Jackie Gingrich Cushman

The AP article title “Sam's Club, Costco limit rice purchases as prices rise,” by Marcus Kabel, caught my eye. 

Just last night, as my mother fixed rice for my children’s dinner, she mentioned the increase in its price.  At the time, I did not pay much attention, and certainly did not expect to read about U.S. rice rationing in the headlines the next day.

And it’s not just rice. The average price of gas is at an all-time high of more than $3.50 per gallon; this year, rice prices have risen 70 percent.  Total food costs are projected to rise 5 percent this year.  Based on the recent price stickers I have seen in the grocery store, my guess is that it will be higher.

In a recent CNN article, “Mom’s new battle: The food price bulge,” cancer researcher, mother and wife Amanda Richardson noted that the price squeeze has taught her an important lesson, while she has managed to lower total food costs while prices have climbed.

"Before, we were incredibly wasteful. We'd let food go bad. I am more conscientious now," she said. "If prices go back down, I won't return to my wasteful ways."

People are beginning to cut back on eating out and buying luxury items - but are also starting to trade between categories.  Maybe having an iPhone is more important than dining out, or a night dining out at a nice restaurant is more important than a new dress.  People are beginning to weigh trade-offs a bit more seriously. 

Maybe, just maybe, some good will come from the oil and food price increases, if we simply think from a positive perspective, and remember that, like all phases, this too will pass.

The 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), noted that an estimated 66 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese.  This is probably not new news to you. And you probably realize that this is not good news.  Not good for the 66 percent who carry excess weight (and possibly endure health-related problems).  Nor for the dwindling 34 percent of the population who will help subsidize the increased health-care costs of the majority.

Maybe as a counter to higher oil prices and food prices, we can begin to tighten our belts a bit – and I mean literally.  Following are a few ideas.

1.         Drive less, walk and bike more

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.