Swelling prices for food changing how we shop

Prices for oil, corn and wheat have been dropping for months, but food prices in the supermarket are climbing.

Food inflation slowed in October, according to federal figures released Wednesday, but grocery prices are up 7.5 percent over last year.

Combined with the bad economy, the higher cost of eating is changing the way we shop for food, from choosing store labels over national brands to using more coupons to switching to cheaper cuts of meat.

That's what Jodi Sires of Modesto is doing.

Loading groceries outside the Save Mart store at Lincoln Shopping Center in downtown Modesto, Sires said high food prices have

prompted her to look for bargains wherever she can find them and do whatever she can to stretch her grocery dollars.

"I like making meals that can last longer, so you can have leftovers for a couple of days," she said. "You have to get the most out of what you pay for."

With key commodities down 50 percent or more from their midyear highs, economists project food inflation will continue to slow, but only so much.

"It's certainly not going to go negative," said Michael Swanson, lead agricultural economist at Wells Fargo & Co. in Minneapolis.

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