With the recession hitting middle class Americans so fast, food prices have certainly been fluctuating, but not necessarily for the better.

National Public Radio created a series of charts as part of their Planet Money Graphing America series in which they examined American purchases on food. The report compares expenditures at the grocery store in 1982 and 2012, showing a 23 percent increase in processed foods and sweets on the grocery bill. This comes above meat which at 21 percent, and fruits at 14 percent. In 1982, meat made up the largest portion of the grocery bill, followed by fruits and vegetables. Processed foods ranked fifth.

But what’s to blame for this?

The chart details the decrease in costs for certain items such as sugar, potato chips, and butter. It’s also a known fact that processed foods are becoming cheaper and easier to find at bargain stores. According to Huffington Post, the shelves are stocked.

“Dollar stores see opportunity in the dismal economy. Matthews, N.C.-based Family Dollar plans to add 300 new food items in 2012, including offerings from Kraft, Nature Valley and General Mills, according to communication director Josh Braverman. Except for milk and eggs — staple foods required to qualify for food stamp programs — all of its foods are packaged, processed, or frozen.”

Yet there is some good news from the chart, meat is substantially cheaper than its been since the Reagan era. Plus, overall American’s grocery bills are cheaper as well. But are we substituting good health for cheap groceries?


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