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Global food prices are rising, but when will they hit home in CNY?

Either way, food retailers don't have many options for how to handle the increase.

"It's a commodity. And perishables are perishables. There's not a heck of a lot you can do," Nojaim said. "We're kind of still waiting for it, I guess."

Of more immediate concern is the impact unusual weather events are having on produce prices.

Nojaim said freezing temperatures on the west coast have driven up produce prices and his customers have noticed.

Jamie Kluk, head grocery clerk for Syracuse Real Food Co-op, at 618 Kensington Road, said he's noticed produce prices on the rise in other grocery stores and while the Co-op hasn't experienced the shift yet, he expected it to be felt first in citrus fruits.

Buy local boost

The common thread between the rise in food and fuel costs and the distance foods are transported to reach consumers highlights one of the principles of the "buy local" movement gaining momentum across the country.

"Now, more than ever, consumers want to know that the food they buy is grown and produced locally, and it's important that we have those products in our store," said McKenna. "Buying local cuts down the distance it takes food to travel to our stores making it more cost effective and we're able to pass the savings to our consumer."

Chris Fowler, founder of the buy- and live-local campaign SyracuseFirst, said he didn't expect rising food prices to "have a tremendous effect" on the number of people taking the pledge to buy more locally in the Syracuse area.

"Most people doing it are doing it for personal or philosophical reasons," Fowler said.

Amanda Gormley, marketing manager at the Co-op, said the expectation that locally or regionally produced foods are typically more expensive may help offset the discomfort of rising costs, for those who are already buying local.

But that stereotype is being tested, Gormley pointed out.

The Basics Program launched last year by the Co-op offers staples like milk, meat, bread and fresh produce at about 25 percent below the suggested retail price, Gormley said.

Making locally and regionally produced organic foods more affordable may not help drive down the costs of the FPI, but it can make a significant difference in an individual's grocery bill.

Click here for more information about the Syracuse Real Food Co-op Basics program.

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