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Why Does Food Cost So Much?

2006-05-17 11:12

  In 1959 the average American family paid $989 for a year’s supply of food. In 1972 the family paid $1311.That was a price increase of nearly one-third.

  Everyone agrees that the cost of feeding a family has risen sharply. But there is less agreement when reasons for the rise are being discussed. Who is really responsible?

  Many blame the farmers who produce the vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, and cheese that stores offer for sale. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the farmer’s share of the $1311 spent by the family in 1972 was $521.This was thirty-one percent more than the farmer had received in 1959.But farmers tend to blame others for the sharp rise in food prices. They particularly blame those who process the farm products after the products leave the farm. These include truck drivers, meat packers, manufac- turers of packages and other food containers, and the owners of stores where food is sold. They are among the “middlemen” who stand between the farmer and the people who buy and eat the food. Are middlemen the ones to blame for rising food prices?

  Of the $1311 family food bill in 1972, middlemen received $790, which was thirty-three per cent more than they had received in 1959. It appears that the middleman’s profit has increased more than the farmer's. But according to economists at the First National City Bank, the profit for meat packers and food stores amounted to less than one percent. During the same period all other manufacturers were making a profit of more than five per cent. By comparison with other members of the economic system, both farmers and middlemen have profited surprisingly little from the rise in food prices.

  Who then is actually responsible for the size of the bill a housewife must pay before she carries the food home from the store? The economists at First National City Bank blame the housewife herself for the jump in food prices. They say that food costs more now because women don't want to spend much time in the kitchen.

  Economists remind us that many modern housewives have jobs outside the home. They earn money that helps to pay the family food bills. The housewife naturally has less time and energy for cooking after a day's work! She wants to buy many kinds of food that can be put on her family's table easily and quickly.

  “If the housewife wants all of these,” the economists say, “that is her privilege, but she must be prepared to pay for the services of those who make her work easier.

  It appears that the answer to the question of rising prices is not a simple one. Producers, consumers, and middlemen all share the responsibility for the sharp rise in food costs.

  1959年,美国家庭一年购买食品的平均支出为989美元,1972年的平均支出为1311美元,这就是说食品价格上涨了近三分之一。

  人们一致认为养活一个家庭的费用急剧上升,可是,一谈到涨价的原因则众说纷纭,莫衷一是。究竟是谁负有责任呢?

  许多人指责生产蔬菜、水果、肉类、鸡蛋和乳酪的农民囤积出售。据美国农业部的资料显示,从这种家庭在1972年所支出的1311美元中,农民摊得521美元。这笔费用超过了农民1959年收入的百分之三十一。但农民们却指责其他人对食品价格上涨负有责任,特别指责那些从农场运出农产品,并对农产品进行加工的那些人。他们是卡车司机,肉类包装工,包装箱和其他食品容器制造业者,以及销售食品的商店老板。他们是站在农民与食品购买者和消费者之间的“中间人”,因食品涨价而受指责的该是这些中间人吗?

  从1972年1311美元的家庭食品账单中,中间人摊得790美元,占他们1959年收入的百分之三十三以上。看起来中间人的利润增长超过了农民,可是,据第一国民城市银行的经济学家们说,肉类包装工和食品商店的利润低于百分之一。在同一时期,所有其他制造业者所获得的利润超过百分之五。通过与其它经济部门的成员比较,农民和中间人从食品价格上涨中所获得的利润都少得惊人。

  那么究竟由谁来为家庭主妇们从商店把食品买回家之前所必须支付的账单负实际上的责任呢?第一国民城市银行的经济学家们指责,家庭主妇本人应该对食品价格的大幅度上涨负责。他们说,现在食品的花费多了,是因为妇女们不愿花更多的时间呆在厨房里。

  经济学家提醒我们说,许多现代家庭主妇走出家门,找到了工作。他们挣的钱对支付家庭的食品账单有一定帮助,也就自然而然地花较少的时间和精力用于下班后的做饭做菜上。她想买的是能够即轻松又方便地放在家里餐桌上的各式各样的食品。

  经济学家还说,“如果家庭主妇想得到所有这些“特权”食品,她就必须为那些让她们干活轻松提供服务的人支付费用。

  对价格上涨问题的答案是乎并不简单。生产者,消费者,中间人都对食品费用的急剧上涨负有责任。

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