Monday, January 9, 2012

filling the pantry- cheaper now than then

image source: Village of Second River Bellevield, NJ blog

While web surfing this afternoon I found yet another reason why I much prefer to be in the technologically-advanced 21st century of refrigeration and speed shipping rather than in the Victorian era.

According to the article "Groceries are 13 times cheaper than 150 years ago" by Michael Lloyd on the website Totally Money, we pay much less for groceries than the average Joe of the 19th century.

[The magazine The Grocer] calculated the increase in prices by applying an average earnings measure of inflation to the 1862 prices of a basket of commonly-bought goods. The study looked at 33 items such as a dozen eggs, bread, hot chocolate, grapes, a toothbrush and a litre of sherry.

The analysis found a Victorian shopper would need to spend a third of their monthly income on food. Today, modern consumers spend less than 10% of their income on groceries. The magazine, which carried out the research to help mark its 150th birthday, put the price disparity down to rising wages and the increase in cheaper foreign imports over the course of the last century and a half.
While the price differentials may be easier for my UK readers to understand, there is such a large number gap between the calculated costs that I doubt too many people should have difficulty understanding that food was more costly in 1862 than now.  Such examples include the following:

A pineapple would have cost an 1862-shopper the equivalent of £149 in today’s money, compared to the £1.72 the fruit was available for last week – a fall over the last century and a half of 8,553%. One kilogram of grapes was found to be 7,419% cheaper in today’s money than in 1862, while a melon is now 5,971% more affordable than 150 years ago, according to the calculations.

All of the above are non-native fruits that have fallen in price dramatically as foreign imports have become cheaper.

The cost of 250g of tea was 2,713% higher in 1862 than it is in real terms today, while our Victorian ancestors would have been forced to shell out and extra 1,138% and 451% respectively for their butter and bread, compared to the prices consumers can expect to pay today.

You can read the rest of the article here.

What do you appreciate about the 21st century that the 19th century either lacked or did differently?


  1. I just came from the grocery store. Makes me appreciate the abundance we have these days even more.

  2. Oh wow, I'm glad I can eat my apples in peace. :D <3!

  3. Is this why the apples I buy in California come from new Zealand??? Importing these days must be much cheaper than I even realized. Definitely glad I don't have to spend $149 for a pineapple - my grocery bills are already ridiculous! :)

    Usually I am busy wishing today was more like the past, instead of appreciating the ways in which things are better now. Thanks for putting it in perspective!