For the first time in a month, I went grocery shopping last week and almost keeled over when I saw the prices. A pound of Great Value butter had increased by a dollar. My favorite club crackers, plain old Kellogg’s family size, were now two dollars higher. One glance at Walmart’s brand of ginger snaps told me I wasn’t going to pay an extra buck for something I certainly did not need. Four ounces of Fleischmann’s rapid rise yeast was $5. I didn’t even bother to check the price of flour. I knew I couldn’t afford it.
As I compared my list against the prices of items I usually purchase, I decided now would be the perfect time to reduce my caloric intake by at least a thousand a day. Maybe even double that. Maybe I should stop consuming store-bought food altogether and start foraging. Dandelions will soon be popping up. I’ve heard they make a great salad as well as an excellent wine. Apparently much of the greenery we call weeds and douse with gallons of Roundup is actually good eats. With the cost of staples skyrocketing, I guess it’s time to rethink what we consume. All those lovely packages with eye-catching slogans might not be worth the price of beans.
Speaking of which, when did plain old dry, hard-as-rocks beans become expensive must-have pantry essentials? I’ve been buying such beans for years because they’re nutritious and cheap, and there’s a large variety to choose from. Conduct a Google search and you’ll find beans you never heard of like pink, adzuki, mung, pigeon and cranberry. The list is endless. As far as taste is concerned, I really didn’t notice much difference between a pigeon pea or a black eyed pea or any of the others, but it was fun ordering weird-sounding beans from Amazon. I didn’t purchase them in bulk, only a pound or two at the most, but between beans and rice, I have enough to get me through the next five years.
I don’t know how women survive a trip to the grocery store without having a panic attack. Between buying food for the family and gasoline for the car, a paycheck doesn’t go far. Factor in the cost of utilities, non-editable but essential household items, pet food, medical expenses and a myriad of unexpected emergencies, and it’s no secret why depression is rampant. Replacing bald tires with new ones is out of the question. Ditto for making roof repairs. If the hot water heater goes, we shower underneath a trickle of cold water.
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All these things pale in comparison to what’s happening in Ukraine. As we watch their country reduced to rubble, our problems seem almost insignificant. After all, no autocrat has invaded the U.S. We’re not being shelled every few minutes. Even if we’re postponing dental or doctor appointments, we’re still buying food and gas. We’re hopeful inflation will eventually melt away like the polar ice caps. We’re hopeful prices will come down once our modern robber barons have filled their coffers until they explode. We have faith inflation will pass and prices will not cause us to panic.
However, sometimes we loose the battle. Butter and beans might climb to $5 a pound. Gasoline might reach $10 a gallon. In which case, we might be forced to dine on dandelions and quack grass and ride a bicycle to work, something previously unthinkable in our modern century.
— To contact Sharon Kennedy, send her an email at authorsharonkennedy.com. Kennedy's latest book, “The SideRoad Kids: Tales from Chippewa County,” is available from her, Amazon, or Audible.
This article originally appeared on The Sault News: Sharon Kennedy: When will skyrocketing prices come down?