Anxiety By The Ounce

A reader writes:

Do you do the grocery shopping for your household?  I do most of ours, and I've noticed over the past few years that the amount of food in packages is quietly being downsized while prices remain the same. 

Our favorite brand of broccoli now comes in 14 oz. bags, not 16 oz.  Same goes for our favorite brand of pasta.  Our grocery store now sells boxes of ten cookies instead of a dozen for the same price (and has dropped more expensive ingredients like nuts from some of the recipes).  Packages of sliced cheese and lunch meat weigh 7 oz. instead of 8 oz. Pasta sauce now comes in 26 oz. jars instead of 28 or 32 oz. jars.  You get a lot less tuna and a lot more water in canned tuna these days.  And so on.

Now, in itself this doesn't prove that overall food prices have been going up.  (A number of foods have dropped in price recently, for instance.)  But the incredible shrinking package size is something that people notice, despite manufacturers' best efforts to keep it off our radar screens.  It makes us feel like we've been cheated.  And it makes Palin's demagoguery about rising food prices seem intuitively sensible.  (Especially if you are trying to follow a recipe that calls for a 16 oz. can of tomatoes and you can only find 15 oz. cans!)

For the record, I think Palin is a grifter (and a dangerous one at that), who utterly lacks the moral fiber and work ethic to hold high office.  But she has a real knack for exploiting anxieties and resentments.  Her complaint about rising food prices has traction because it confirms our anecdotal observations, not to mention the general sense that ordinary people are being taken advantage of.

Aaron does indeed do the groceries.