By Bob Weaver Opinion and Comment

The official government statement on US food prices: "U.S. food prices rose 4 percent in 2007, compared with an average 2.5 percent annual rise for the last 15 years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And the agency says 2008 could be worse, with a rise of as much as 4.5 percent."

The government stats must be using a special formula that does not reflect the price of food at regional super markets.

Many products have risen from 15 to 30 percent, or more.

With the surging price of gas and food, most working people are scurrying to make their dollars stretch.

Growing energy costs will force changes in the ways we live and do business in the United States, says Charles T. Jones, a lifelong leader in the coal and transportation industries.

Jones believes Americans might have to give up their free-traveling lifestyle, where some people drive 50 miles each way to work every day and never think twice about making other daily excursions.

"Some people are spending $200 a week to go to work. Can they stand that over the long haul? No. People will have to move closer to their jobs," he said.

"You cannot spend that much on transportation if you also have to pay for food, clothing and a roof over your head."

People here in West Virginia will save a few cents on the dollar when they head to the grocery store.

Starting July 1st the sales tax on food products will drop from four percent to three percent.

The reduced rate doesn't apply to all food sales.

Prepared foods, soft drinks and food that comes out of vending machines will still have a six percent sales tax.

Over the past five years, the world price of rice, a food staple for three billion people, has tripled to about $700 a ton.

An international hunger problem is in the making.

History may record that President George W. Bush's biggest mess was his 2005 mandate to blend 35 billion U.S. gallons of ethanol into gasoline by 2017.

Ethanol processing now consumes a third of the U.S. corn crop.

And it doesn't help much with the cost of gasoline.

Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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