Thursday, November 20, 2008

I just came across this awesome article about retail rip-offs you should avoid.

I'm going to paste a few here for your reading pleasure.

Pre-cut fruits and vegetables
Pre-cut fruits and vegetables didn't even exist 10 years ago, but Americans spent more than $600 million on prepared salads alone last year. According to Information Resources, Inc., pre-cut vegetables are the fastest-growing category of produce.

We understand that grabbing pre-cut fruit and vegetables can help cut down on your time in the kitchen, but that small convenience carries a big price. It's safe to say you are paying at least double the cost for pre-cut produce versus buying their whole counterparts. Another negative – you aren't getting all the vitamins you think. Tests have shown that pre-cut vegetables, for example, start losing their vitamin C once they are cut!

Anything at eye level in the grocery store.
Here's a great inside tip that we got from a store manager: You'll pay more for items at eye level on the grocery store shelves.

Products with the highest markups get that prime shelf space because the store gets a share of those fat profits. Less profitable products get high and low shelf space at the supermarket, so that's where you are likely to find the best bargains.

Bottled Water
Did you know that the two biggest brands of bottled water in America --Dasani and Aquafina -- are nothing more than purified tap water? In fact, estimates are that 40% of all bottled water is tap water. At close to $2 a bottle, bought alone, that makes bottled water one of the biggest retail rip-offs.

For the price of one bottle of Evian, a San Franciscan can receive 1,000 gallons of tap water. According to "Message in a Bottle" by Charles Fishman, bottled water can cost 10,000 times more than tap water -- about $10 per gallon for high-end brands. And more than 90% of that cost is in the bottle, lid and label -- NOT producing the water.

If you are concerned that your tap water is not as clean as bottled water, buy a water pitcher with a filter or install a filter on your faucet. Then buy re-usable bottles to fill and take with you when you are on the go.

Produce at organic groceries
The huge boom in buying organic produce has led to a huge boom in prices. You'll pay 30 to 50% more for organic produce -- sometimes more if something is not in season. Now, that may be completely worth it to you, but if you are looking for ways to save, here are a few ideas.

First, shop at your local farmers markets and look for farmers growing organically. They likely won't be charging big markups. Next, consider not buying organic when you are shopping for types of produce that use very little pesticide. The top 10 types of produce with the lowest pesticide levels are (starting with the lowest): onion, avocado, sweet corn (frozen), pineapples, mango, asparagus, sweet peas (frozen), kiwi and bananas.

Non-organic produce at organic groceries
Just because produce is being offered at an organic store, does not mean it's organic! Be sure to check the signs and labels before you buy. Non-organic produce often still carries a hefty mark-up at specialty stores.

You could end up paying 30 to 50% more for the same non-organic apples or tomatoes you could get at your regular grocery store. Buyer beware -- read the labels!

Coffee mark-up is insane. And we're not just talking about the fancy "mocha grande latte with soy" kind of coffee. A plain ol' cup of joe can carry an absurd markup.

A plain 16 oz. cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts costs $1.75. You'll pay at least that for a much smaller cup at most restaurants. Consider that a plain 16 oz. cup at home will cost you about $.55.

We're not telling you not to enjoy that occasional coffee run. But just one cup of coffee a day at home rather than buying it could save you $438 a year.

French fries at restaurants
French fries are a big profit maker for restaurants. A 10 ounce potato makes about 90 french fries (that's about the serving size for large fries at a fast food restaurant). That potato costs about 30 cents, but brings the restaurant about $1.75.


Jen said...

this was some good information. i hardly eat french fries anymore, and i get most of my produce from our kick ass food bank. we also use a brita pitcher for our water. i don't mind the extra time i spend in the kitchen slicin' and dicin' for my health and my pocketbook.

Anonymous said...

FYI, onions may not have much pesticide residue, but they are one of the worst offenders, as far as how much chemical is used to grow them. So ecologically very bad... 'cause they grow in the ground they are more susceptible to pathogens. Ditto for potatoes.