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Milking the News

Lezlie Lowe gives her five cents worth.


Milk has gone up five cents a litre.

In other news, there’s a crack in the curb at Barrington and Prince, and someone out in Tantallon might flood her backyard for a skating rink this week. 

Honestly---five cents. How is this news?

I mean, I get that this is going to affect the cost of chocolate ice cream and butter croissants and yogurt. I understand that restaurant tabs may go north. But above-the-fold news? What might we see on the cover this weekend? Investigative report: do coyotes truly wanna kill roadrunners?

I’m not really a snotty bitch who can afford to completely ignore the rising cost of gas and TVs and chocolate body paint. (Wait! Is that made with milk chocolate? Will our erotic edibles go up in price too?) Groceries are a necessity. I know it, you know it. 

Milk is a staple. (I will resist, here, a debate on that matter. Back down, vegans and lacto-intolerants! Back down, godfathers of the Canadian Dairy Commission!) And when necessities rise in price---like gas right before the summer and milk every February when the dairy powers-that-be review costs and (inevitably) bump the price---journalists jump down our throats with coverage. They’re just trying to tell stories that affect people. They’re trying to give life to ho-hum bureaucratic decisions and show that they make an impact on our days.

I get the reasoning. I’m just questioning the significance, in light of a little context.

Like, yeah, here’s some: a Dartmouth mother of three interviewed in the Chronicle Herald February 5 said that based on her family’s 12-litre-a-week drinking habit, her grocery bill would rise $30 a year.

A year.

Sure, it’s $30 less in magazines or beef jerky or fancy soap or cigarillos or whatever it is this woman---or anyone else with three milk-nutso kids---likes to buy. 

But this isn’t about the money. Sure, in some cases it is---for people who must make choices between paying the rent and feeding the kids. But for the majority, it’s about our obsession with watching the price of certain goods.

Take gas. We scrutinize. We agonize. We watch and wait and fret. We spend brain power calculating and comparing the price per litre between provinces. We natter and bicker about whether regulation is working or not.

We could be shovelling snow for senior citizens or volunteering as literacy tutors or taking naps. But instead we drive great distances to get a-couple-cents-off-the-litre fuel without a flinch of the brain stem for the extra gas it takes to get to the discount station and back.

It gets worse. People wait in line for bargain-basement gas without clueing in that their time has value attached to it, too. If you sit in a queue for two hours to get three cents off a fill-up on a 45-litre tank, you’re saying your time is worth $.067/hour.

The flip-side of this price-of-liquids fixation? Coffee. People will spend anything on coffee. And I’m not even talking about the $20-a-cup Panama Hacienda La Esmeralda Special coffee at Smiling Goat Organic Espresso Bar on South Park Street (which, by the way, is sold out). I’m talking coffee in general. I’m talking the once-a-day, suck-it-back habit.

The price of coffee goes up sometimes, yes. But no one grumbles, at least not after they’ve calmed their jitters with a morning cup. The news gets hidden mid-way through the business section of the paper and even the folks who notice pay no more than a passing “meh” before they suck back their Americano.

Someone buying a double cappuccino and a muffin every morning on the way to work will shell out in a week more than that Dartmouth mom is going to have to shell out extra for milk over the course of a year.

Yet somehow, milk makes news. Somehow, as the shopping hordes invade the shelves daily at dollar stores for the joy of obtaining disposable you-name-its, as scads of once-optimistic would-be-Pilates-doers fail---this very moment---to go to the gym where they just laid down $600 for the privilege to do so, we whinge over a five cent bump in milk.

I’ll give you all a nickle a litre if you’ll just shut up.


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