Interesting article in today’s edition of The Wall Street Journal on how rising food prices have prompted U.S. consumers to buy in bulk and stockpile food (“As Food Prices Rise, Shoppers Stock Up,” by Gary McWilliams and David Kesmodel).
A chart accompanying the article details a 6 percent jump in the overall cost of food for home consumption from 2005 through 2007, ranging from hikes of 3.1 percent for fats and oils and 3.3 percent for poultry to 9.5 percent for fish and seafood and 35.5 percent for eggs. The authors note that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting a 4 to 5 percent climb in food prices for 2008, double the level of 2005.
If you’re considering buying a separate freezer to store certain foods you buy in quantity, read our buyer’s guide to and review of freezers, which features Ratings (available to subscribers) of manual-defrost chest and upright models and self-defrost uprights.
Follow this advice when shopping for a stand-alone freezer:
Figure the capacity you need. The freezer size you need will depend on the size of your family and their fondness for frozen foods. Freezers are available in compact (5 cubic feet), small (6 to 9 cubic feet), medium (12 to 18 cubic feet), and large (more than 18 cubic feet) capacities. Except for their hanging baskets, chest freezers are wide open so that almost all of the claimed space is usable. Upright freezers have shelves and pullout bins, which make it easier to organize and reach contents but reduce usable space by up to 20 percent.
Weigh manual vs. self-defrost. Manual-defrost freezers, whether chest or upright, are generally quieter and more energy efficient than self-defrosting models of the same type. But manually defrosting a freezer can be a lot of work and take up to 24 hours.
Consider local power problems. If the area where you live is prone to brownouts or power failures, a chest freezer will be the better choice.
Check the controls and lights. Easy-to-reach controls make adjusting the temperature simple. An interior light makes it easier to find foods, especially if the freezer is in a dimly lighted area. A power-on light on the outside of the freezer lets you see at a glance that the freezer is on. That way you don't have to open the unit to check, letting cold air out. Most of the models we tested have that feature. We think all should have it.—Steven H. Saltzman
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