As the economy continues to lag, many consumers fear higher food prices as inflation continues to rise. Everyone is asking, “Should consumers worry?” The rise in meat prices has been the most substantial with pork rising by over 11 percent, a monetary drain on the consumer. The Environmental Protection Agency is loosening a few rules on the meat industry to help curb costs.

The Department of Agriculture expects wheat prices to rise in 2011, as production was low for 2010. The farming community is blaming natural disasters and droughts that have plagued the agricultural industry over the past year.

As food inflation rises above average, consumers are becoming more selective with their food purchases. Coupons and store brands are becoming more popular amongst consumers. Many economists also predict that consumers will actually change their eating habits as the price of crude oil rises.

Even restaurants are expected to raise prices by at least 3 percent as food prices keep rising.  McDonald’s is planning to raise prices across the menu. No more dollar deals in 2011. As of now consumers do not seem to be worried, but the riots in Egypt were set off partially by skyrocketing food prices. Americans rioting and looting in the streets sounds less plausible, but it has happened before.

No matter what the future holds, consumers will remain wary of the price of food. Bloomberg predicts a minimum of a 3 percent inflation rate and to adjust your shopping budget accordingly. Such a small rise in food prices seems like it would cause no worry, but 3 percent is considered to be on the overall low side.