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USDA'S REPORT TO CONSUMERS
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE OFFICE OF MUNICATION WASHINGTON, D.C. 20250
FEBRUARY-MARCH 1974 f NO. 119
CHEWING THE FAT
About Fats In Food And ~ 4rnd Mrs. Spratt
were in trouble nutrition ck, on a no-fat
diet, ran the risk of deficiencies of vitamins A, D,
E, and K and probably didn't enjoy his meals much
without the flavor that fats add to foods -- unfor-
tunate because he had to eat a larger volume of
"lean" to satisfy his appetite and keep up his en-
ergy. On the other hand, Mrs. Spratt, eating only
fat, had her problems. She undoubtedly was over-
weight and possibly had aoove normal amounts of li-
pids in her blood. A high level of lipids, which
include triglycerides and cholesterol, is associated
with atherosclerosis, an arterial disease respon-
sible for most cornonary heart disease and a major
culprit in cerebral thrombosis (stroke). Scientific
opinion varies as to the specific role fat plays in
the risk of atherosclerosis. However, there is con-
sensus about the importance to health at every age
of the several factors including diet which affect
development of the disease. USDA's Agricultural Re-
search Service recently prepared a booklet, "Fats in
Food and Diet," which can help answer some of the
nonmedical questions about the effects of dietary fat
on health. The booklet discusses the importance of
a balanced diet; kinds of fat and fatty acids; chol-
esterol; and some of the fat facts uncovered by re-
search. Tables list fat content and major fatty
acid composition as well as cholesterol content of
some foods. Copies of "Fats In Food And Diet,"
(AIB 361) are available for 25t each from Superin-
tendent of Documents, Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402.
NEWS FROM THE VEGETABLE ROWS
Varieties With More Than Before. USDA scientists have
discovered some new vegetable lines with more nutrition-
al value than their present-day relatives: carrots with
20 percent more carotene potatoes with higher protein
content; cabbage with 2.2 times more vitamin C.
~L~ /C/I *C/ JI~
SPRING FOOD PREVIEW
Comes spring, the season for early lamb, fresh strawberries, and
abundant eggs. As the days warm, the early vegetable crops appear,
brightening the springtime food fare. The first arrivals include
sweet corn, asparagus, white and yellow onions, peppers, and cucum-
bers--and in late spring, cantaloupes and watermelons.
Rising food prices for many items will also be evident as you shop
this spring. Price increases during April-June, however, may not
equal those of January-March, when food prices at supermarkets and
restaurants averaged about 5 percent higher than last fall. Prices
are up because:
Meat supplies are tightening again, following some relief
Dairy products are costing more due to heavy demand for
dairy products and a downturn in milk supplies.
Prices of processed fruits and vegetables, or those drawn
from cold storage, tend to rise this time of year, and
supplies are generally below those of recent years.
Spiralling fuel costs and general inflation in the economy
are making the business of processing, shipping, and
selling food more expensive.
Of course, there are exceptions to the pattern of rising prices.
There are some foods whose prices are steady, and some cost less than
in months past.
Though egg prices in January were nearly as high as last summer,
poultrymen are expanding flocks, and prices will ease--especially
after Easter. Egg prices have dropped sharply since January and by
mid-year you may pay 20 cents less for a dozen eggs than you did at
the first of the year.
Look for more chicken, and turkey--and a rising demand for them--as
beef and pork supplies tighten in the spring. A whole fryer may
cost you around 60 cents a pound this spring, about the same as a
year earlier, but less than you paid in August and September. Tur-
key prices, down slightly from the peaks of last summer and fall,
will ease further in the spring. Prices may average around the 65-70
cents a pound of last spring.
There may be some further price increases for dairy products this
spring, especially for milk. Currently, dairy product prices stand
a fourth higher than in early 1973. While consumer demand has in-
creased for dairy products as good protein sources, milk production
has been slipping and prices rising. Even a doubling of imports
didn't help much last year. But the big price increases are probab-
ly behind us. A recent boost in U.S. cheese output, plus more im-
ports, may stabilize prices of American cheese and cheese foods this
spring. And butter prices lately have dropped back a little.
Look for retail meat prices to continue as high or higher this spring
than their peaks of last August or September. Retail beef prices,
averaging all cuts nationwide, peaked at $1.45 per pound last summer;
pork cuts were $1.32. Though pork and beef prices declined quite a
bit last fall, they climbed back up in January.
Retail lamb and veal prices have stayed at about the same levels of
Cheaper meat cuts are bearing the brunt of current price increases
in meats. This was also true last year as price rises for hamburger
and chuck outdistanced those for steak. Some of the largest hikes
per pound hit franks, canned and fresh ham, bacon, pork sausage, and
The point is: Shifts in how the shopper spends his food dollar af-
fects food prices. The shifting consumer demand from costlier to
cheaper cuts of meats pushed up the prices of the cheaper cuts fur-
With meat prices high, sales of soy-meat blends have increased sharp-
ly. The "blend-burger"--hamburger and textured soy protein--usually
retails 15-20 cents less per pound than pure hamburger.
By planting more acres for winter harvest, growers have managed to
keep retail fresh vegetable prices comparable to those of last win-
ter. In fact, lettuce, carrots, celery, and onions have been priced
lower than last winter. Both fresh and processed mushrooms are
plentiful. In general, many fresh vegetables should continue in
good supply this spring, helping to minimize price increases.
Not so for potatoes and beans, though. After a smallish potato crop
last fall, supplies are tight. Processors demand increasing quanti-
ties of potatoes, and fresh potato prices have risen this winter to
Last fall's disappointing harvest of dry beans has been followed by
huge demands at home and overseas because of rising prices for pro-
tein-rich foods. Consumers are paying double to triple prices of a
Rice prices have also doubled during this time. Much U.S. rice is
going to stem shortages occurring in many less-developed countries.
Consumer demand for canned and frozen vegetables has been very
strong. Canned vegetables are in tight supply, and prices will con-
tinue increasing this spring.
Frozen snap beans are in good supply following a big crop last fall.
There is plenty of frozen corn--more of it on the cob this year--
and prices have been fairly steady. Frozen spinach is plentiful.
And there are more frozen peas but they are priced a little higher
than in 1973. Frozen french fries also cost a little more than last
Fruit prices will be generally higher this spring. Farm prices are
higher and processing and retailing costs are up.
Even so, some items cost only moderately more than last year. For
example, there are large supplies of orange juice, both frozen con-
centrate and fresh chilled. Prices are near those of a year ago.
There are lots of bananas, priced about the same as in 1973.
Continued on page 4. -3-
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
3 1262 08740 1039
There will also be a large crop of Navel oranges, buu ,. ____
cias. And there will be much more noncitrus fruit on hand compared
with last spring, though prices will be up moderately. With a huge
harvest of Red Delicious last fall, more apples are -on the counters.
Raisins and dried fruit, scarce just a year ago, have reappeared on
the shelves, and harvests of walnuts, pecans, and filberts proved
much more generous last fall. Grocery store freezers are better
stocked, too, with frozen blueberries, peaches, and strawberries
leading off the list.
On the other hand, you'll note somewhat higher prices for canned
noncitrus fruit. From this group, only purple plums and apricots
aren't considered in very short supply.
On the bread scene: The pound loaf of bread, subject of monthly na-
tional price surveys, cost 32 cents in January, up 7 cents from a
year ago. About 3-1/2 cents of the 7-cent increase came from higher
farm prices for ingredients, mostly the 10 ounces of wheat flour a
pound loaf contains. Farmers currently get about 8 cents of the
32-cent price. Flour milling, baking, wrapping, and retailing bread
account for the remaining 24 cents.
You can expect some further bread price increases during 1974. Pri-
ces will rise, mainly as the bakers and retailers cope with higher
fuel costs, wage increases, and other inflationary factors. Wheat
prices, which influence the farmer's share, are expected to drop
some after midyear.
The "Broken e". USDA is using a star-studded "broken e"
symbol, indicating a break in energy, in its energy con-
servation campaign. The education-information campaign
is aimed at both consumer and farmer, alerting them to
energy-conserving steps they can take. You will see the
symbol appearing alone, in slogans, on publications, and *AA
on auto stickers, to certify that the user is aware of the
energy problem and is cooperating in conservation activities -- which
can range from car tuneups for more fuel efficiency to keeping the
thermostat turned down.
SERVICE is a monthly newsletter of consumer interest. It
is designed for those who report to the individual consumer
rather than for mass distribution. For information about
items in this issue, write: Lillie Vincent, Editor of
SERVICE, Office of Communication, U.S. Department of Agri-
culture, Washington, D.C. 20250. Telephone (202) 447-5437.
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