Is raising chickens the solution to higher egg costs? Food at home index shows more than eggs higher by double digits

Items like cereal are 16% higher, bread is 22% higher, and egg prices have doubled. Economists say the price of eggs are the result of higher costs on labor, fuel, feed and a lingering bird flu.
Egg Prices Shock Shoppers
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 9:25 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - It’s a new year, and even higher prices at the grocery store. Last year, food prices were up 10% from the year prior. Even though historically food prices have usually climbed just 2%. So how are prices right now? And how are people adjusting?

West Anderson’s McGee family is a hardworking team from dawn to dusk.

“(My children) work harder than most grown men do,” said Kalyna McGee. “We’re making sure that we’re taking care of our family the way the Bible tells us to. To be busy and to take care of ourselves so we don’t have to rely on anyone else.”

Her children tend to 50 chickens, goats, horses, pigs, and a pony seven days a week.

“I don’t start school until we get the job done,” said 12-year-old Jake.

In fact, Jake got his first hen by chance. He was in kindergarten and raised one as part of a 4-H project, and you can say the farm on this sixth generation’s family property just grew.

“It taught me responsibility,” Jake said.

Especially at a time when the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the food at home index has climbed 12%. Items like cereal are 16% higher, bread is 22% higher, and egg prices have doubled. Economists say the price of eggs are the result of higher costs on labor, fuel, feed and a lingering bird flu.

“There was a time when everybody had a hog, and chickens and a milk cow at their house and everyone knew how to take care of themselves,” said Kalyna. “We’re so far removed from that so when price crises happen we don’t know how to fend for ourselves anymore. So, do I think people should raise chickens and do it responsibly, absolutely.”

But some economists warn, if your solution is just buying a hen to combat the double digit inflation you’re experiencing at the grocery store, you also may need a cow, and land for a garden. Economists like Dr. Bernard Pettingill says inflation has been discussed a lot these days, but the shock at the register has more consumers better understanding the word.

“Right now inflation to the consumer hasn’t been experienced 100%, it’s still being little by little exposed to the consumer, and little by little the consumer is realizing we are being chiseled away,” Dr. Pettingill said. “Costs to gas and oil, costs of insurance, costs to that driver – has gone way up. Cost to replace the tires on his truck have gone way up, just like the cost of insurance to keeping them driver on the road. When all that goes up that’s passed on to the cost of the feed, and ultimately the final consumer product which is eggs, beef, pork and whatever else they’re selling.”

“We used to grind some of our own feed, but some of the places we were getting the ingredients to grind for, it was higher than it would be to go buy a bag of feed,” added Kalyna.

And Dr. Pettingill says the nation hasn’t seen this type of climb in decades.

“When the oil crisis occurred, the 1980′s, that’s way back, and that’s when we had double digit inflation,” he said.

Dr. Pettingill also estimates things may get worse before the numbers slow.

“We will experience a recession. That’s the consensus of the main economists in the county,” he said. “We will have a recession in the second quarter of this year.”

Meanwhile, the McGee’s who used to sell eggs to their neighbors say the higher prices could serve as a teachable moment.

“So many children have no idea what you have to go through to get food on your table,” Kalyna said.

Whether we’re talking tending to animals on a farm or buying items at the grocery store.

“I recommend that children have way more responsibility than they have right now,” she said.

In addition to farming, the McGee’s also promote food preservation from fruits, to vegetables and meats, safely.

“To be able to put it up and have it for the dead of winter when nothings growing, and you can still be able to eat healthy,” Kalyna said.

A firm foundation amid shaky times on the farm and inside the grocery store.

“I encourage (people to) – come over and I’ll teach you,” Kalyna said. “Let me help you. I’ll be more than glad to show you how to do this.”