Combatting sticker shock at the grocery store (anytime)

April 7, 2008

Yesterday I made a quick stop at Jay International Foods on South Grand, and I happened upon a run on rice. Customers in the aisles were quoting the recent prices of rice to each other, and at the checkout there were customers whose carts were loaded with 20-pound bags of rice — and nothing else. The checker said the price will go up again next week, and I confirmed this later in the day with a neighbor who’s a food wholesaler. He said the eventual price rise could be 40 percent. And since this is cheap imported rice, the rise is due to transportation costs, not more U.S. farmers planting corn (since corn doesn’t grow in those rice bogs down in Mississippi and Arkansas anyway).

It really got me thinking about how immigrants must feel when these price jumps occur. We Americans aren’t used to them — but imagine if you were coming from a country where they used to happen a lot, because of civil unrest or some other reason. Wouldn’t it be disconcerting?

My market experience dovetailed with an article in the Post over the weekend, “Belts tighten as everyday costs balloon.” One of the sources in it is a mother of a 2-year-old who started a coupon exchange Yahoo group last month. I know parents coming up with other communal ways to save money, too — a playgroup organizing a babysitting co-op, for example — and while I’m as uneasy about the economic future as everyone else, I think it’s great that people seem to be reaching out to one another to overcome potential cash shortfalls.

And in that spirit, here are some worthwhile links:

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