Spending on Food At An All-Time Historical Low; And It's Nothing At All Like The Great Depression
The chart above is based on data from the USDA's Economic Research Service showing "Food expenditures by families and individuals as a share of disposable personal income," from 1929 to 2007. In the entire history of the U.S., it's only been in the last eight years that the percent of income spent on food for Americans was in single digits - since 2000 it's been below 10%. In all previous years, spending on food was in double-digits, and in most years from 1929 to 1952 it was above 20%.
This amazing trend in lower food prices as a percent of income reflects the relentless and significant improvements in the productivity and distribution of food production, and doesn't even take into account the significant improvements in the quantity and quality of food products available for today's Americans compared to previous periods.
And perhaps this is another reason why comparisons of today's economic conditions to the Great Depression are hugely distorted - we are more than 7.5 times wealthier today compared to 1933 based on per-capita real GDP ($5,653 in 1933 vs. $42,707 in 2007), see chart below.