It’s no surprise that Americans have been cutting back in the face of job losses, pay reductions, and shrunken retirement accounts. One result has been a sharp increase in the saving rate, which has averaged more than 4.5% this year after flirting with 0% in recent years.
A second result is a rebound in doing-it-yourself. Home-cooking has replaced some restaurant visits, for example, and more Americans are picking up a hammer rather than calling a handyman.
This morning’s Washington Post provides another example of such rising home production — a boom in vegetable gardening:
Seed producers and merchants across the United States are reporting the same phenomenon of crazy demand and even some shortages, especially of staples like beans, potatoes and lettuces. Sales of seed packets picked up last year and have grown significantly again this season, which runs from January to June.
Industry observers attribute the boost in sales to a concern for food safety following outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella poisonings and a desire by consumers to be a part of the local food movement. Michelle Obama’s new vegetable garden at the White House may also be inspiring people, they said.
But the primary reasons, they speculate, are the recession, income loss and the need for people to lower their grocery bills by growing their own. (my emphasis)
Anecdotes like this have a number of larger implications: