Skip to content
Get your groceries from the outdoors

Get your groceries from the outdoors

By: Ben Smith - April 25, 2024

  • Outdoor columnist Ben Smith says given the current situation with grocery prices, there’s never been a better time to be an outdoorsman in Mississippi than right now.

Unless you’re already living entirely off of the land, you’ve felt the burden most other Mississippians have recently felt at the grocery store. The prices you are paying to feed your family aren’t anywhere close to what we were used to just a few years ago. I’m not smart enough to know who to blame for the uptick in grocery prices over the last several years. However, the one thing that is troublesome is that I’ve yet to hear a politician say, “It’s my fault.” Not a single dadgum one has taken any responsibility for our current state of affairs. They are ALL too busy blaming someone else. If everyone is pointing the finger another direction, someone has to be wrong.

According to a recent study, Mississippi ranks third in America for having the highest grocery prices. The national average weekly grocery bill is $270.21. Mississippi comes in above the average at $290.64 per week. That’s pretty impressive considering that Mississippi has the highest poverty rate in America and the lowest per capita income. Mississippi also has the highest nationwide grocery tax which comes in at a whopping seven percent. Well, maybe Mississippi has lower income taxes than other states? Nope. Mississippi doesn’t even rank in the best ten states for individual tax burden. As taxes go, Mississippi’s saving grace comes in the form of having the lowest property tax in America, along with not having estate or inheritance taxes which make it somewhat appealing to retirees. 

So, where is all of this going? I’ve often professed my deep affection for my state, and that hasn’t changed. To me, one of the most appealing things about Mississippi is the ability to live off of the land here. Given the current situation with grocery prices, there’s never been a better time to be an outdoorsman in Mississippi than right now.

Let’s talk about the prices of groceries without even adding taxes. At the local Walmart, the price of 80/20 ground beef is $6.47 per pound. To compare, a local butcher shop can grind up your venison, adding beef fat to it, for $3.59 per pound. Straight venison only would come in at $2.49 per pound. To take it a step further, you could purchase your own grinder and do it yourself for free (obviously excluding the price of the grinder). Now, I know that there is a level of inconvenience that goes along with doing your own butchering, but if we are ranked third in the nation for highest grocery bills, then it might just be worth it. 

But but, what about the price of deer hunting? Yes, deer hunting requires a little coin. However, Mississippi has one of the lowest prices for resident hunting licenses out of the surrounding states. Our seasons are longer than most states, and our bag limits are plenty high to fill your freezer up enough to sustain your family for a lengthy period of time. You can either argue about the cost of hunting and keep dipping into your child’s college fund for groceries, or you can figure out a way to feed your family organic meat at half the cost of your local grocery store.

What about seafood prices? Have you seen the cost of seafood lately? Crawfish is currently higher than Willie Nelson. And if you’re buying fish from anywhere aside from a local seafood market who knows what in the heck you’re getting anyway. Mississippi is the catfish capital of the world, but it’s definitely cheaper to catch them yourself than to buy it in the store. We have an abundance of lakes and rivers teaming with catfish. You can be the worst fisherman in the world and still catch them. And what’s the cost of a fishing license…$10? For another $2.48 you can get over a pound of chicken livers and catch enough catfish to feed your family for two months! A two pound bag of frozen catfish fillets at your local Wally-World will cost you over $18 before taxes. Why in the world would anyone ever pay this given our resources?

So far we’ve knocked beef and store bought catfish off of the menu while saving money and eating infinitely healthier in the process. In my best Ron Popeil voice, “But wait, there’s more!” You don’t have to stop at venison and catfish. We’ve got plenty of other options to suit our carnivorous needs. Squirrel season begins in October and runs through February. You might not want to eat those tree rodents, but they are delicious and a whole lotta fun to kill. Rabbit is the same. Spring brings us turkey season, and you can shoot wild hogs all year long. Migratory bird seasons fill up the fall and winter months providing you with an opportunity to kill doves and ducks. And what about frogs? You ain’t livin’ until you’ve tossed a mess of frog legs in the grease!

What I want fellow Mississippians to understand is simple. We apparently can’t vote out the people that are killing us at the grocery store register because all of them are doing the same exact finger pointing. However, we can save ourselves a few bucks each week by not having to buy certain things that we can get on our own. We’d also be getting the benefit of knowing exactly where our food came from and the process it took to bring it to our table. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t exactly trust the government’s stamp of approval on the food at the grocery store. To finish, possibly the best thing to come out of providing our own food are the experiences and memories we get to make while doing it. So, let’s get outside Mississippi! Let’s save some cash and be physically and mentally healthier in the process!

About the Author(s)
author profile image

Ben Smith

A native of Laurel, Mississippi, Ben played baseball at William Carey University before joining the coaching staff at WCU, where he’s spent the last 16 years. He also serves as a History Instructor in the WCU School of Arts and Letters. During the Covid shutdown in 2020, he began the outdoor blog “Pinstripes to Camo”. The blog quickly grew into a weekly column and was awarded as the #1 Sports Column in the state by the Mississippi Press Association. During that time, “Pinstripes to Camo” also became a weekly podcast, featuring various outdoor guests from around the country, and has grown into one of the top outdoor podcasts in the Southeast.