Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Cheap food, aisle 1

Above: Ron Moss look-a-like.

The genuine article is on the left.
Ron Moss impersonators Gerald Cantor and Ari Silverstein, middle and right respectively.

What is with all this talk about food prices "soaring"? What is everyone buying, weird stuff like frozen dinners or pre-made pie crusts?

These are thoughts that preoccupy me in between trying to straighten out all of Leonard Pennario's concerts at the Hollywood Bowl.

I will grant that a few things are more expensive. Eggs have doubled in price since the days when you could get them for 69 cents a dozen at Wilson Farms. Yesterday at Tops I had to pay $1.29 a dozen, I think it was. And milk is up to $1.69 a gallon. Ouch! Ach du lieber, I should say. Complaining about stuff like this, I feel I am turning into my German grandmother, not that I really knew her seeing that she died in 1936.

But a lot of things have not gone up. Chicken quarters, which I live on, are still 59cents a pound at some places if you know where to go. Whole chickens, 99 cents a pound. I am a walking price index! Another icon of my household, the 28-oz can of tomatoes, is a little over a buck. They have always been that way. Produce is erratic -- here is where you really have to know where to shop -- but I can find big cheap baskets of apples, same as I always do. Zucchini the other day was 89 cents a pound, normal for this time of year, I thought. Must I go on? Stop me, someone!

Here is the clincher. Yesterday at Tops -- this is Tops, now, not the Broadway Market, not Guercio's -- black beans were 43 cents for a one-pound bag. I have never seen black beans anywhere near that cheap! In my considerable experience they have always been at least 99 cents a pound -- usually more like $1.29, which I always figured was because black bean soup is chic and the demand is probably slightly higher than for other beans. I cannot believe I walk around thinking about stuff like this. Anyway, black beans were 43 cents, and so were navy beans! I have never seen the like! I stocked up!

My record for legumes is once I found lentils for 39 cents a pound. But that was about a year ago, at Sav-A-Lot. Yikes, I am embarrassed by my vast knowledge of these matters. I should not be writing a book about Leonard Pennario. I should be writing a book about this.

Let me sum up my thoughts for the day, not an easy thing to do as I am about to leave for the ortho's to get my braces tightened and I am nervous about that. I bet if everyone started cooking and eating real food, instead of buying whatever junk they are buying, we'd hear a lot less griping about "soaring" prices. My recipe for black bean soup is available upon request. It is a goodie. I inherited it from Erna Eaton, the former society editor at The Buffalo News.

Speaking of Erna reminds me of Jocko, who reminds me of Howard (it's great when you have to be reminded of your own husband) who reminds me of his cousin Ron Moss.

We had a Ron Moss impersonator sighting yesterday. Our rule of thumb is to accept no imitations, but we secretly get a kick out of them anyway, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. Howard's friend Bryan Bonn emailed him the picture at the top of this post. You compare. But we suggest you don't try imitating Moss yourself. Definitely don't try it at home.


Bill said...

Your numbers looked a little off, so I did some shoe leather reporting. Now, I'm not saying that the groceries you reference can't be had for the prices you cite, but it does seem to me that in order to get those prices some aggressive shopping has to be done. It's a fine thing to say that the Broadway Market is inexpensive, so everyone should go there, but it flies in the face of most people's reality. The Market is not particularly accessible unless you drive, and its hours are hilarious-- I know banks that are open more. People shop in their neighborhoods, for the most part. In Buffalo that means that many supermarkets draw a pretty diverse economic demographic.

All prices quoted are for store-brand items, at the "shopper's club" discount, which means that there is an additional cost in lost privacy. Your prices in paren: eggs, $1.69 doz ($1.29); milk, $2.59 gal ($1.69); chicken quarters, $1.29 lb ($1.29); whole chicken, .99¢ lb (.99¢); 28 oz can tomatoes, $1.59 ($1+); dried black beans, $1.39 (.43¢).

I'm trying to figure out how to process this.

Mary Kunz Goldman said...

Bill, thanks for your writing and reporting! If you are not careful we will have to sign you on as a www.marykunzgoldman.com staffer.

I could talk about food all day so I'm happy for this dialogue. Here are few things I was thinking about. One, the Broadway Market is in a poor neighborhood so the people who can get there easily are exactly the folks who should be going there. Two, I did point out that to get good prices, shopping savvy helps. You will pay less if you know where to go.

But the prices I quoted were from Tops. I am not normally a Tops shopper because supermarkets stress me out, but I like Tops' fish counter. The milk price of $1.69 was for a half gallon. I should have said that. I did write that the 43-cent black beans price was highly unusual. I think I wrote that, anyway. God knows what I wrote. I do these posts so early in the morning.

The good news: You and I agree on the important things in life, i.e., the price of chicken quarters and whole chicken. Let us drink to that!

Also, I am relieved to know that I'm not the only walking price index in town. Do you have a German grandmother, too?