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View from Hickory Heights: Eating is a luxury

In the ’70s, I remember seeing a political cartoon of a woman pushing a grocery cart full of money to the store. We all laughed at it, but now it is coming to fruition. When you visit the grocery store today you better have a lot of money with you.

When I was in Aldi’s last week a young couple was just ahead of me. The young man said, “When I spent over ninety dollars, I used to have a full cart, but today I got just two bags.” How true that is. What is going on?

I know during COVID the supply change was all messed up, but I think it is straightened out now. What makes groceries so expensive? I know for sure that the farmers are not getting nearly five dollars for a gallon milk and the egg farmers are not getting five dollars a dozen for their eggs either. Where are the high prices going to?

It is getting so eating is a luxury. You have to budget your money accordingly. What can you make that is nutritious and yet does not cost an arm and a leg? I am a pretty careful shopper. I buy when things are on sale. Every week when I go to the grocery store the price of the basics is up. Meat is out of sight. Even a pound of good hamburger is six dollars a pound. I do not balk at the price because my son sells it and I love his ground beef. It is not full of fat and yet it has flavor.

Chicken is up almost 100%. The legs and thighs that I was purchasing for a dollar a pound is now over two dollars a pound and even some of it is three dollars a pound. Chicken farmers are not making a huge profit.

Our farmers work hard to produce our food. It is their way of life. They do not expect to make a huge profit but they certainly deserve more than they are getting.

On Facebook I saw what was called a Super Add-a-matic. It was a little red gizmo for you to tally your purchase. There were three buttons. There was a button for dollars, one for dimes, and one for cents. I used to use one of those so that I would not go over my grocery budget. I think mine had four buttons though since I know it went to thirty dollars. If I shopped for two weeks it cost me somewhere between twenty and twenty-five dollars. If I was shopping for the month, it got closer to forty dollars.

I paid for my groceries with cash. That was all the cash I had with me. This is how I used the little calculator. If an item was more than 50 cents, I went up to the next dollar. If it was less than 50 cents, I went down. I came out fairly accurately doing things that way. If I happened to exceed my allotted amount, I had to put something back. We were purchasing our meat, our eggs, as well as coffee, flour, sugar, and butter. I had many vegetables and fruits in my freezer or in jars down cellar. I canned and froze as much as I could to help my grocery budget. I also went to the wholesale bakery for my bread. We bought few treats. My husband used to ask me what I purchased that was ready to eat. There was almost nothing, I had to fix whatever we were to have to eat.

If I had to use one of those calculators now, I would not be able to get much. A loaf of bread, a pound of coffee, a gallon of milk, and some eggs and there would be little left for anything else. I am not sure how families are making it these days. Even though many of them have double incomes, things do not tally up.

As for those who are not working, I do not get it.

What are they living on? I think most of the perks instituted during COVID have expired. Of course, there are safety nets built into the system. I suppose they are using them.

How about a committee to determine why we are paying so much for groceries and gasoline? Just a couple years ago we were paying a lot less!

The government answer is to raise the minimum wage.

Don’t they realize that that just raises the prices that we pay for things?

Ann Swanson writes from Russell. Contact her at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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