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    Find out how Italians are saving money despite high prices for food
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    AUGUST 24, 2008 - It's no secret that the world economy is suffering lately - and that prices continue to rise at grocery stores. When I was in Italy in June and early July, I experienced firsthand the rising cost of food. For an American earning dollars, the sticker shock is truly outrageous.

    Worst of all, in Italy, the grocery stores and products are rarely on sale. There's no such thing as specials or VIP cards for frequent shoppers or anything that we have in the United States to defray costs. And, since I live on the island of Ischia whenever I'm in Italy, I see even higher grocery prices. The excuse is that it costs more - especially since gas prices have been so high lately - to get goods from the mainland to an island. Oh and by the way, the grocery store I go to in Ischia charges you for plastic bags you use to

    If you don't believe, see for yourself. Below are prices for products I purchased at my local grocery store in Ischia on July 1, 2008:

    Milk (about half a gallon): 1.68 euro, which equals about $2.48
    Sliced Cheese (a package): 1.59 euro, which equals about $2.34
    Speck (kind of like bacon; this was for about 8 slices): 2.93 euro, which equals about $4.32
    Cheerios: 3.33 euro, which equals about $4.91
    Pringles: 2.01 euro, which equals about $2.96
    Yogurt: .85 euro, which equals about $1.25

    People in Italy, at least in Ischia, find other ways to save money. They make more pasta, which tends to be affordable both in the United States and Italy. They also cook at home more than Americans do, although things are changing even there as more people work longer hours and have less time for housekeeping and cooking.

    Most importantly, many of the people I know have gardens with lemons, vegetables including lettuce, zucchini, and eggplant, and herbs. Some of them raise their own chickens, which produce eggs and can be served, goats, which can be used for milk and food, or rabbits, which people in Ischia eat often. In fact, rabbit is a specialty of the island.

    The point of this particular column is to prove that all the world is hurting financially and some Italians are getting creative and putting in extra effort to save money but still feed their family well. Even in difficult times, humans can find strength within themselves and use their ability to reason to come up with ways to overcome challenges. This is especially true of Italians whose lean wallets are interfering with their love of good food. We can all learn a lesson from their resourcefulness.

    Di Meglio is the guide to Newlyweds for About.com, where you can find information on everything from getting cozy to getting pregnant.

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