Where are the non-frozen chicken packages? Bananas? Paper towels? Oh, goodness, we're not going to start running out of toilet paper again, are we?
You might have noticed. The food aisles are starting to go Soviet on us again. At first, we thought it was just one particular store that might have misjudged an order or something. But then the family started talking about it. And the neighbors.
The empty shelves aren't a one-off. And something should have told us that these big box stores know the minute a cucumber goes out the front door, and have already ordered one to come through the back. This isn't 1970.
So what is going on?
A myriad of stories in the media have a myriad of explanations. Here is what we can determine, if not devour:
• We're still in a pandemic.
According to The Washington Post, the omicron variant means that more stores have more work to do--deep cleaning, etc.--and more and more employees have to call in sick or quarantine. According to the CEO of the Consumer Brands Association: "Throw on top of that being down 80,000 drivers nationally, and another 10 percent of workers being absent at food manufacturing facilities, and you're putting a lot of pressure on the system all at one time."
• It's winter.
The cold is getting worse up north. When a cold snap hits like this week, even those in Boston head for grocery stores to stock up. Although we're still not certain why milk and bread are the first to go. What are you all making? Milk sandwiches?
• Many school districts are out.
So many more families are having to make many more meals at home.
• The supply chain is still snarled.
Bananas don't grow in Iowa. They have to be shipped in.
• People have decided against restaurants.
Again. For now. See "many more meals at home" above. And inflation isn't helping everybody's wallet, so people look for places to save money.
Supposedly, this is a temporary aligning of all the problems that come with stocking shelves. We shall see. We saw the spaghetti sauce aisle abandoned the other day. Got to have pasta on these dark winter nights.