I’ll explain the pine cone in a moment. This post is about not all complaints about high prices being created equal.
Grocery prices are high, there’s no question. I’ve made my own comments about taking out a mortgage on a cauliflower. But let’s not confuse things, shall we? We have to eat or we die. We don’t have to buy decorations in order to breathe. So, how about just taking a deep, calming breath before getting all worked up over next-to-nothing.
Food Prices Hit Highs This Year
Loblaws has taken a lot of the heat over high grocery prices, and rightly so. It’s one of Canada’s biggest grocery chains, along with Walmart, Costco, Sobeys, and Metro. Loblaws’ former President Galen Weston Jr. made the colossal mistake – perhaps listened to the wrong marketing agency – and put himself out there as the company’s brand face and voice. It was like appointing Scrooge McDuck the spokesfowl for Ducks Unlimited. A silver-spooned elitist simply can’t relate to the everyday person. Everyone knows he’s got enough money to buy his own small country. We ordinary people just want groceries we can afford.
So, I’m not here to defend Loblaws. Recently, I popped into a Food Basics for a couple of items and saw boneless, skinless chicken breasts for exactly half of what I’d recently paid for the same size package in Loblaws. (Food Basics is owned by Metro.) Even if it was a loss leader, they proved it can be done. On my last big shop at my nearby Loblaws I spent $315 and got 0 PC Optimum points. Those points are a main reason I shop there. But I digress.
Sticks and Stones
This image went semi-viral last week. Someone was outraged that birch branches were being sold for $10 at Loblaws. I don’t understand why this made them upset. (BTW the same sticks are 7.99 at Loblaws St. Thomas.)
Birch branches are not part of an essential diet. I’ve never had a blood test after which my doctor said, you’re deficient in birch branch. You must go buy one, no matter the cost, and gnaw on it immediately! Nor have I had anyone come into my home and say, you’re behind the times. Where is your birch branch? I can no longer be friends with you until you get one. (If that happened, I’d let the friendship go, anyway.)
Put the camera away. Go into the woods. Find a branch. Bring it home. Problem solved.
My point: a birch branch is not butter. It’s not eggs, or milk, or bread, or even cauliflower. It’s an unnecessary item at a stupid price that probably no one is going to buy. And if they do, well, that’s retail, folks. This is completely separate from suspected price gouging over things we have to have. Like food.
Having recently returned from Italy, I have to say I admire their approach to food. No cows near your restaurant? You don’t serve beef. It isn’t common to have something from out of the region shipped in at great expense. If a restaurant is on the coast, they’ll serve fish. Further inland, not so much fish. It is a philosophy that results in moderate costs and fresher food.
Lots of Activity – No Changes
The federal government met with representatives from all five major grocery chains to get their ideas and commitments on how to stabilize food prices. They came up with a five-point plan that includes price matching, freezing prices, and more, and say they will go into effect “soon”. It’s our right to roll our eyes until we see it happen. We are a nation beaten down by gasoline company collusion that we are powerless to do anything about. So, our cynicism is well-earned.
But to lose our minds over a birch branch? I see this as contributing to the problem. Muddying the waters with unrelated noise and clutter. It would be like complaining about the high cost of the gas station’s car wash, and not the gas. Pull out your damn hose and do it yourself! Your car doesn’t have to be clean to start and drive.
Now, the pinecone. I picked it up on a hike a week ago. It’s for sale at $250 with 3.49% financing. It’s a free market system so let’s see who wants my fresh pinecone. If nobody does, I’ll just pack it away until next year and try to charge even more.