(This was first published 2017)

As you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal this year, I’m guessing that perhaps you don’t think to be thankful for the cost of food in the USA. This year’s Thanksgiving meal is more affordable than ever before.

The latest price survey of typical food products on the Thanksgiving table (source the American Farm Bureau Federation) found that the cost of a typical meal went down again this year.

Feeding ten people will cost an average of $49.12, compared to last year’s cost of $49.87. The same report notes that the cost of Thanksgiving adjusted for inflation is 23% less costly now than it was in 1986. On average that means the average hourly worker has to work 2.21 hours to afford the meal vs. 3.21 hours in 1986.

So, here’s your Thanksgiving ‘food for thought’. What caused these low and falling prices? Was it just an accident? Was the weather better, creating more crops? Did farmers just produce more food for some unexplainable reason?

Nope, I don’t think so. The reason food is cheap and abundant in our country is that the free market was unhampered from producing, processing and distributing food.  Far as I know we do not need to sign in at Food.gov to buy food, and there are no federal requirements that determine which foods you must buy – and no price controls on most food items. Farmers constantly strive for greater yields and lower costs, as they look to make more money through increased harvests.

Also, my local grocery store (and yours I believe) operates on really thin margins to induce customers to move from the store down the street. This makes food as low-cost as possible.

And one more thing – market forces have not only resulted in abundant food crops here, but also to reduction of starvation in the rest of the world. The population share of people who are undernourished has dropped 40% (not a typo) from 1990 to 2015. (Source – the UN stats). Compare that to Venezuela and similar socialist countries that must deal with chronic food shortages.

So, I suggest you consider adding, when you give thanks for your family and abundant circumstances this Thanksgiving, a prayer of thanks for your cheap, affordable meal. Amen!

Ronald P. Denk, CFP®
Investment Advisor
Denk Strategic Wealth Partners
10000 N. 31st Avenue, Suite C-262
Phoenix, AZ 85051
Phone (602) 252-8700
Fax (602) 252-8701
Toll-Free (877) The-Denk

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