"You Can Spend Lots of Time Shopping"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, September 27, 2014

Once again it’s time to take a look at changes in the cost of food. The changes are not made by our grocery stores. They are determined by product manufacturers.

Each year I feel it’s necessary to review products available at grocery, drug and convenience stores. It seems you can buy grocery needs just about everywhere. One product you can find at every location is ice cream. We come across it so often we must give in and buy some even though we know it may be contributing to our shrinking clothes.

It’s really hard to understand how one little dish a day can actually add inches to your waist. It’s obvious the ice cream producers are trying to help. They provide a great variety: ice cream bars, Dixie cups, sandwiches and various cartons — all in smaller sizes.

Half-gallon cartons are a thing of the past, but the size of the price tag has gotten larger.

Ice cream is not the only goody we all crave that has shrunk while the price increased. Candy bars are a good example: if they get much smaller, they will not only cause cavities, they will fill them. How about that old favorite Tootsie Pop. They are so small if it weren’t for the sticks, the kids would choke on them. You can almost choke on the price of a bag of them if you want to include them in your Halloween offerings.

I guess I got off to a sweets column because no matter where I go, what flyer I pick up or ads I read in the papers, the push is on for Halloween. No, it’s not even close (in case you thought the date got bumped up) but the stores want to sell all the candy quick so they can roll out the Christmas offerings.

Back to grocery product changes. Why is it fish and other seafood comes from China or Thailand? Most of it is farm-raised and we are told to avoid eating any that is not marked “wild.” I like fresh fish (my history has a lot to do with this fact) and most other seafood. It’s my choice for a meal in Florida, but during the summer choices are few, even at the fish market.

Guess how many Cheerio brands are presently on the shelves? When you shop, can you remember which brand the kids like? My favorite is Honey Nut, my wife prefers the new Protein Cheerios and those are only two of about a dozen to choose from. When you enter the cereal aisle, be prepared to spend some time. Finding the brand you prefer is only half the puzzle because most have various sizes and varieties. If you are cost-conscious, you probably check the cost per serving or per ounce tag on the shelf. Many shoppers think the biggest box is the best buy, but that is often what the manufacturer wants you to believe.

My family is a health conscious group and we shop for the best for our health. We were directed to a specific peanut butter brand because it was touted to be “healthier.” Over the years we continued to select it from the group of choices, but then they removed the larger container as an option. We were forced to choose a smaller jar at a larger price. One day I was shopping with my wife and I suggested she actually compare our brand to the same size jar of another popular spread. You guessed it, the other brand had exactly the same nutritional contents but cost more than a dollar less.

When you get to the dish soaps, you will find one that uses the word “ultra” seven times to describe its ingredients. They also have numerous container sizes and you need to check the per ounce tag to be sure you get the best buy.

I just have to add a question. What are the seeds doing in the bags of grapes that are clearly marked “seedless?” How about when I choose that watermelon that proclaims it is “seedless” and cut it open — boy those sure look like seeds to me. Lot’s of folks can’t handle the seeds, so how about truth in marking.

As I see it, the days of quick shopping trips are gone, especially if you are cost comparing or worried about nutrition. Consider the grocer. He constantly has to create additional shelf space to sell the same products.

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