Pigs on the table and pigs at the trough – the recession is starting to bite

The so-called ‘recession’ is really beginning to bite, and there’s no clearer sign of it than my supermarket trolley.

I did the second shop of the week yesterday, and frankly it was painful. Since we downshifted to France, money’s always been tight – not allowing much leeway for clothes, or books or holidays etc, but at least we’ve always been able to eat well. Now, with work fast disappearing into the ether and the strong Euro making our UK earnings sink to a pittance, we’re also being hit by the third whammy of food pricing.

A couple months ago, I could do the weekly shop pretty easily for 100 euros, doing the main shop at Lidl and the top-up at SuperU. I struggled to get it down to 75 if we were in a cashflow rut. But now, it’s a struggle to get it below 120 euros and if I turn my back for a second, it’s up to 130 or 140.

What the hell is happening to prices? Surely there’s not less food in the world than there was in January. And there can’t be THAT many more people than two months ago. I know the oil price is savage, but I can’t help thinking that in this case, the supermarkets are also loading the price and taking advantage. And I buy mostly locally produced goods such as meat and vegetables – it’s not as if they’re having to come very far. We don’t buy rice or anything exotic.

OK, I count my blessings here, because at least we live in the West, and there’s a welfare state and with the worst will in the world, we’re not about to starve to death like people in Haiti very well might. But I will admit that it is getting very tedious, constantly shopping for the cheapest cider, the cheapest orange juice, the cheapest cuts of meat, and trying to string together something reasonable out of it.

A caisse de porc, which is a big pack of mixed pork cuts, cost 2.30 euros a kilo three weeks ago, but yesterday it was 4.00. Instead I bought a pack of even cheaper cuts for 2.80 a kilo, which turned out to be massives lumps of pork shoulder. They looked like one of Christopher Moltisanti’s victims, laid out in the kitchen, but thankfully Elizabeth David came to the rescue with cooking methods and we ate porc a la style provencale, with white wine and thyme (it was delicious, btw).

The thing is, how much pork can one family reasonably be expected to eat in a week? This is a meat I used to avoid altogether, but with most other meats coming in above 8 euros per kilo, and fish even worse, pork is suddenly looking a lot more attractive. And the DH is most definitely a meat-eater – middle-class vegetarianism is not an option.

Oh well, since there is nothing we can do about it, we must just get on with it. But I am alone in being pissed at John Paulson? And at George Soros – these people who push money around the world and actually contribute fuck all? We pay about 50 per cent tax on our earnings, while they pay about 15 per cent, and they earned nearly $2 billion between them last year. Wonder how much pork I could buy with that?

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