Pinch of Faith: Lord, let us be ever grateful for the food on our table

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I am in sticker shock. Just returning from a recent grocery trip to “pick up a few items” and doing an independent audit on my cash register receipt, I was in a state of disbelief. How could such a single bag of food cost so much?  

Being from the forgotten era of price tags on each item in the grocery store, it took a bit of getting used to learning to consult the shelf pricing that evolved. I used to try to round off the contents of my shopping cart, (aka known as a “buggy” here in the South), before I reached the check out, but now it’s more like playing roulette, and almost as dangerous.

When I was a child, my grandmother would pin a grocery list to my shirt and send me to the neighborhood market. It was owned by an individual rather than a chain, and instead of paying with a credit card, my grandparents had a running charge account that they paid off once a month. All we did was sign the ticket when we finished shopping.  

Delivery was free but Grammie always offered the person who delivered to the door a cold drink and an occasional, always appreciated, quarter as a tip. My job was to help put away the groceries and to knead the artificial orange food coloring button throughout the plastic bag of oleomargarine. It was like a large blob of shortening, white as snow, but after my hard work and aching hands were done, that more appealing yellow tinged bag was refrigerated before slicing into serving portions. 

My grandfather would take a heaping knife full, mix it well with some sorghum that was kept on a shelf in the pantry, then spread it generously on a hot, fresh from the oven canned biscuit.  That concoction, along with a strong cup of black coffee, followed by a Lucky Strike® unfiltered cigarette was the morning ritual that “Pop” performed daily.

For those who do not know what sorghum is, it is similar to molasses, but made from sorghum cane rather than from sugar cane like molasses. It is thinner in consistency and slightly sweeter. I recall it being in a large metal can, resembling a gallon of paint. It never held any attraction for me, so I cannot vouch for its taste.  

With increased costs of production and distribution, that same big can that was a staple at my grandparents’ home would likely be far too expensive to purchase at today’s prices. The honey that I like in my morning tea has nearly doubled in price over the past three years, so I am stingy when using it now, but still doing my part to keep the bees in business.

The price of eggs was so high a few months ago that we considered fostering a few chickens for a while. Fortunately, it never came to that, and eggs are now within reach of the average consumers.  

There are shortages in all areas of the food chain and most recently, the summer peaches from Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia are scarce this summer. Georgia farmers estimate that their yield is down by approximately 90 percent and attribute that to a warm winter that caused the fruit trees to produce early buds which were destroyed by a hard freeze in March.  

Similar conditions prevailed in other peach producing areas of the country. While the consumers complain about the scarcity of this fruit, the farmers have suffered a devastating loss of revenue which some may not be able to recoup.

During COVID, we started ordering our groceries online and just picking them up on a specified date and time. I continue to shop on my computer, order the items we need, and park in a designated spot to await my order being loaded into our vehicle. My credit card is already on file and the service is free, so it’s a game changer for me. Reminiscent of the days when Grammie would pin a list to my blouse and send me to the “little store,” the only difference is in the prices – and I don’t get a free piece of penny candy for my efforts.

Lord, let us be ever grateful for the food on our table. Bless those who produced, prepared, and transported it to us. And help us to be mindful of those who are unable to provide for their families and enable us to help those in need. Amen.

Copyright ©2023 Mary Margaret Lambert

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