Food prices up all over grocery store, and country

Whether you prefer organic milk or orange juice for breakfast; whether coffee or cola gets you caffeinated; whether it's beef or chicken that's for dinner, you're paying more for it this month than ever before. Our friends at AOL Money & Finance took a look at a group of groceries on many people's shopping list and compared the average U.S. prices in December 2006 to the prices in December 2007. What we weren't surprised about: all these prices are higher this year than last. What we were surprised about: some of the increases are truly monumental.

You can browse through our gallery to see the ones we thought would impact us the most, and what were the highest increases -- over 30% in two cases! But I was amazed at how universal the increases were. While lemons don't make up a big portion of my grocery budget, it's shocking to see that the prices are up 23.2%. And sweet peppers, a staple in many Tex-Mex and Cajun dishes, are up 15.7%. The aforementioned orange juice, part of that complete breakfast the cereal makers are always advertising? Up 13.3%.

Groceries: Where is your food budget seeing the biggest hit?
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Food prices up all over grocery store, and country
We'll look at some of our list of 14 of the biggest grocery price increases this year, using average prices throughout the U.S., between December 2006 and December 2007. What's up the most? Click along and see.
Ground beef has stayed cheap (though some critics would say, at a terrible price, given the recent videos of tortured cows that have shocked the nation). Up only 3.7% nationwide, it's still what's for dinner.
My kids love bananas, and many have called bananas the perfect food. They'd be a little more perfect if they were less expensive; up 5.2% this year.
Strawberries are feeling the weight of the many miles they must travel during the winter; prices are up 5.9%, on average, in the U.S. this year.
Bacon may make everything taste better, but it's not going to leave a good taste in your mouth when you pay 6.7% more than you did, this time, last year.
Perhaps due to the continued upswing in local wineries, table wine hasn't gone up in price much this year compared to many other groceries. But still, at 8%, it's higher than most American's raises. Will it be the thing to leave off *your* list?
That American apple pie will be quite a bit more pricey this year, and apples for the teacher will put your kids back 9% more -- will you give them a raise in their allowance, to match?
Beef may be America's traditional meat choice, but chicken is far more ubiquitous on lunch trays everywhere I eat. The favorite white meat of my children is 10% more expensive this year, than last.
Paradoxically, bread is only up about 13%, whereas flour has increased nearly twice that much. Could it be that flour has decreased as a percentage of the makeup of bread, or is it just random market forces? Either way, consumers are encouraged to buy their bread in already-baked form this year, though it will set you back 12% more than in late 2006.
George Bush the elder may not have liked it much, but it's extremely good for your body, that broccoli. Not so good for your wallet, with prices going up 13.4% between 2006 and 2007.
You may not see coffee as a vital part of your grocery shopping experience, but *I* do, and my budget has taken quite a hit this year. Coffee prices are up 18% between December 2006 and December 2007.
If anything is the stuff of life in my house, it's flour. And this year, flour costs quite a bit more than it did last year, up 25%.
Milk is a commodity whose price changes almost as much as gas, riding up and down based on a complicated calculation made by the USDA Federal Milk Marketing Office. You learn something new every day! And today, you should also know that milk's expensive, up nearly 29% year-over-year.
Tomatoes, which in winter must be shipped long distances to the average U.S. market, were up big between December 2006 and December 2007; the average tomato this winter is about $1.00.
In the past 12 months, eggs have gone up 36% in price, on average, throughout the U.S.; a dozen eggs in a local market here in Portland is usually over $2.00 today.

There were other things that don't make my typical shopping list, but might be on yours -- lunch staples like American sliced cheese, up 8.3%; peanut butter, up 9.4%; and potato chips, up 7%. If you drink cola with your lunch, that's up, too, 12.4% year-over-year. That quintessential American dinner of sirloin steak with an iceberg lettuce salad? Up 3.1% and 6.0%, respectively.

Are prices higher in your grocery store? Where are you feeling it the most? Have you cut back, or changed your family's menus, due to the high cost of chicken, eggs, or milk? Is there anything you just can't live without, despite its soaring cost -- so you're giving up elsewhere? How are rising grocery prices affecting you?

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