"It's expensive, so we eat less," said Seema Valmiki, 35, who is raising three children in New Delhi with her husband on his 6,000-rupee ($135) monthly income as a driver.
Valmiki can no longer afford meat, fruit or fish and has put off buying her children new school uniforms, toys and a bicycle.
"If we buy them fruit, we can't buy them food" like rice, dal and vegetables, she said.
In China, food costs rose 5.9 percent in April over a year ago - a modest rate for a country that suffered 20 percent-plus inflation in 2008. But it was enough to prompt the communist government to try to reassure the public with pledges that prices will ease as the spring harvest comes in. It also threatened to punish price gouging in a new effort to cool inflation.
Even in moderately prosperous nations such as Venezuela, shoppers say they can no longer afford meat and scour markets for bargains.
In Argentina, soy production has taken over more than 32 million acres (13 million hectares) of grassland once used to raise cattle and replaced less profitable wheat and corn as well, driving up prices in supermarkets.
Image: In this photo taken on May 27, 2010, a woman chooses tomatoes at a market in Caracas, Venezuela.