It is evi­dent.  My last few trips to the gro­cery store have yield­ed what I believe what oth­ers have been talk­ing about now for some time.  But to me it is visu­al­ly notice­able.  I know this because I am a crea­ture of habit.  Being a sin­gle guy, I gen­er­al­ly pur­chase the same things over and over again on a reg­u­lar basis.  For instance, as a sam­ple I will buy some of the fol­low­ing items for both imme­di­ate con­sump­tion and as preps:

Above are four exam­ples.  These exam­ples are a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of what I buy.  In each case, because I have pur­chased and used them so reg­u­lar­ly in the past 24+ months, I can visu­al­ly tell the dif­fer­ence between what I was pur­chas­ing a lit­tle over a year ago and what I am buy­ing today.  Let me out­line for you the dif­fer­ence of what I used to pur­chase and what I am buy­ing today…

Break­stone’s Cot­tage Cheese Snack Packs.  While the con­tain­er size is the same as it was a year ago, the con­tain­er is no longer full of the cot­tage cheese curd.  It is filled about 3/4 of the way, and the curd, and the last 1/4 of the way is full of a creami­er sub­stance which is still cot­tage cheese but is clear­ly a filler and in my opin­ion obvi­ous­ly cheap­er to keep prof­its the same or high­er.  To boot, like every­thing else, the price has increased in the past year to com­pen­sate for ris­ing fuel costs, etc.

Stop and Shop Mixed Veg­eta­bles.  While the 16 oz. bag of frozen veg­eta­bles has remained the same size, they might as well start call­ing it “Stop and Shop Corn and Veg­eta­bles.”  There has been so much corn added and oth­er veg­eta­bles cut back on, I feel like I need to buy indi­vid­ual bags of veg­eta­bles and mix my own instead of buy­ing the pre­mixed bag.  The point of more corn, well, corn is cheap, and oth­er veg­eta­bles are more expen­sive to grow and process to the bag.  To increase prof­its, low­er costs, or com­pen­sate for ris­ing costs they have aug­ment­ed the bag with few­er peas, car­rots, and green beans.  Sad real­ly, because the nutri­tion­al val­ue of the bag has gone down because of it.

Bum­ble­bee Alba­core Tuna.  Not unlike the above, I have seen a visu­al dif­fer­ence in the can of tuna upon open­ing it.  While it is a 5 oz. can of tuna, there is clear­ly less tuna in the can and more water.  You still have a five oz. can, but there is clear­ly less pro­tein in the can.  The price has stayed rough­ly the same with a slight increase over the past year, but the por­tion is small­er.

Swan­son Canned Chick­en.  Swan­son was prob­a­bly the least sub­tle of the four brands men­tioned.  They went from a 5 oz. can to a 4.5 oz. can and the can size is clear­ly small­er.  They not only decreased the por­tion size by 1/2 an oz.  but it looks like they decreased the can size as well to save mon­ey on pack­ag­ing.  The price of this prod­uct also rough­ly stayed the same, and the por­tion size has decreased.

Now in the defense of each brand, it does not feel like they have pulled back on the qual­i­ty of the food, but have cut back on the por­tions.  With ris­ing food prices, and frankly the price of every­thing else going up, food is the last thing I want to see sac­ri­ficed.  You still have to eat, and you still need calo­ries to keep going.  Assume that por­tions con­tin­ue to shrink and prices remain the same, you may find your­self eat­ing more than the por­tion size in the can or the bag.  Your food cost has already gone up, and by eat­ing more you have effec­tive­ly dou­bled your food costs.

As I write this, I sigh, and think about the TV show on the Trav­el Chan­nel called The Wild With­in.   The host, Steven Rinel­la is not only an accom­plished out­doors­man but a writer who has writ­ten for many rep­utable mag­a­zines.  In the show he tries to illus­trate where our food real­ly comes from.  It has actu­al­ly served as a reminder that the gro­cery store is actu­al­ly the des­ti­na­tion, not where it orig­i­nates.

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I’m not going to get into the ben­e­fits of can­ning and dehy­drat­ing here.  To be hon­est, I should be doing more of that, and I may in the near future because of where I see food prices going.  This past week­end dur­ing my camp­ing trip, my bud­dy and I smoked some Mar­lin, Chick­en, and Salmon fil­lets.  I now have a cou­ple pounds of pre­served salmon and sev­er­al pounds of pre­served chick­en in the freez­er.  I can take that out any­time, and it will last for days in the open air, and months in the refrig­er­a­tor.  This helps to pre­serve my food cost, as well as make a tasty treat from time to time.  That said, can­ning is def­i­nite­ly on the agen­da in the near future, since  I’ve writ­ten about the Sub­ur­ban Farm­ers Mar­ket in the past…

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