A Cookout Crisis

July 19, 2023

Each summer, Americans of all creeds come together over one still-sacred, nearly ubiquitous tradition- the barbecue. Whether hosted on balcony or backyard, a good old-fashioned cookout brings together friends, families, and freshly prepared foods. While Americans have felt the crush of inflation throughout the Biden administration, the rising cost of food has well outpaced that of other goods, putting significant strain on these alfresco feasts. In May of 2023, food inflation stood at 6.7% versus a general rate of 5.3%, and wage growth continues to pale in comparison to the set. To combat such egregious increases, many people in the United States have had to curtail their spending, and 53% claim to have cut their supermarket budgets in an attempt to make ends meet, with half choosing to buy fewer groceries and the remainder opting for generic over name brands.

While Americans enjoy communal meals year-round, the summer holds particular significance for social dining. Sunnier weather, longer days, and the celebration of four federal holidays- typically accompanied by a day off from work- provide temptation few can resist in robust economic times. Under the current administration, however, families are forced to weigh sacrificing long-standing holiday gatherings in favor of preserving critical funds. Many typical barbecue foods have been among those with the fastest rising costs, exacerbating the issue. Potato chips and pretzels have both risen 16.7% over last year, hamburger buns 17%, and ketchup a whopping 28%. The American Farm Bureau publishes annual data related to the inflated price of a typical cookout on the Fourth of July. 2023 was 3% lower than Biden’s 2022 average but an unsettling 14% above 2021’s more reasonable standard.

While this year’s celebrations will be tight, future gatherings may be canceled altogether if current trajectories continue. For his part, the President has taken a victory lap concerning a lower inflation rate, crediting his signature “Bidenomics” for putting America back on track. The celebration, however, is likely premature, considering only 34% of voters are confident in his economic leadership capacity, and 54% specifically believe his policies have led to the current cost of goods. Particularly if President Biden is re-elected and allowed to continue his legacy of economic incoherence, his constituents must be more concerned than ever with saving money. Following three years of lockdowns and mandates, this Fourth of July is the first Americans have seen without a National State of Emergency and corresponding social modifications. The idea that they will be unable to celebrate their freedoms as they have for generations is unconscionable, and inflation must be addressed before it is too late.

Have your summer barbecues proved more expensive since President Biden took office? How have you been choosing to offset the rising costs?

Hilary Gunn is a Connecticut native with a degree in Criminal Justice from the George Washington University. She works for a nonprofit and has previously collaborated with the CT GOP as an activist, political campaign manager and field director, and social media organizer. She is currently serving in her fourth term of municipal office and has previously acted as a delegate on the Republican Town Committee.

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Antigrav1117 on Jun 16, 2023 11:43 AM
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