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Touting cheap food

WORTHINGTON -- Americans enjoy the safest, cheapest, most abundant food supply in the world, and members of the Nobles County Farm Bureau Federation hoped to get that message across to consumers Friday afternoon at Hy-Vee in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- Americans enjoy the safest, cheapest, most abundant food supply in the world, and members of the Nobles County Farm Bureau Federation hoped to get that message across to consumers Friday afternoon at Hy-Vee in Worthington.

In recognition of National Food Check-out Week, Feb. 4-10, Farm Bureau chapters from across the country sponsored events to celebrate the nation's cheap food supply. The local chapter, in conjunction with Hy-Vee, Farm Bureau Financial Services, Nobles-Rock Cattlemen's Association, Nobles County American Dairy Association and Nobles County Corn & Soybean Growers, was giving away $550 or more in gift cards for winners in the registration to use at Hy-Vee. Members of the Worthington High School FFA Chapter were also on hand to bag groceries for customers.

According to statistics from the American Farm Bureau Federation, it takes just 36 days for the average individual or family to earn enough disposable income to pay for their food supply for the entire year -- that includes buying groceries and away-from-home meals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service reports the amount of money Americans spend on food represents 10 percent of their disposable personal income -- or about $2,400 per person, on average.

In 1970, it took the average person 51 days to earn enough disposable income to pay for their yearly food supply. By 1980, it took 49 days for consumers to generate enough income for their food.

"Food is not getting cheaper, but to the comparative relative income, it's a better buy than it was in 1980," said Nobles County Farm Bureau president Dean Christopherson.

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At the same time, the farmer's share of every dollar consumers spend on food has decreased -- from 31 cents in 1980 to 19 cents today.

Christopherson said the farmer's share has declined because more money today is spent on advertising and marketing food, and grocery store employees make more money today than they used to.

Food Check-out Week began in 1998 on a nationwide level to celebrate the abundance and affordability of food in the U.S.

"Food is a very good buy in the United States," said Christopherson.

"If you look at what other countries pay for food, we're one of the cheapest countries for food," added Nobles County Farm Bureau member Henry Pfeil.

In Japan, for example, the average person spends 26 percent of his disposable income on food for the year; it's 18 percent in France, 21 percent in Germany, 28 percent in South Africa and 33 percent in Mexico.

In comparison to the 36 days Americans must work to pay for their yearly food supply, The Tax Foundation reports it takes them 36 days to generate enough income to pay for recreation, clothing and accessories; 39 days to pay state and local taxes; 52 days to cover health and medical care; 62 days for housing and household operation expenses; and 77 days to pay their federal tax bill.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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