A meandering blog with no clear topic. You will find me talking about knitting, building, kids, social and economic issues, Alaska, and lots of other stuff.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Alaska food prices and the search for rice

I have been noticing that when I go grocery shopping lately, it seems like it keeps getting more and more expensive. Everything just seems like it costs more each time I go shopping. Anecdotally, it is obvious that prices are increasing much more than the official annual inflation rate of 4.6%. Well, I was right.  In Anchorage, grocery prices have increased 10% in the last three months.  Check this out:
And if you read the article, you see that while food in general has risen 10%, most staple items have risen much more than that.  Rice is up 85% if you can get it at all, ground beef is up 18%, eggs 22%, cheese 61%.  Flour is way up too, if you can get it, although the article doesn't say by how much. 
I also suspect that prices are rising exponentially in the bush, where everything costs at least twice as much as it does in Anchorage, because of the transportation issues.  Their fuel costs have been much higher this winter too, and there are some villages that never even got their fall shipment of diesel and heating oil.  I have talked to more than one family that has moved into town for the winter because they can't keep their house warm.
I mentioned earlier that rice and flour are costing more if you can get it.  I was serious.  For the last week, there has been no rice at Costco.  When they do get it in, it sells immediately, with long lines of people waiting in line for the store to open. Costco has had to post security guards at the rice pallets because people have been fighting over it.  I'm talking  fistfights and bags being torn because people are playing tug of war over them.  At Fred Meyer, there were a few one-pound bags of rice last week, same with Wal-mart.  I was at Wal-mart last night, and there was no rice except the boxes of flavored or instant stuff, and no flour.  At all.  No rice and only a little flour at Three Bears.  Here in Alaska, we are at the end of a very long supply line, and I figure that when there are shortages, we may very well be the first in the US to feel them.
I am taking my garden very seriously this summer.  I have a 20 x 40 plot dug up, that I will plant intensively in 4' wide beds with peas, cabbage, squash, beans, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, some hardy corn, onions, leeks, garlic, salad greens, etc. I just bought 25 strawberry plants, and will be getting more fruits.  And I also have a separate spot for potatoes, which don't require the ground to be well dug before you plant them.  I am planning on planting lots of potatoes.  Potatoes are exceptionally easy to grow even in Alaska, which is good since I am a beginner, have very heavy yields, and grow a calorie dense crop that stores well without requiring canning or other preservation.  Just put them in a box and keep them someplace cool and dark.  Easy to find in an Alaskan winter, LOL.
I also have been working on my food storage.  I have lots of rice and flour (bought before the current problems), oats, sugar, beans etc.  I have been slowly stocking up on other foodstuffs, such as tomatoes, canned chicken, oil, etc. As I do my normal grocery shopping, I have just been getting more of it than I normally would.  For example, if I need  a case of diced tomatoes, I buy two instead of one, and date them when I get home so I use the oldest first. Or when I need a case of canned corn, I buy two, then one each of green beans, peaches, pineapples, tomatoes, etc.  I also try to buy a box or two of canning lids everytime I go to Wal-mart.  A little at a time, and it adds up.  Makes me feel secure, becuase I know that even if there is a shortage, I can keep my family fed, for a little while at least.


Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm checking in from the food storage yahoo group. The fight for rice sounds pretty bad, something that I'm sure we will see more of in the future in the lower 48. I saw you are posting from work, so I thought I'd let you know it looks fine.


Anonymous said...

Hi. We actually noticed the prices going up in Alaska. So much so that we went out and bought some rice and listed it on eBay. Its 20lb bags of brand name rice and we listed it for about 27$ shipped via USPS. We hope this will help someone. Spread the word, the more we sell the cheaper we can list them for. Copy and paste this address into your browser: