Thursday’s Thoughts: Mental Meanderings Through the Grocery Aisles

I went grocery shopping yesterday morning. Planned to get it done early, then come home and write. It didn’t exactly work out that way, but that’s another subject.

Grocery shopping. Back in the day when we raised/sold enough of our own food that we ate for free, I used to spend about $25/week on groceries for a family of four.

I thought you just said you ate for free? We did. We sold enough to cover the expense, but we had to lay out the expense initially. The fact is, we spent more on animal feed than we did on groceries, but we got all that back, too, when we sold eggs and chickens and pork.

But quit distracting me. What I’m saying is, “then,” back in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, I went to the grocery store every two weeks (after Craig’s payday) and spent about $40-50 each visit. This is approximate, okay? And I don’t have the receipts to prove it. Just work with me here.

Yesterday, I spent $106.34. My grocery receipt said I saved 31% on my total bill, thanks to buying things on sale. This is my weekly shopping. And it doesn’t count the other things I pick up elsewhere because the price is better. Again, for a family of four. Four adults, though, rather than two adults and two small children.

“Then,” we bought no junk food. Only necessities. Yesterday, I bought a couple bags of chips (on sale at 2/$5) and a box of Little Debbie fig bars. No huge extravagance, but those are things I wouldn’t have purchased “then.” However, I did stock up on some things that the store had on sale, and those purchases will last several months; it’s not like we’ll consume the whole $106 worth in a week.

I’ve been noticing, and I’ve heard several others comment, that it seems every time I go to the store, prices are higher on things I regularly buy. When I was younger and prices went up, so did income. That made it easier to take. Now, prices go up and incomes go down—or become well-nigh non-existent.

This summer has been tough on farmers across much of the nation. The corn crop in particular has been hard-hit, but also fruits and some vegetables.

For an example of the vegetable problem, let’s look at those purple beans as well as the ones of the more conventional green. The beans in our garden are not doing at all well this year. My oldest daughter, who lives in Columbus, participates in one of these harvest-sharing programs. That is, she’s a recipient, not a grower. And she hasn’t gotten any beans all summer, because apparently the growers there are having the same problem we’re having. Last week, we were talking with a friend who owns a restaurant, and she told us that three weeks ago she paid $20 a bushel for green beans; last week, she paid $40.

So what’s the big deal? Eat something else.

Here’s the deal. Not only are beans suffering, but so’s corn. I don’t care that much about sweetcorn, as it’s not something I buy. But field corn is a serious issue. A scarcity of that will affect the price of almost everything, because it’s used in so many things—not only cereal and cereal products, but think of everything that contains corn syrup, cornstarch, corn flour, corn syrup solids, and all that corny stuff. Besides that, it feeds livestock, thus impacting the cost of eggs, chicken, beef, pork, bacon, sausage, ham, turkey, etc. We can expect all those prices to rise in the near future, depending on how badly the corn crop is hurt this year.

I’m not going to look up the statistics, but traditionally, Americans have paid a far smaller percentage of their income for food than most (if any) other nation. We’ve grown up with it and have come to expect it. With our food costs edging up steadily, though, we’re closing the gap. Other countries might think fair’s fair, but we don’t like it.

Earlier yesterday morning, I’d been reading the Bible, in Acts 27, where the ship Paul was traveling on ran into some pretty severe weather conditions. Scotty called the bridge from engineering. “Captain, we’re breaking up!” Well, not exactly. But when he would have, if it were an old Star Trek episode instead of 1st-century earth reality, Paul advised everyone to eat hearty and then throw all their grain overboard to unburden the ship. “This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing,” he told them. “Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health.”

Say what? These sailors hadn’t eaten a thing for fourteen days? Holy hardtack!

I’ll admit: I don’t have much personal experience with or insight into the practical aspects of fasting. But I’d think anyone, even someone who’s not as spoiled and over-fed as I, would be pretty useless after a 14-day starvation diet. How could those sailors function?

I don’t know. It’s something to think about. But it would save on grocery bills.

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2 thoughts on “Thursday’s Thoughts: Mental Meanderings Through the Grocery Aisles

  1. Now that I’m on a fixed income, I’m noticing these prices more than ever. The other problem is things have changed in our eating habits. We don’t eat he things they put on sale or have coupons for, except maybe yogurt, and really, how much yogurt can one person eat? I try to shop on Wednesdays to get the, ahem, senior discount. But it seems we run out of things on Sunday or Thursday. Now, I’m making do without until the next Wednesday. I don’t like it. Sigh.

    1. Agree on the fixed income thing; you don’t get overtime or raises when you’re retired. Also agree about coupons. The store gives double value on the coupons, but I seldom find one for something I use. I’m spoiled though; could eat cheaper if I wanted to. I just don’t wanna! Craig’s grandma used to remark about her senior center friends complaining about the cost of food. She said grocery bills didn’t worry her much because “I know a lot of ways to cook a soup bean.” Yeah. But who really wants to live on beans?

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