As a part of something (big) I am working on for the Eat Local Challenge, I am mired in data at the Bureau of Labor Statistics site. I addition to the well-known Consumer Price Index, the department also puts out a report called the Consumer Expenditure Report that gives some insight into the expenditure patterns of Americans by category. The BLS also uses this report to modify the Consumer Price Index.
The most recent Consumer Expenditure Report (pdf) was published in February 2007 and refers to 2005 data. It's really fascinating to read, and has some interesting statistics about our food spending.
The chart below shows how our food spending breaks down. Of course, this picture is painted using very broad strokes, but it's still rather enlightening. The dollar amounts quoted are an average over the sample, which generally represents 1.3 wage earners and a total of 2.5 family members (1.2 non-wage earning members).
(click the chart to make it bigger and readable!)
In 2005, the amount that we spent on food at home dropped by 1.5%. But the amount that we spent away from home increased by 8.3%. Most interesting, though, is the difference in how we are spending our at-home food dollars. Looks like we're eating less meat and more dairy. Or is it that meat is just getting less expensive but we're eating just as much of it?
"The drop in food at home expenditures in 2005 was driven by a significant decrease (13.1 percent) in spending on meats, poultry, fish and eggs. Other components of food at home also decreased–cereals and bakery products fell 1.5 percent, and fruits and vegetables declined 1.7 percent– but those changes were not statistically significant. Expenditures for two components of food at home increased in 2005: Dairy products were up 2.0 percent and other food at home increased by a significant 7.7 percent."
I wonder what constitutes something in the "other food at home" category? Maybe fish on a log?