Every once in a while, when probing the dark corners of my food shelves, mostly out of curiosity about that mysterious, half-used, dusty package of something that seemed critical to a recipe made only once, I encounter a can with a price tag. You may have to be of a certain age to remember the sight and sound of the stock boy in the supermarket aisle, leaning over a case of cans, inking each with a staccato of a price gun before arranging them on the shelf. Easy to know the price of what you bought. Easy to compare prices when you got home. I have to believe that this up-front-and-center approach to what things cost made it easier for mothers to enforce a “don’t touch, don’t eat” policy when it was clear the numbers on that item were bigger than on something else.
Not so easy today with the prices encrypted into bar codes, defying even the most savvy shopper to remember the price on the shelf in the short walk to the checkout laser reader. It’s even harder to know if you are paying more than you did two years ago. No wonder we Americans have no idea about the price of food and even less understanding about its true cost.
Reporters at the Lewiston Tribune (Idaho) recently returned to area grocery stores to compare prices between them and to compare prices for the same items two years ago. They created this wonderful graphic of their discoveries. Read more about their results here.
Janie Burns is a member of the TVFC steering committee. She is owner of Meadowlark Farm in Nampa, ID.