If you want to save money on food, stop buying granola and ice cream. Why? Because factors beyond your control are driving up the cost of those and other foods, like wine, popcorn, and apples. Weird weather is playing a big role, but there are factors impacting our massive, interconnected food system and making it hard for you to save a buck. So what are you supposed to do about it? Put down the coupons. We’ve got some better ideas for keeping your grocery bill from overinflating.
In 2010, apple farmers on the east coast lost nearly $37 million because of damage caused by the brown marmorated stink bug, an invasive species that seems impervious to pesticides. The population that year had soared because of a warm winter in 2009, and it looks like farmers can expect the same kind of alien invasion this year because of 2011’s mild winter, says Tracy Leskey, a research entomologist at the USDA. While farmers and scientists are getting better at controlling these foul-smelling pests, there’s still the potential for some serious damage to eastern apple orchards.
Cheaper swap: Farmers won’t know how much damage they’ve had until the harvest starts in a few weeks, and if there was a lot, you may not see apple prices rise for another few months. Stink bugs seem to favor the East Coast, so keep an eye out for organic apples from Washington State if you’re having a hard time finding good local apples.
Learn More: Heirloom Apples