My daughter texted a picture of hot cross buns to a group of us the other day. It was some kind of an inside joke, I think. I’m not sure I want to know the joke. But reading the label did get me thinking about “rising” food prices and my “knead” for better food options at the grocery store.
Those Rising Prices
Do you remember the song “Hot Cross Buns,” the one everyone had to learn to play on their recorders in elementary school?
Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns!
If only hot cross buns were “one a penny,” or even “two a penny,” today.
Nowadays, the song goes like this:
Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! Eight for $5.50, eight for $5.50, hot cross buns!
That’s 69 pennies apiece. Can you say “inflation”?
A typical full bag of groceries used to cost me about $10. A full trunk-load of groceries once a week, maybe 8 bags, came to under $100. But now I’m lucky if I get 4 bags for $100, and my haul doesn’t look like much when I take everything out and place it on the counter.
That Sinking Quality
Diminished quality is another problem I’m seeing when I go food shopping. Some of that is understandable, due to pandemic-related shipping and labor issues. Still, it rankles me when I buy a package of supposedly fresh strawberries that go moldy within a day or two, or when I try to find a dairy product that doesn’t contain carrageenan.
Returning to those 8 hot cross buns for a minute (which weren’t even hot), rather than spacing them out in the package a little to protect their texture, they’ve been needlessly jammed together like sardines, in a space where maybe 4 or 6 should have gone. Plus, they’ve been encased in a plastic lid that’s probably trapping moisture inside, and that glaze looks like car wax. Let’s add another verse to our song:
Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! Heavy, chewy, tops are gooey, hot cross buns!
Yes, while prices rise, quality is going downhill faster than Jussie Smollett‘s acting career. Just two days ago, I needed to buy a baked potato, and the only individual potatoes they sold were shrink-wrapped. I felt bad about the plastic until I remembered reading a scientific article that said wrapped produce contributes LESS to global warming than unwrapped produce does. That’s because unwrapped produce supposedly spoils faster, and more often ends up in landfills where it produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Peering through the plastic, I judged the potato to be a good one – no green spots, no sprouts. Even unwrapped, it passed muster. But to my chagrin, after I had baked and peeled it, it was bright green inside, and not just right next to the skin. This is bad. Potatoes turn green because they’ve seen the light of day for far too long. And green potatoes may contain solanine, a toxin.
Not to be a Debbie Downer, but additives in foods are another issue I take issue with.
Those hot cross buns? The package lists 15 main ingredients, but that’s just the start. The following main ingredients contain sub-ingredients (ingredients within ingredients). The numbers of sub-ingredients are shown below:
- Dried cranberries (3)
- Margarine (12)
- Infused dried orange peel (3)
- Food enzymes (3)
- Icing (9)
- Glaze (9)
Yes, that car wax glaze that makes the buns shine brighter than the sun comes from the combination of water, cane sugar, glucose syrup, pectin, citric acid, natural flavor, carrageenan, sodium citrate, and xanthan gum that only modern food technology can provide.
This is one of many reasons I’ve started baking my own bread. I’ll write a post about that soon.
If you haven’t already done so, please check out my brand new book, “Wordle Poems: A Poem a Day for Wordle Nerds,” on Amazon. It contains 30 original poems inspired by the daily act of Wordling. No spoilers! Reviews are greatly appreciated!
For more of my writing, visit my author page over at Bardsy, as well as my book, “Standing in the Surf,” on Amazon. It’s a photo journal about the Pacific Northwest area known as the Salish Sea, which includes Whidbey Island, Vancouver Island, Stanley Park, Butchart Gardens, and more.