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"Food Checkout Week" In Ohio Cause for Celebration

February 17, 2009

Columbus, OH – This is "Food Check-Out Week," an annual event to highlight the nation's safe, abundant and affordable food supply. It's held the fifth week of every year, to mark the number of days the typical American has to work to earn enough money to pay for their family's food supply for the year.

If you've noticed that groceries seem to be more expensive lately, it's also time to put that in perspective. Daniel Remley, an extension educator for Ohio State University, points out that, while food prices rise about three percent every year, Americans still spend only about 10 percent of their annual income on food.

"We spend less on food than any other country in the world. In some countries, some families probably spend 60 to 70 percent of their budget on food alone -- so, we really have it well in that regard."

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the percentage of Americans' personal income spent on food has declined over the past three decades. In part, Remley explains, that's because farmers are becoming more efficient and the savings are passed on to consumers.

"We're pretty much the breadbasket of the world. We grow more and more food, with less and less labor, so we're becoming much more efficient, in terms of production."

Marsha Purcell, director of program development for the American Farm Bureau, agrees that food remains affordable largely because of the country's agricultural industries.

"Farmers and ranchers are those who produce the food that is purchased in the supermarket, and many times that link is not made -- people forget that the food came from somewhere, before it made it to the supermarket."

This year, the focus during "Food Check-Out Week" will be on teaching people how to stretch their grocery dollars with nutritious meals on tight budgets. Farm Bureaus in every state will participate.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH