Monday, January 4, 2010

La Canasta Básica

I'm still not brave enough to tackle the Mexican newspaper, but this morning, I walked past the neighbor's door and glanced at today's headline "Canasta Básica subirá 30%". Canasta básica? The basic basket? Another term for inflation?

Not being knowledgeable about economic terms, I went to my trusty online dictionary, which translates canasta básica into "basic food basket" or "basic market basket". Then, I wondered what could possibly be in the basic food basket?

If you imagine the average Mexican family strolling around the supermarket, what might be in their cart? Tortillas, tomatoes, limes, beans, rice, oil, laundry detergent? Well, that's essentially the basic market basket -- goods and services deemed by the government to satisfy basic family needs.

Examining the list, it's interesting to note what's essential. This article from 2008 provides a good summary of the origins of the term, the eventual inclusion of more than just food, and the 2002 list by the Bank of Mexico. Did you know essentials now include the movies, TV, and sodas?

I like to look at the list for comparison -- just how Mexican is my daily living becoming and how do the basic goods and services differ between Mexico and the US? I don't know what would be in the typical American basket, but I doubt powdered gelatin (Lesley is always observing how much Mexicans like their gelatina) and beef liver would be. And, if I were to guess what might be on the American list ... macaroni and cheese and Hamburger Helper?


  1. Brendan can go into painful detail on this economic concept, but you might regret asking.

  2. I saw a CNN piece on TV this morning, and random people on the street were talking about the canasta básica. I think we're all just imaging our shopping carts.