Cereal for $7 a box? Why Cheerios could be rich kids' food

cereal aisle at new seasons
cereal aisle at new seasons

My family struggled financially growing up, and I remember the rare occasion of breakfasting on toaster pastries (when there was a great sale) and mourning how they were rich kids' food. The next day, it was back to Cheerios or pancakes with imitation maple syrup. But this week, news that wheat prices are rising fast could mean that Cheerios and Wheaties and Raisin Bran could show steep increases in price; as much as $7 a box, and higher. They could soon be rich kids' food, too.

You'll recognize the conversation from oil, whose per-barrel cost is pushing $90. Wheat has topped $10 a bushel due to dry weather in Argentina bringing concerns about a global shortage; it's already doubled this year and seems to be climbing a steep price curve. Economists are actually saying breakfast cereal could get so much as twice as expensive as it is today -- and don't think that eating Corn Flakes will save you. With many farmers producing corn and soybeans for biofuels, those crops are getting pricey, too.

My answer to rising food prices is always something like, Buy generic!Shop at Trader Joe's! But the prices are rising in concert throughout the grocery outlets, from wholesale club stores to brand name to seriously off-label. My advice? Start thinking oatmeal for breakfast, and buy local; while you may not save much in sticker price you'll save in fossil fuels for transport and you'll be helping protect our future.

Here are a few places you'll see price increases in your supermarket: