RICHARD ORD: It's our pockets the supermarkets are picking ... not tomatoes

When a Labour MP tried to put one over Tory minister Theresa Coffey in the House of Commons by asking if she knew the price of a pint of milk or cost of a loaf of bread, it turned out to be a spectacular own goal.
Supermarket tomatoes... another vine mess.Supermarket tomatoes... another vine mess.
Supermarket tomatoes... another vine mess.

Instead of stumbling over the question or blurting out ‘I don’t know, ask my butler’ she, quick as a flash, retorted: “A pint is 95 pence, two pints, £1.20. And depending on the type of bread you get, the last one I bought was £1.25 for seeded loaf from Tesco.’

Crestfallen, the Labour MP Jim McMahon was forced to carry on with Tory laughter ringing in his ears.

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He was either unlucky in that Coffey had just returned from a shop at Tesco when he tried to catch her out, or Tory ministers are getting daily briefings on the price of household staples in a desperate bid to make them appear like normal people. A few weeks later, Coffey was urging the public to sidestep the current food crisis by dining out on turnips. Hmm, lack of normality resumed.

With food prices rocketing, every supermarket purchase has to be justified.

Which is why I’ve started to question what I had previously taken as normal.

Take tomatoes for example (somebody has, judging by their scarcity in the shops). I would always go for the cheap salad tomatoes in the veg aisle but for special occasions I would pay extra for vine-ripened tomatoes. The supermarkets leave you in no doubt that these are vine-ripened… because they’re still on their vines!

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But why should we pay sometimes as much as 80p more for vine-ripened tomatoes? Surely they should be cheaper. There must be a cost to picking the tomatoes off the vine and then storing them somewhere safe to ripen as opposed to the vine-ripened variety. They’re just left on the vines and not even picked. They just take the vine with them.

I mean, you would be annoyed to pay extra for a chicken that hadn’t been plucked. So why aren’t we getting annoyed about tomatoes that haven’t even been picked?

That said, if the supermarkets told us unplucked chickens were ‘Au Naturel’ we’d probably lap it up and pay the extra. I mean, we’re happy enough to do the job of check-out staff and pack our buys ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​for no financial gain, so why not pay over the odds for produce we have to pluck ourselves? ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

I'm sure there’s a pluck pun I could use here… but it escapes me for now. I’ll stick to the tomato theme and say it’s another ‘vine' mess. Don’t you agree?