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Serving: WI

Food Check-Out Week

Food Check-Out Week
Event Reminds Consumers of the Privilege to Enjoy Safe, Abundant and Affordable Food.

By Christine Linder

As Americans we are fortunate to live in a country where we spend just 9.8% of our disposable income on food — less than any other country, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). To help remind consumers of this privilege, National Food Check-Out Week, February 20 through 26 brings to light that the average American has already earned enough money to pay their grocery bills for all of 2011.

Christine Linder

The National Food Check-Out Week illustrates how much of consumer's income for one year is spent on food. This event indicates the United States still has the most affordable food in the world according to the USDA; Americans spend just 10 percent of their disposable income on food expenses, while households in countries like India often spend 50 percent of their budget on food.

Food Check-Out Week highlights that it takes just 37 days for the average American to earn enough income to buy all the food they will consume for the year – both at home and in restaurants. During Food Check-Out Week, we celebrate the many benefits Wisconsin's $59 billion agriculture industry brings to the health of every resident and our economy.

As consumers, we spend less on food than many other purchases, and Food Check-Out Week alerts consumers to the value of food relative to other living expenses.  We must work much longer to pay for housing and household operation, 62 days.

American consumers continue to get a good buy with their food dollar thanks to our productive and efficient farmers. As we celebrate Food Check-Out week, the productivity of our farmers, we must recognize a farmer's cost of production is increasing with higher prices for inputs like energy, feed and fuel. Yet, like any business must be innovative and grow using technology, agriculture is a business and embraces these advances as a benefit to consumers. Thanks to new technology, science and tools used by producers on the farm today one farmer feeds 155 people vs. 50 years ago when one farmer fed just 26 people in the United States. Compared to the rest of the world, the less than 10 percent of disposable personal income we spend on food is a bargain. Consumers in other countries are still working for food long after Americans. As countries in Europe spend more than twice what U.S. consumers spend on food costs. While it costs 26% of disposal income to pay for annual food purchases in Thailand and 55 percent in Philippines.  

As shoppers look for the greatest nutritional impact for their dollar spent, Wisconsin locally grown and produced products, like Wisconsin dairy, beef, cranberries, carrots, honey and potatoes provides that impact.  

For example, Wisconsin dairy products provide a powerful package of nine essential nutrients — that helps keep bones strong and bodies healthy. Studies show dairy foods, when consumed as part of a healthy diet, improve overall diet quality and may help to reduce a cluster of conditions that can lead to heart disease and type-2 diabetes. To translate that to the pocketbook, according to the National Dairy Council, if adult Americans increased their intake of dairy foods to three to four servings a day, over $25 billion could be saved in unnecessary healthcare costs in just the first year.

Buying locally produced Wisconsin foods from cherries to cheese is an investment into our state's continued strong future.

When selecting milk, yogurt or cheese, it is important to look for food products that carry the red Something Special from Wisconsin™ logo. This logo indicates products are from local farmers, communities and support the Wisconsin way of life.

According to new consumer research released by IGD, food and grocery analysts, nearly 30% of shoppers say they have specifically purchased local food over the last month, up from 15% in 2006. National support for local foods has doubled in five years and continues to grow.

When purchasing Wisconsin meats at one of the 289 local meat processors, or in the meat case such as Johnsonville in the grocery store, you are buying Wisconsin raised beef and pork which supports Wisconsin agriculture, local producers, communities and economies. When buying Wisconsin foods, your dollar circulates throughout the local community creating jobs and building a strong economic foundation as agriculture employs one out of every ten workers in our state. We all benefit from this economic activity which leads to better public services, roads and schools.

Each Wisconsin food product from potatoes, green beans to cheese, is special and has a unique story to tell. For example, one Something Special from Wisconsin™ product consumers can find in the dairy aisle is Crave Brother's Farmstead Cheese of Waterloo, Wis. This locally produced cheese represents the more than 600 varieties, types and styles of cheeses Wisconsin is known for. This award-winning Wisconsin specialty cheese is made from a farm fresh milk piped directly to the on-farm cheese facility where special flavors are captured in the cheesemaking process all within a few short hours. Crave Brother's Farmstead Cheese illustrates how craftsmanship, quality and freshness are captured in locally produced food.

Locally grown and produced Wisconsin foods are a great consumer value. These products are great tasting, healthy, affordable, and make a difference in consumer's lifestyle. Wisconsin farmers are committed to producing high-quality, safe, and abundant food. The next time you are in the grocery store take action in supporting locally-produced products with your food dollar. This money stays in local communities allowing those communities to continue to thrive.

To learn more how you can find high-quality Wisconsin food products visit www.savorwisconsin.com. It is easier than ever to buy Wisconsin foods.

Alice in Dairyland Christine (Lepple) Lindner, is Wisconsin's agriculture ambassador. She travels over 40,000 miles each year to spread the word about our agriculture industry. Alice in Dairyland can be reached by writing to Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, 2811 Agriculture Drive, PO Box 8911, Madison, WI 53718. You can schedule Alice for an upcoming event by contacting the Alice in Dairyland Program at 608.224.5080 or by e-mail at [email protected]. To learn more about Wisconsin's $59 billion agricultural industry visit her travel blog at http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/alice/ or become a friend on facebook (Alice Dairyland), follow on twitter (Alice_Dairyland) or LindkedIn (Alice in Dairyland).

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