Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Grocery Store Conspiracy

These 2 steaks were originally 1 giant steak
I have heard a theory that the reason "good" foods like unprocessed meats, fruits, and vegetables are so much more expensive than "bad" foods like boxed meals and ramen noodles is because grocery stores benefit from a "fat America".  The theory posits that if people are subliminally encouraged to eat crap in the name of financial hardship they will eventually have to (or choose to) spend money on other products such as diet pills, exercise equipment, pharmaceuticals, vitamins, etc ... most of which can also be purchased from your average, every day grocery store down the street.

I have always dismissed this theory on the basis that it seemed like too much of a "long shot" for the grocery stores.  With some experience in balancing a pricing matrix of my own, both at work and with my books, I know that it's often beneficial to do a BOGO (buy-one, get-one) deal, and other similar deals, if the retail value of one object is more than double the wholesale cost of both objects together.  Then you think you're getting a deal but the store is still, in fact, making a profit and selling more product than they might otherwise.  I also know from multiple previous experiences in retail that many retailers mark their products up by at least 2.5 times what they pay for it.  Example: A necklace that I buy wholesale for $3 I can sell at retail for $7.50 or more (I don't have this luxury with my books because that would price them over $25 a pop and no one would pay that much for them).  So in order for grocery stores to sell "bad" food so cheap they have to still be making money off of it or it wouldn't be worth it for them in the hope that you'll spend more on pharmaceuticals than they've lost on the bad food you might have purchased over the last 10 years or so.  Sure, maybe they're overpricing their meat and produce but it does seem like those things would cost more to provide in stores than a box of Roni right?  I mean produce and meat has to be refrigerated, it has a shorter shelf life which means profit loss on spoiled food, a problem you don't have with boxed noodles and canned ravioli.

But then we went to our local ceviche market for, what else, ceviche and decided that we should check out the other items on our shopping list while we were there to see if we could save some money.  First of all, the ceviche market is owned, operated, and caters to Mexican Americans and the latino community in general so even though it's a big, clean, beautiful grocery store many of the items on the shelves are things I've never seen before.  I don't mind that though, I love browsing ethnic grocery stores and I remember how much Snackers and I loved the one that we found in Korea town.  But explain to me how WalMart, Smith's, Albertson's, and Fresh & Easy all sell our favorite steaks for around $7 per lb but this latino grocery store can sell it for $3?  And, this is the real kicker, it looks soooo much better at the latino store!  In WalMart, especially, you have to be really picky when picking out fresh meat because a lot of their meats are left out long enough that they start to turn brown inside their packaging and yet the entire meat counter at the latino market was a beautiful bright red color and looked as though it had been cut fresh off the cow just hours before.  And that's not the only thing, the produce section at the latino market is bigger, fresher, more affordable, and a much much larger selection.  Milk, dairy, and bread products, however, were at least $1 more than what we get them for in our usual haunts.  One thing to be learned is that if you can do it without spending more on gas driving from place to place than what you save on groceries, it can be really beneficial to shop your list from multiple stores.  It might seem like $1 here and $2 there but we bought 5 LBS of lovely red steak for $15 and in the past we've paid $14 for 2 lbs of the exact same cut at other stores.  Food for thought ... literally.

130 oz of water
1 cup of coffee w/creamer
1 granola bar
1 fruit bar
1 fish burrito
1 weight watchers ice cream
Daily Caloric Intake: 1051

Yoga: 30 minutes
Playing @ the dog park: 1 hr

1 comment:

  1. We've found similar-ish results at our local food co-op. The produce is really cheap. The meat, not so much -- but the tradeoff there is you're getting local-raised, hormone-free, grass-fed meats. So, much healthier meats. Still, IMO, not as tasty or as good a deal as the meats at Costco, so we're mixing it up... eating healthier cuts some days, Costco cuts others.