I made a huge pot of Chili a couple of weeks ago. Most people like saltines with their chili. I like Ritz Crackers. But I can’t afford Ritz Crackers. So for as long as I can remember, I’ve been buying Ritz-type snack crackers at Aldi’s. And for as long as I can remember, those crackers cost me 99 cents a box.

So imagine my shock when I went into Aldi’s and their version of Ritz Crackers was now $1.39. That’s 40 cents more than I had expected pay. Percentage-wise that’s close to a 50-percent increase in price. I was shocked. If one box of crackers can now be so much more, what happens if everything we buy is now that much more?

I began checking with others who shop at Aldi’s. Like me, they all remember the crackers being 99 cents. One person did mention $1.29, but 99 cents has been ingrained in people’s minds for so long, it’s the amount that comes to most folk’s minds right away.

As I began to talk with different people about the price of food, one thing became perfectly clear. We can hear different economists argue over whether this country is in a recession or not, but food prices are going sky high, and being able to eat is going to get harder for most people.

With gas hovering over $3 a gallon and many economists claiming the price may rise to $4 a gallon by June, then our food prices will increase to make up the added cost of getting that food to market. As our energy prices rise, so will everything else.

If memories of going to the gas station and buying $2 worth of gas are fading, so will the memory of being able to go to the store and buy milk and cereal for $5.

As we struggle to handle paying higher and higher food prices, we now must contend with the Cook County board increasing our sales taxes-especially when everything else is rising in cost.

I have decided to protest by spending as little money as humanly possible in Cook County. I already combine my trips so that my gas purchases are always outside of the City of Chicago. Now I will have to make sure my food, clothing and everything else is done outside Cook County. For those of us on the West Side, it may mean traveling to Elmhurst, Schaumburg or Oak Brook. But when making a major purchase, the savings can be tremendous.

The only ones who will truly have to pay the new taxes are the poor who don’t have a car to travel outside of the county to shop. These are the same folks the Cook County board tries to claim they are helping. But in reality, they have instituted a plan that will, in the long run, hurt the ones who least can afford it.

When re-election time comes, let us remember those who voted to hurt our pocketbooks the most, while claiming they increased the taxes to help us.

Contact: westside2day@yahoo.com