Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Disparity Widens Between SoCal Cost of Living and U.S. Average

As if stratospheric home prices and skyrocketing gas prices weren't enough to break a San Diegan's wallet, now there's one more cost hike to worry about: food. Full Focus reporter Amita Sharma has mor

As if stratospheric home prices and skyrocketing gas prices weren't enough to break a San Diegan's wallet, now there's one more cost hike to worry about: food. Full Focus reporter Amita Sharma has more.

The price tag on most staples like milk, bread, eggs, cereal and the favorites ranging from soda to cookies has spiked nearly 6 percent over last year.

For 80-year-old Betty Courtney, higher grocery costs make the difference between eating a full meal and skipping basic food items. Courtney lives on a fixed income and says she's not buying very much meat these days because she can't afford it.

Courtney : I just manage somehow. It don't know. It's really hard. You just cut out a lot of things that you used to buy. You just buy certain things. I think that's what most women do.

Geoffrey Vanleeuwen is managing higher food costs by clipping coupons. He saved nearly $20 on groceries this morning by "shopping smart" as he puts it. That gives him a degree of control he says over a situation that is beyond his power.

Vanleeuwen : You just deal with it. It's like getting dealt a bad hand. You've just got to work around it you know. I could complain but how much good is it going to do? Everybody as individuals ..they all talk but they never get together as a group. I hope I don't get deported for saying this but this country was founded on a revolution and I think it could be changed the same way.

But even a revolution may not have stopped grocery prices from climbing. The San Diego Association of Government's chief economist Marney Cox says the freeze last fall that damaged fruits and other crops, and energy prices including the cost of corn used in both food and ethanol have contributed to the increase in food costs. There are also other factors at work.

Cox : The rise in demand that's taking place internationally. China and India, growth affluence. They're buying more different types of food than they ever have in the past and that is shutting some of the supply that would otherwise be available to other parts of the world today again increasing the prices.

Cox predicts some San Diegans will adjust their lifestyles and start cooking at home more frequently.

Cox : As opposed to going out because then you have the service you're saving on so likely we can see some of that. We can also likely see a shift in buying patterns of the type of food available. For example, they have a lot of food that is prepackaged but the packaging costs money so you may revert to the unpackaged form.

In the meantime, the bureau of labor statistics reports that Food prices in 2007 are increasing at their highest rate in years.

It appears that San Diego and Southern California are bearing the brunt of the higher prices. For example, oranges in Southern California are 75 percent more than they were last year while in other parts of the nation the increase is just half of that. The price of milk has gone up 30 percent more than it was last year, compared to about four percent elsewhere.

The main culprit of the disparity between Southern California and the rest of the nation is higher gas prices.