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In US, inflation sparks tough Thanksgiving meal sacrifices

Photo: Kena Betancur / AFP

| By AFP | Thomas Urbain |

Sandra White normally has turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. But on Thursday, due to soaring inflation, she’s going to have fried chicken instead.

“It’s too expensive, too expensive,” the 70-year-old White, a resident of East Harlem, says of the traditional holiday bird. 

She asked her guests to bring other parts of the meal.

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It’s the same story for fellow shopper Yeisha Swan, but she got lucky: one of her loved ones bought the family fowl, and she was able to cut costs on the side dishes, which for many are just as important as the main course.

“This is way less than what I would buy. I couldn’t get my ham…. I’m using canned collard greens. It’s different,” Swan, 42, tells AFP outside a New York supermarket.

Inflation is red-hot in the United States, reaching the highest levels in decades this year. And while some prices have eased in recent months, consumers say they are straining to handle their grocery bills — a tough blow at the holidays.

Compounding that problem is a bird flu outbreak that forced the culling of about 50 million poultry, including eight million turkeys, according to calculations based on US Department of Agriculture data.

Turkey costs 21 percent more in the United States than it did last year, according to the American Farm Bureau.

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‘Had to really cut back’

The turkey is not the only component of a classic Thanksgiving meal that is more pricey. A Farm Bureau survey showed that cubed stuffing mix was 69 percent more expensive as compared with last year.

The only must-have with a price drop? Cranberries.

An average meal for 10 this year — including turkey, stuffing, peas, sweet potatoes, cranberries, carrots, rolls and pumpkin pie — will cost $64.05, or 20 percent more than in 2021, the Farm Bureau said.

“I just had to really cut back…. We used to have a party and we couldn’t do that for Thanksgiving,” says chef Jose Rodriguez. Instead of an open house for all of his loved ones, he will eat with his wife and their two dogs.

Although turkey prices have jumped, demand has not completely collapsed.

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At Wendel’s Poultry Farm near Buffalo, New York — which emerged unscathed from the bird flu crisis — all 1,100 Thanksgiving turkeys were sold out. Customers can already place an order for a Christmas bird.

In order to make up for increasing costs of raw materials, Wendel’s hiked its prices by 22 percent, explains manager Cami Wendel.

Retail giant Walmart went in the opposite direction, offering its Thanksgiving basket, including a turkey, for the same price as last year. Its low prices have allowed it to make inroads in the grocery market since inflation took off.

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International

Food prices send hunger soaring in Latin America: UN agencies

Photo: AP News

| By AFP |

Rising food prices in Latin America and the Caribbean caused the number of people going hungry in the region to rise by more than 13 million between 2019 and 2021, a United Nations report said Tuesday.

The report by three UN agencies said the region was particularly vulnerable to the global food crisis caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine due to a high reliance on wheat, maize and fertilizer imports.

“The number of people in the region suffering from hunger increased by 13.2 million to 56.5 million,” read the report, released at a press conference in Santiago, Chile.

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In addition, moderate or severe food insecurity affected 267.7 million people — 40.6 percent of the region’s population — in 2021. 

This is “far above the world average” of 29.3 percent, said the report.

“The rise in food inflation and extreme poverty is one of the factors behind the increase in food insecurity and hunger,” said the report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

According to the FAO, food insecurity refers to a lack of regular access to healthy and nutritious food.

“The heavy reliance on imported fertilizers, and fluctuating food prices, have an unavoidable negative impact on livelihoods — mainly of the rural population — and access to healthy food,” said Mario Lubetkin, FAO Assistant Director-General.

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Colombia landslide kills 34

Photo: AFP

| By AFP |

Heavy rains in northwest Colombia sent a wall of earth crashing onto a winding road, swallowing up a bus and other vehicles and killing 34 people, emergency services said Monday.

The landslide Sunday evening prompted a large rescue effort, with dozens of people in hard hats using backhoes and excavators to dig through the earth looking for victims.

The National Unit for Disaster Risk Management said the fatalities included eight minors and that nine other people were injured in the disaster in the remote town of Pueblo Rico.

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The bus had set out from the city of Cali with 25 passengers, and traveled 270 kilometers (170 miles) before being hit by the landslide as it passed through the Andes mountain region, civil defense officials said.

Colombian media reported that a child had survived and was pulled from the arms of its mother, who did not make it.

One survivor said the bus driver had at first managed to dodge the worst of the landslide.

“Part of it was coming down and the bus was a little bit back from that. The bus driver was backing up when it all came crashing down,” Andres Ibarguen told radio station Lloro Stereo.

The rainy season that began in August is Colombia’s worst in 40 years, according to the government, causing accidents that have left more than 270 people dead.

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The country has declared a national disaster over the rains linked to the exceptionally long La Nina weather phenomenon, which cools surface temperatures and is currently causing drought and flooding around the globe.

Today, the landslide “puts this town in mourning, tomorrow it could be in another area, because we really have many unstable areas in the country, and the rainy season has not ended,” said Javier Pava of the UNGRD.

The UN’s World Meteorological Organization said last week the La Nina conditions could last until February or March 2023.

In Colombia, the phenomenon has also caused crop damage, compromising food supplies and leading to soaring prices.

In July, three children were killed in northwestern Colombia when a landslide buried a rural school. In February, 14 people died in a mudslide triggered by heavy rains in central-western Risaralda province.

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At least 27 killed in Colombia landslide: president

Photo: AFP

| By AFP |

At least 27 people were killed when a landslide engulfed a road in northwest Colombia, trapping people in a bus and other vehicles, said President Gustavo Petro on Monday.

“It is with sadness that I must announce that, so far, 27 people, including three minors, have lost their lives in the tragedy” that struck on Sunday in a remote area of the Pueblo Rico municipality, Petro wrote on Twitter.

On Sunday evening, the president reported three dead, as dozens of rescue workers searched for survivors.

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One survivor said the driver of the bus managed to dodge the worst of the landslide.

“Part of it was coming down and the bus was a little bit back from that. The bus driver was backing up when it all came crashing down,” Andres Ibarguen told radio station Lloro Stereo.

The bus had set out from the city of Cali with 25 passengers, civil defense officials said.

The rainy season that began in August is Colombia’s worst in 40 years, according to the government, causing accidents that have left more than 270 people dead.

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