Saturday, May 28, 2016

Does It Matter?

After I fussed about the price of tomatoes the other day, someone asked me if it really mattered, if it really made a difference, because it's only a matter of 40 cents.

Let's think this through another way.

It would be fair to say that I eat at least 24 tomatoes each month; I've been Vegetarian for most of my life, so it should be no surprise that I eat a lot of fresh produce.

24 tomatoes = 4 6-item prepacks
4 X $1.70 = $6.80
24 tomatoes = 6 4-item prepacks
6 X $.99 = 5.94

In a year that adds up quite a bit, especially when you consider my weekly food budget of $12-$20.  (The Tightwad Gazette author would figure up all these factioids in cost-per-hour increments and such but neither my math skills nor my patience are up to doing that.)

48 6-item prepacks @ $1.70 each = 81.60
72 4-item prepacks @ $.99 each = 71.20

We also have to consider my refrigerator in our calculations.  As I say often, I have only a dorm-size fridge (by choice, mind you!) so I don't have room to keep tomatoes in there.  I have no problems finishing up a 4-pack of tomatoes but with a six-pack one of the tomatoes may wither before I get the entire package eaten.  It pays to understand your limitations and your habits.  Buying only what I can reasonably eat saves money and avoids waste.

And speaking of waste, there's also another matter at hand here:  wasteful packaging.

Now I can't stop the grocery store from doing what it does.  (I have to live in this little town; getting a reputation for being testy with store managers is unwise.)  The only choice I have is to buy Roma tomatoes (which they rarely pre-package for some reason) instead of Creoles (which are nearly always packaged).  I don't care for the way Roma skins are oiled, so I want Creoles.

What I do have a choice about is what I do with the packaging.  I re-use the plastic wrap when I stored a cut tomato in the fridge.  And, more importantly, I re-use the Styrofoam trays (appropriately cleaned, of course) in packing eBay shipments.  (I include a cute note explaining that I "eco-pack" and none of my buyers have ever complained.)

The thing is that we have choices about what we do.  Yes, sometimes that does mean micro-managing some facets of our lives but I still believe in paying attention to the little the price of Creole tomatoes.

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