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I don't think we've yet seen the eventual increase to the end user as a result of the fuel prices. At least I don't perceive it yet when I shop. I am, however, convinced that it is coming.

As far as changing my habits. I tend to do my driving in an organized way to begin with (it's hell being a Virgo sometimes) but now I think I am even more cognizant of where I am going, making a list, and even figuring out the route before hand.

Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

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I know I'm hugely lucky in that my job is 5 blocks from my house (it used to be 10 blocks, they actually moved it closer - wasn't that niiiiice of them?), and I live in a well served neighborhood with good grocery stores. So I have nothing to complain about.

What I will toss into the discussion is that this is all the more reason to eat locally, and buy locally produced food. Head to your farmer's markets! We're in the Good season now, and locally grown foods, bought from the farmers will not only help sustain local businesses, but keep your own costs down too.

Easy-Peasy! :biggrin:

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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I am lucky enough to have a car that gets great mileage and I live very close to my work (I can walk if the weather looks like it won't rain, but this is SOuth Louisiana and it rains almost every afternoon in the summer) so I don't use much gas (I fill up every two weeks or so). My wife, on the other hand uses a ton thanks to kid pick up and delivery and that has been causing some wallet pain.

The first time it really hit me, though, was this weekend. I can normally go to our lakehouse for a long weekend with 50 bucks for crickets and gas. This weekend, I easily exceeded a hundred dollars to keep everybody skittering about on boats and jet skis (crickets are rediculously priced as well, but I don't think the price of bait has anything to do with the price of sweet crude :wacko: ).

Where the budget for gas effects food is in how often we eat out. My wife is a serious budgeteer (thank the Lord-I win no prizes in economics in that particular category :wink: ) and the money for gas has been coming from the envelope (literally, as she uses the envelope cash system) formerly reserved for eating out. More leftovers, less po boys.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Thus far the prices arent having a major impact on me but I've already noticed that I'm trying to plan shopping a bit better to avoid unecessary driving. I've also begun driving a bit more conservatively - not acccelerating as quickly and taking longer to slow down (all this yields better mileage). I just dumped my 330,000 mile Toyota and got a new one (new to me - it's a baby with only 108,000 miles on it). The new car has more space but not as good on mpg - I went from 27 city/34 highway to 20 city/27 highway.

If it jumps to $3 or $4 from the current $2.05 to $2.20 range that's in my area.... the little impulse trips like "Let's go to Ithaca for dinner!" (60 miles each way) will beocme much less frequent.

Compounding the problem is the fact that my employer instituted 40% "temporary" pay cuts due to a business slump and other issues. the pay shortage is deeply felt but the good news is that it has me cooking at home much more often - my cooking skills improve and more often than not I eat better than I would in local restaurants.

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Or we can all buy electric cars and plan our outings so that they are never more than 100 miles away. :biggrin: (Ithaca would be too far if you couldn't get a "charge" while you were there...)

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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i haven't given it any thought (except to the extent that i say "wow, that was expensive" when i fill the tank from empty), and it certainly hasn't changed my dining or driving habits. my driving habits aren't all that extensive. i use about 2 tanks a week.

Edited by tommy (log)
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What I will toss into the discussion is that this is all the more reason to eat locally, and buy locally produced food. Head to your farmer's markets!

Thant's a great idea, except the nearest decent farmer's market is half an hour away, unless I take the metro and schlep groceries, stroller and children.

I am less willing to go all over town for my shopping. Typically we buy some things at Whole Foods, some at Trader Joe's, some at the regular grocery, and make a twice monthly trip to Costco. Definitely less of that right now.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I can't say I've given it a ton of thought either.. Hubby usually fills up my car for me on the weekend, so I never notice the price of gas, other than driving by a station. Here gas is anywhere from 81 cents a litre to 92 cents a litre. 81 cents is usually seen at the beginning of a week and 92 cents is usually seen starting on Thursdays just before people start heading up to their cottages. :blink:

The only major thing we changed was instead of taking a trip down East in the RV, we are going to park it at two different campsites for a week each. Now that thing eats gas. And since we do all our own cooking when we camp, we won't be eating out. Hubby is receiving a new BBQ for Father's Day which means if the weather is nice, we'll be eating at home more, but not necessarily because of the increased price of eating out.

I have noticed some vegetables creeping up in price recently though. Whether that has to do with a higher transport cost I don't know.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Canada imports just about all of its fruit and vegetables most of the year, so we are going to feel the impact there. But working at home and living in the middle of a large city has its advantages--almost none of our food shopping involves a car.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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I'm eating less oil and drinking less gasoline.

me too...

no, but really...My mother has been complaining fiercely that her groceries which used to cost 100 bucks a week are now doubled...for the SAME stuff...not to mention the gas it takes to get anywhere costing a ridiculous amount.

But...it's hard to complain when you see it like this: we still have the lowest gas prices of any nation in the world.

But whatever...we should start complaining when the prices reach their peak, not when they are steadily and surely rising.

"Make me some mignardises, &*%$@!" -Mateo

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Grocery stores do seem to be really giving us the shaft lately, produce quality has gone down, and prices up.

2.99 for 8 oz of mushrooms? 3.79 for a head of cauliflower? This stuff is ridiculous, I do all of my veggy shopping at the weekly farmers market now, the only place prices are reasonable.

What really struck me about gas prices, at least here, was that they were steadily creeping towards $2.00 a gallon, and then as soon as they breached that mark, they seemingly instantly shot up another 25 cents per gallon. I would definately do something about it if I could, but I have no idea what I could do about the gas prices. I certainly drive less now if I can help it, but my commute to work is 45 miles each way, so it hurts no matter what.

I have a grocery store within walking distance to my house, but it is overpriced and the goods are craptastic. The better grocery stores are a decent drive away, but the products of higher quality, so I usually just deal with the fact I will have to buy more gas to allow myself better ingredients.

Local delivery places are starting to lube themselves up for what promises to be an anal raping of penal-institution proportions. I have seen a couple without delivery charges recently up them, and others up the minimum order amounts for delivery to even be allowed. Prices have also gone up and delivery specials down, so really, ordering in doesn't look like any more an attractive option that going out.

I'd like to just plant a garden and harvest my own crops so I wouldn't have to deal with a lot of this, but the apartment complex seems to think we need a playground for screaming rugrats more than community garden space. Oh well.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Some of us of a certain age remember the embargo way back when. When you do the math on inflation and such since then, gasoline is not at record high prices now. I think I read somewhere that it was the equivalent of 4 of today's $ a gallon then. That was an age where I was schlepping kids and such and did all of the household errands. I did plan trips to the grocery carefully and of course noticed the increase in the food prices. Mostly the planning was because you had to be able to actually GET gasoline. In cities like Houston there is no alternative to the car for most of the population. I did a calculation of how much I spent per year on gasoline with my particular driving habits and what the actual dollar increase was. At that point in my life, I did have to watch the budget a lot closer than I do now but it still wasn't an overwhelming problem.

I did some similar mental gymnastics the other day when I realized I was going to have to drive 40 miles round trip to get to the closest Fiesta Mart because that was the only place I could reliably get pure ancho powder and pork fat. Depending upon your particular situation, if you do the math and get the true impact, you may find that it won't alter your lifestyle that much. Then you can quit worrying about it and make a decision that it is worth the drive to get the ancho powder and the supplies for making fresh lard and quit worrying about it. At least you can make choices based on the actual dollar impact for you instead of reacting, as we all do, to those alarming 2s on the signs.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Where we are, milk is now far more expensive than gasoline. I paid $2.16/gallon for gas, and $3.79/gallon for regular, non-organic milk.

Well the cost of milk -- and dairy prods in general -- can be a topic for another thread, but the point is well taken that gas insn't the only commodity to have gone thru a recent price spike. Since we must abjure policy debates we shan't speculate as to possible linkages (I really doubt there is any), but what effect has the higher cost of milk had on your cooking and eating habits. If this persists will we see more brittle skeletons and stunted children... :huh:

Oh, J[esus]. You may be omnipotent, but you are SO naive!

- From the South Park Mexican Starring Frog from South Sri Lanka episode

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This is an interesting thread. The elevated gas prices makes me aware that my food-lifestyle was set up in a 'gas is cheap' framework. I routinely make 10 trips (by car) to various grocery stores in the area each week and rarely plan more than a few meals in advance. None of the stores are far away so we still (likely) drive less than the average American but still, it makes me think about my habits.

I think the same 'gas is cheap' drives my food lifestyle in other ways that bolster lala's point about buying locally. I would be far better at cooking seasonally if there was some pain involved in getting fruits and veggies in the winter imported from Chile. Perhaps this winter, if fuel prices remain high, I'll be feasting on more root vegetables...also may need to increase the number of quarts of tomatoes I can this summer.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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Canada imports just about all of its fruit and vegetables most of the year, so we are going to feel the impact there. But working at home and living in the middle of a large city has its advantages--almost none of our food shopping involves a car.

True, but I saw the first Ontario tomatoes today :smile:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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But...it's hard to complain when you see it like this: we still have the lowest gas prices of any nation in the world.

That's actually not true (assuming Bicycle Lee is speaking of the U.S), although it is low compared to most of Europe.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Since I've lived on two very expensive islands previously, high gas prices are sort of don't phase me too much at the gas pumps. I don't like it, but I am being more mindful of doing things more locally and have seen some price increases that I'm less than thrilled about.

When I resided in Sitka, Alaska in 2000 gas prices were already up to $1.85/gallon and for the 2001/2002 season I worked at Put in Bay it was about that same range as well. However at PiB the investment of a water proof Helly Hansen nautical friendly jacket (for the summer drizzles) and walking, biking, a quick Vespa or electric golf cart ride made it easy to get around and it was a small island. However, a major draw back was returning to the mainland to purchase some real food -- in opposition to the hugely over priced goods in the dinky general store or all of the tourist fast food joints. Boat or small Cessna or Piper aircraft was the only way and those fuel prices are always much higher than automobile gasoline.

This made meal planning more important. Trustworthy roomies (if you had to have them) that didn't raid your goodies while you were slaving away making countless margaritas for the island visitors, a good freezer, those newish thermal shopping bags to help keep foods cold on their journey from the real grocery store to your kitchen, and a trusty grill. Often on those traditional slow days like Sundays or Mondays, we'd pot luck with other island employees as the summer progressed, which was a bunch of fun.

Now, I'm lucky that I can walk to both places I show up to work (my real job bartending and my family's wee restaurant venture). I can walk to Westside Market, but now I need to be more mindful and spend more effort of adjusting my schedule(s) to their limited hours as the summer season becomes busier and invest in one of those old lady-type, wire cage grocery carts that you can drag behind you like luggage carts to transport the market purchases without feeling as if your little finger is being cut off. (Durn! Why did I purchase so many grapefruit?!?)

My car gets good mileage, but it has curbed those impulses to drive to the burbs for some grocery purchases or make the longer drives to eat out.

I've felt the large price increases mostly in diary products. Milk! (for personal uses) And cheese!! Geesz, a case of cheese (for work) now has risen from $38 to $50. Nothing like having to eat some cost with a new business start up with either tossing menus and reprinting with a slight price increase or sticking with them until they have runout....

edit: clarity

Edited by beans (log)
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The rise in milk and other dairy products is actually a seperate issue, I think. It actually preceeded the current gas/oil price hikes and is blamed by that industry on old fashioned supply and demand issues. In short, there was a glut of milk providers for many years and over the past few dairy farmers have been selling cattle off (not to mention the Mad Cow scare). Now that's turned around and created a short supply and a large demand again.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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I remember when my (german) husband filled his car here the first time and was pleasantly surprised that the pricing was for gallons, not liters :smile:

Actually, when we moved to the midwest I knew I would have an hour commute to Urbana several times a week. People tried to convince me I would need an SUV (because of the weather!) but after researching quite a bit I went with a little Honda Civic, 40mpg on the highway. I love that car, and in terms of driving in bad weather, frankly, it handles so well I feel a lot safer than if I were in something heavy and prone to tipping.

So no, gas prices have really not affected anything I do. I remain annoyingly smug.

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It doesn't affect me at all. I (purposely) live in a neighborhood that has all I need within walking distance, which includes a farmer's market and a good grocery. I've always thought of driving as a big waste of time and gas, so I minimize trips to places like Trader Joes or certain specialty stores, which are not in my 'hood.

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It would be nice to walk to the store, but when you're buying for 4 people it makes sense to shop large once or twice a week. Especially with large packages like diapers or gallons of milk.

There's a store within walking distance of our house; unfortunately there's no way I could get the groceries and both kids home safely.

Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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