Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Know Why they Bought All that Milk, Despite Predicted Outages!

Last week, in preparation for the hurricane, people were buying things left and right from stores. Flashlights and batteries were at a premium. This made sense because a primary concern was widespread power outages. (As an aside, on Saturday morning my husband went to a hardware store, and an employee there -- with a straight face, mind you -- told him the store was not price-gouging and that the keychain-sized flashlight was always $50.)

What didn't make sense was all the standardly packaged milk purchases. A gallon of milk, put in a refrigerator that loses power is not particularly helpful. In fact, it just spoils. So, even though I was down to about a cupful of milk, I resisted the temptation to buy regular milk. Instead, I bought a few single serving individually packaged nonrefridgerated milk (the kind you put in kids lunches: parmalat or Horizon). I figured this would be great if we lost power.

Luckily, we did not lose power. So, I said to my husband Sunday morning, I should stop at the store and buy some milk. What follows is the rest of our conversation.

Husband: Don't buy milk.
Me: Why not? We need milk.
Husband: Only buy milk if the store didn't lose power. If they've lost power, they'll sell you bad milk.
Me: The stores probably have backup generators.
Husband: Generators are expensive. Don't buy milk from a store that's lost power. This is a recession. They're trying to save money anyway they can.
Me: I don't think they want to poison their customers with bad food.
Husband: Call first. If they have power, go ahead. 
Me: So, if they lost power, when can I go shopping?
Husband: You can still shop there. Just don't buy anything refrigerated.
Me: For how long?
Husband: Three weeks.
Me: Sigh.

So, clearly, people have husbands like mine, or are simply like my husband and have decided they can't trust the stores after a power outage. So, next storm, I'll be like all the rest, and buying milk I know will spoil if the power goes out.  Because really, I'd like to have refrigerated food in the weeks following the storm.


  1. Some people loaded up on ice so they could keep stuff they needed chilled in coolers or stand alone freezers.

    I'm with your husband, though. Considering that many stores were price gauging, it's not inconceivable that grocery stores would want to "get rid" of perishables that might not be bad yet but getting there fast.

    The temperature in the refrigerated units probable kept the milk and other perishables cold for awhile but why take the chance. Even if you didn't get sick, the milk would have probably gone bad a lot faster than normal once you got it home.

    It's really a sad commentary on our current society that most businesses are more concerned with making money (like the hardware store) than being good community neighbors.

    I'm not saying that businesses should give stuff away or that they turn into charities. Just good neighborliness would be a welcome change.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Ken. I agree, better safe than sorry. And unfortunately sad that the buyer has to beware all the time, now.