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Food Prices That Make You Gasp


weinoo
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Most of the overpriced items I see are so expensive because they come from very far away, or are out of season, and so I don't buy them for those reasons as well. I wouldn't buy one of those little plastic half-pint containers of berries you see in winter not just because they cost $5, but because they come from Chile and taste like nothing. I'll wait until berries are in season, less expensive, and actually good. I guess this is the point others are making--there's usually so much other stuff that is delicious that is in season, local, and less expensive.

For me here in Seattle, anyway. I do understand that in NYC everything is more expensive, and that in some places, there just isn't that much local stuff.

$30 a pound not unheard of for wild caught Washington State salmon in season.

Case in point. If I were you, I probably wouldn't buy salmon. I get the BEST local salmon at my farmer's market for $18.99/lb, and I don't mind paying that for such a great product. But I don't buy the very expensive and shipped-from-afar Maine lobster at the store. Well, once every couple years maybe.

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Surely there is a sunny window somewhere in Japan that would support some potted herbs. That is even less time consuming, and things like basil need cropping anyway to keep from bolting and going to seed.

I'm sure there is. But given it was 7C inside (and even colder outside) my apartment when I woke up this morning, that sunny window sure as heck isn't around here. And those potted herbs wouldn't be thriving right now in these temps. I'd love to have a little garden, but I don't even have the space for large enough containers in which to plant them.

Were I to forage for my food right now, in my immediate vicinity, I could get some non-sweet oranges, and perhaps some persimmons. Period. In terms of hunting, I might be able to get some little birds, or perhaps a stray cat. I could definitely get some crows.

And Asian markets (if we're speaking about SE Asian in particular), they're just as expensive as regular supermarkets (and for some things, even more expensive). I just paid Y2900 for a 5kg bag of Thai rice. I could have had a 5kg bag of Japanese rice for Y1500, but I'd rather have something I enjoy even if it's more expensive.

I think that's the point of the original question--what are you willing to pay for something you'll enjoy. hummingbirdkiss' answer was that she'd rather not pay much at all, but enjoy what she can get cheaply. Simple. I'm sure there was no intent to judge others as being silly or unreasonable for doing otherwise, but for some reason, that is how it has come across. At least to me...

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Limes. I have to have limes. I drink tap water by the 32-oz. glass all day long. (I won't buy water in a bottle, unless I'm on the road.) But lime juice makes even the worst tap water drinkable.

My local grocery store is selling limes for $0.89 EACH! And I bought. A trip to my favorite Asian market bought me 7 limes for a buck!

I buy in season and local for the most part, but limes are not subject to those buying rules! :hmmm:

I guess we all have weaknesses!

Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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In addition to the TopsyTurvy Planters andie mentioned, three are also self watering Earth Boxes out there for those who have no garden space. Many gardeners who are handy build them themselves out of Rubbermaid storage bins and some pvc.

I have seen the Earth Box type with two 10 foot tall indeterminate tomato plants in them, bearing heavily. Many gardeners up north who can't plant in the ground use them to extend the growing season, placing them on casters so they can be wheeled in on cool nights.

Here are some really impressive results.

Now, if the city would just let me keep a cow, a pig and a few chickens around - I'd kiss WF goodbye! :biggrin:

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Sometimes the cost of an item is not measured in money, but in time. Time is rather a precious comodity for many people, and the hunting-and-gathering method of shopping requires a lot of it, often making an item much too expensive for this type of purchase. Working part-time would definitely mean having more time for shopping, but it is not an option for most of us. So we pay more money for things, because often the money is more at our disposal than the time needed to find a cheaper and acceptable alternative.

I used to have windowboxes of herbs; tarragon (my favorite), mint, dill, oregano, a few others. I loved growing them, and they were certainly beautiful. But I don't get enough sun, and the herbs simply didn't have much flavor. :sad: My windows face north, and although I have huge enormous windows that let in a lot of light, I do not get the direct sunlight these herbs needed. (I used up all of my tarragon for a single dish!) So, much as I hate it, I spend a fortune on herbs during the winter. There is one store around my neighborhood -- Hell's Kitchen -- that does sell herbs at reasonable prices, and I take advantage of this a lot. But they don't always have what I want, and I don't have the time to go shopping around to find another possibility, so I just end up paying more or changing my menu.

Sorry for the long-winded post, but the point is that "cost" is not always a matter of money.

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I gladly pay higher prices for items when I know (or think) they're better than similar items that are cheaper and not as good. Buying the cheaper item is usually the waste of money, IMO. But what really pisses me off, and I find it happening a lot more often (in such places as Whole Foods and even the Union Square green market), is when I buy the higher-priced, presumably better item and it is simply NOT GOOD. :sad: Raising the price does not make something taste better!

Don't tell the oenophiles!

However, your attitude somewhat mirrors mine: If I know I will get something better for the extra dough (e.g., Parmigiano-Reggiano at $14/lb vs. the pre-grated stuff in the cans at $6-$8/lb), I will gladly pay the premium, but often enough, the relationship between price and quality is nonlinear. And regardless how much I'm paying, I always want to pay the lowest possible price.

Bravo to Hummingbirdkiss for her perspective on hunt & forage VS getting screwed by Whole Foods and other of  that ilk.

In my area, quite urban by the way, it is easy to forage for something good to eat. There are canyons that have immense patches of cactus paddles...free...and an excellent source of nutrients.

The near-by valleys offer up wonderful mushrooms....and I can always find free growing trees of limes, lemons, oranges and grapefruit.

Not everything needs to be bought......we would become a better society if we just took the time to see what we have and what Mother nature is offering us.

I've been told that the nuts inside the seed pods of the female gingko tree are considered a delicacy by the Chinese, and older Chinese women routinely forage for them on the streets of New York City.

We could use more of these foragers here in Philadelphia, where gingkos are far more common (I believe they were introduced to the United States here). Or maybe I could use (a) some recipes (b) some instructions on how to extricate the nut without stinking up the place.

I am in the same place hummingbirdkiss is - hunt, forage, grow.

Surely there is a sunny window somewhere in Japan that would support some potted herbs. That is even less time consuming, and things like basil need cropping anyway to keep from bolting and going to seed.

My passion is tomatoes - and have several growing in containers. The cost of seed is much less than fruit, and for the heirloom types I grow - you just can't buy them at WF. They don't exist there at the same vine ripened quality that you can get from home grown. What they do have in that area is prohibitively expensive. I won't do it.

Quality meat - well I just bite the bullet. :biggrin: Although I still have friends in GA who will toss me some venison from time to time.

Tomatoes are easy to grow on one's windowsill, right?

I live in an apartment with large south-facing windows.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Tomatoes are easy to grow on one's windowsill, right?

I live in an apartment with large south-facing windows.

Tomatoes (and other fruits, like peppers) will need to be pollinated, and so being outside or at an open window, will facilitate that. But once the fruit has appeared, then go ahead and bring the plants inside. During the flowering stage, really all you need to do is open a window, and allow the bees inside.

I've successfully brough potted tomatoes inside at the end of the summer, and been eating fresh, vine riped toms in November.

Many gardeners who are handy build them themselves out of Rubbermaid storage bins and some pvc.

My outside space has enough room for one bbq and 2 chairs (small). We have 2 or 3 pots of herbs. That's about it.

So, sometimes I have to bite the bullet and buy the $3.99 plastic pack of sage or basil. Or spend $1.99 on parsley.

But what I WON'T do is spend more than $6/100 gms ($27/lb) on cheese, which I love. Or more than $25/lb on meat.

Karen Dar Woon

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Tomatoes are easy to grow on one's windowsill, right?

I live in an apartment with large south-facing windows.

You should be fine as long as they are getting a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight. Note: Don't gauge the amount of sunlight this location is getting by this time of year. As the days lengthen and the sun sits higher on the horizon, you should be getting increasingly more sunlight until June.

There is a pollination issue, as KarenDW pointed out. But, because tomatoes are self pollinated, it can be gotten around indoors relatively easily. A fan on them will help. Many growers, including those that grow outdoors, just thump the stems below the bloom cluster to shake the pollen loose. Others I know have purchased electric toothbrushes and used them to vibrate blooms to ensure more uniform fruits and better fruit set. Greenhouse tomato growers do this all the time.

It's been my experience that temperature and humidity have more to do with pollination than insect activity, although I do have a healthy population of halcid (or sweat) bees in the area. Low humidity, night temps above 55 and day temps under 80 are optimal for fruitset.

If you decide to give it a whirl, drop me a PM and I can hook you up with some seed of some heirloom varieties that are appropriate, or you could probably find a nursery in your area that will be happy to sell you plants. I think you are USDA Zone 7, so starting seed within the next month would be good timing, and tomato seeds are remarkably easy to start. Most of the heirlooms don't display the vigor and production of hybrid varieties, but I grow for taste, not for appearance.

The Earth Box type design might be a bit messy indoors, because there is a water overflow. I like them because you load them up with the appropriate soil and nutrients, plant them, and then they are maintenance free for the season except for keeping an eye on the water level. I have always thought that in an urban setting Earth Boxes on a roof top would be ideal, but not practical or possible in all situations of course.

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.....I've been told that the nuts inside the seed pods of the female gingko tree are considered a delicacy by the Chinese, and older Chinese women routinely forage for them on the streets of New York City.

We could use more of these foragers here in Philadelphia, where gingkos are far more common (I believe they were introduced to the United States here).  Or maybe I could use (a) some recipes (b) some instructions on how to extricate the nut without stinking up the place.

The only way is to do it outside..or wait until the fruits have rotted off the seeds and harvest them that way ..they do have a pungent :raz: smell that is for sure.....we have a few very mature and productive ginkos in the park near my house and I usually just walk around under the trees and picked up the clean nuts off the ground ..no mess at all if you wait until the fruit is gone ..

they are very good nuts and in the same park I seem to find a bunch of Prince mushrooms each year...

side note when picking mushrooms or anything else berries nuts whatever.. in public areas call the place or talk to the groundkeepers to see when/if they spray ...I have one guy who will let me know if he sees a mushroom patch holds off on spraying and looks at me in disbelief that I have not killed myself yet eating " those things"

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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Sometimes the cost of an item is not measured in money, but in time. Time is rather a precious comodity for many people, and the hunting-and-gathering method of shopping requires a lot of it, often making an item much too expensive for this type of purchase. Working part-time would definitely mean having more time for shopping, but it is not an option for most of us. So we pay more money for things, because often the money is more at our disposal than the time needed to find a cheaper and acceptable alternative.

I used to have windowboxes of herbs; tarragon (my favorite), mint, dill, oregano, a few others. I loved growing them, and they were certainly beautiful. But I don't get enough sun, and the herbs simply didn't have much flavor.  :sad: My windows face north, and although I have huge enormous windows that let in a lot of light, I do not get the direct sunlight these herbs needed. (I used up all of my tarragon for a single dish!) So, much as I hate it, I spend a fortune on herbs during the winter. There is one store around my neighborhood -- Hell's Kitchen -- that does sell herbs at reasonable prices, and I take advantage of this a lot. But they don't always have what I want, and I don't have the time to go shopping around to find another possibility, so I just end up paying more or changing my menu.

Sorry for the long-winded post, but the point is that "cost" is not always a matter of money.

this is exactly my point but from the other side of the coin! I do not begrudge anyone spending more money than time ..I just have choosen time and live on less money ...I love what I do for a living but I really love wandering around finding food and seeing how well I can eat for as little as possible ..and so far I have done very well ..since I have been doing this since I was a little girl I have had a lot of practice! ..to me work is work and since I am food obsessed I would rather go and spend a day shopping or stop after work at a few of my local shops ..or even jump out of the car on the way too and from my job to grab mushrooms or berries or something I see that could be dinner that night...I would rather to all that work to avoid overtime and shopping online or at WF or whatever...because that just seems all to easy for me I guess... I also as I said have managed to maneuver our lives and where we live to accomodate that.. ...our house is very energy efficient and we are improving that every day ...everything we do in our life is focused on allowing for more "time" and money live like we do...

if I gasp at paying $20/lb or more for a piece of meat or seafood...it is because I will not do that ..there is no reason in the world I should! I can buy the same thing from a quality butcher or from a kid who raises it ..or go fishing for a day...

also there is the "want" factor..rarely is there a dish I want so badly that I am willing to pay a huge amt of money to make it ...I can always and find it fun to compromise and having something else instead ..I just move on ..my "want" is not a priority since I love so many foods I can easily "want" something else at the drop of a hat!

I do not think at all my life is any easier or better than anyone elses ...please know that ..in some respects it is harder ...and not at all appealing ..just ask my friends who will come eat but can not "imagine how you do this!!! or why you would want to!!" it is just another option if you are sick of working so much for "The Man" dont complain ..there are options no matter where you live!!! But it does take dedication, time and a love of wandering around in order to do it..if not then that is fine too ...not a thing wrong with any of it!

(I am leaving for work early today because I think I caught some shaggy mane mushrooms in the corner of my eye in a spot where dogs dont roam!!!)

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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Okinawa in the early 70's the yen was 320 to the US dollar...In the early 80's it was around 220 to the dollar. Just 2 years ago it was about even up....110 to the US dollar. The funny thing about this is this.... the price of a can of coke in Okinawa was the same in 1972 as it was in 2006.

As to not derail the thread... look at the prices of lesser cuts of meat and poultry. Chicken wings the same as legs and thighs ??? I understand the what to do with the left over chicken part mentality. A dozen wings creates a lot of chicken parts. But how can they explain the rise in oxtail to $4.99 @ $5.99 a pound ?

Oh yeah...while I'm venting $3.99 a pound for tomatoes ???? The drought in Florida was over 3 years ago!!!

It's seems our brothers have learned from the gas barons....once the price goes up it can stay up.

-Jimmy

Typos are Copyrighted @

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I paid the same for Beef Back Ribs as they were charging for Oxtail yesterday. Don't get me started on skirt steak.

The drought is not over in Florida yet. We are still on one day a week watering restrictions. Particularly dry is Central Florida - tomato country.

Three years ago were the hurricanes. Then the Army Corps of Engineers reduced the lake level at Okeechobee in order to avoid a Katrina like episode. No hurricanes since!

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Ironically I had a dinner gathering on Saturday...and we had a vigorous conversation about Oxtails ..meat prices.. ..hunting and gathering both in urban and rural areas...and the poor quality/high prices of grocery store meat....we had the table going.. half of us were into taking our time and buying what is reasonable. and in season.. the other half were into what we "want" when we "want" it. regardless of the price...time was more valuable than money...and the conversation was centered around our desire to make a huge pot of "back home style" oxtail soup and gather again for it. soon!..

we were all mutually upset that chain grocers have been charging over $5/lb for them lately and even higher at places like the Metropolitan Market (similar here to WF) ...however ..if you go a few more miles and hit the Korean grocer they are $2.54/lb almost half the price ...our local Mexican butcher is charging just under $3/lb...his are very meaty and nice looking ...

half the table said "I dont care I would buy it for the $5/lb. save the trip elsewhere"

because they work long hours do not like shopping and want this soup for dinner when they want it ..the other half was like I am ...I would start at the Korean Market or the Mexican butcher and go from there ...(never even bothering at the chain store for a dish like this) because usually the vegetables and stock bones ect will be all there and much cheaper to begin with ...

what blows my mind is how can it cost so much in one chain grocer and just 5 miles away a Korean market...is selling them for half the price? same quality and to be honest probably fresher because they move so fast there! where in a place like Albertsons or Safeway depending on the area the oxtails could sit a lot longer before anyone would have the desire to cook them ...

we had the logical talk about "yeah but gas costs so much right now is it really worth the savings?" ...my logic is that if I am making Oxtail soup "like back home" then chances are that all the things I need for the soup.....are going to all be less expensive at the Korean Market so why not drive that extra five miles and just buy everything there?

all the years of taking the time to hunt and gather pays off when you know where to start your shopping trips for a particular dish you want to make.. if I dont buy on the hoof buying at these local markets has for sure been the best bargain I have found...

one thing I notice is that my favorite markets rarely have "sales" or "lost leaders" ..I have asked about this and was told ..

...1. do not have time to do that! 2. if the food is good it sells itself!....I never feel like there is this huge effort to manipulate my spending when I go to a local market ..in fact I have had people who know me take stuff out of my cart saying "dont buy this now come back next week it is going to be half this price and we will have more!"...I love that personal service!!!

the products they push in my favorite shops are usually what they have the most of ..and what they have the most of is usually the stuff that is in season and the freshest!

for instance ...when Jackfruits are in season ... SE Asian Markets here cut them up and wrap them for you...at the same time they give away so many samples that you can eat your weight in Jackfruits for free and then buy it for very little money...granted I can buy jackfruit frozen or canned anytime I want for an insane price..but if I wait a few more months I can have my fill for very little money...

bottom line and what we agreed at the table ..yes we wanted Oxtail soup like "back home" and yes we would try to have it at our next gathering .....since they are easily frozen whomever saw the oxtails for less than $3/lb in the next couple of weeks would go ahead and buy them!

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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Ironically I had a dinner gathering on Saturday...and we had a vigorous conversation about Oxtails ..meat prices.. ..hunting and gathering both in urban and rural areas...and the poor quality/high prices of grocery store meat....we had the table going.. half of us were into taking our time and buying what is reasonable. and in season.. the other half were into  what we "want" when we "want" it. regardless of the price...time was more valuable than money...and the conversation was centered around our desire to make a huge pot of "back home style"  oxtail soup and gather again for it. soon!..

we were all mutually upset that chain grocers have been charging over $5/lb for them lately and even higher at places like the Metropolitan Market (similar here to WF) ...however ..if you go a few more miles and hit the Korean grocer they are $2.54/lb almost half the price ...our local Mexican butcher is charging just under $3/lb...his are very meaty and nice looking ...

DITTO!!! Oxtails were "on sale" up the street last week for $3.99/lb. They looked really good, and yes I bought some, but I didn't have to LIKE doing it.....

Also, it may have already been mentioned, but I just really hate paying so much for pine nuts. I use them a lot, and I'm sure if I planned ahead and bought in bulk they wouldn't be so expensive.

One way around it, and I'm not saying this isn't a little shady....kind of like the controversy over getting two shots of espresso in a large cup at Starbucks and then filling with milk at the condiment station to save two bucks......hell, maybe it was a subconscious protest of those damn oxtail prices, but ANYWAY...

I noticed that the salad bar at the store has a bottle full of pine nuts down by the sesame seeds, croutons, etc. The salad bar is $3.99/lb. You can fit a LOT of pine nuts in one of those little salad containers.......and the rest is history. Sorry if I'm totally evil, or COMPLETELY naive to have just realized this little money-saving factoid.....but all I know is that when my basil comes up this year and I've got "pesto fever", no substituting pine nuts with walnuts for this boy!

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

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I mentioned in another thread that I had spent $1.75 or so each on a few California grown organic oranges at Whole Foods.  Closer to home, I can find oranges in my local store at 4 for a dollar - but they sure don't taste like the ones from WF.  Big, juicy, sweet and tart - awesome (I should have saved the peels).

I've probably paid $4 or $5 each for some tree-ripened peaches from excellent growers.

$30 a pound not unheard of for wild caught Washington State salmon in season. More than that for Nantucket Bay scallops during their fleeting season. $15 a pound for great pork chops.

So none of that bothers me - certainly, living in NYC, we probably pay higher prices all around. I know some of that stuff comes from far away. And we also have lots of choices.  But just the other day at WF, I saw a bag of organic potatoes from Texas that was $5 - for 1.5 pounds - and I put it back - that one bugged me. Yet I'll pay $4 a pound for fingerlings in Union Square.

What's your limit...what will you not pay, or what do you feel is highway robbery in the grocery store, health food store, farmer's market, the local bodega or even at the truck on the side of the road?

I am shameless in this regard - I have gladly paid eight dollars for organic bison sausages (four of them). At two dollars apiece, I guess in retrospect I thought it was pricey, although they were devoid of nitrates of any kind, and produced by a real farmer within 100 miles of my location! Those two mitigating factors made all the difference. Further, they were flavored with whiskey and extremely lean - I cooked them on a contact grill and no fat came out, yet they were not dry, and quite delicious.

In my estimation, the details, if they are noteworthy, make the difference. I will pay pretty much any price for really good quality. I do engage in this activity at small producers or specialty markets where high quality and small quantity are the watchwords, however. Safeway and Sobeys are fine, but do not rate for fine ingredients, at least with me...

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Ironically I had a dinner gathering on Saturday...and we had a vigorous conversation about Oxtails ..meat prices.. ..hunting and gathering both in urban and rural areas...and the poor quality/high prices of grocery store meat....we had the table going.. half of us were into taking our time and buying what is reasonable. and in season.. the other half were into  what we "want" when we "want" it. regardless of the price...time was more valuable than money...and the conversation was centered around our desire to make a huge pot of "back home style"  oxtail soup and gather again for it. soon!..

we were all mutually upset that chain grocers have been charging over $5/lb for them lately and even higher at places like the Metropolitan Market (similar here to WF) ...however ..if you go a few more miles and hit the Korean grocer they are $2.54/lb almost half the price ...our local Mexican butcher is charging just under $3/lb...his are very meaty and nice looking ...

DITTO!!! Oxtails were "on sale" up the street last week for $3.99/lb. They looked really good, and yes I bought some, but I didn't have to LIKE doing it.....

Also, it may have already been mentioned, but I just really hate paying so much for pine nuts. I use them a lot, and I'm sure if I planned ahead and bought in bulk they wouldn't be so expensive.

One way around it, and I'm not saying this isn't a little shady....kind of like the controversy over getting two shots of espresso in a large cup at Starbucks and then filling with milk at the condiment station to save two bucks......hell, maybe it was a subconscious protest of those damn oxtail prices, but ANYWAY...

I noticed that the salad bar at the store has a bottle full of pine nuts down by the sesame seeds, croutons, etc. The salad bar is $3.99/lb. You can fit a LOT of pine nuts in one of those little salad containers.......and the rest is history. Sorry if I'm totally evil, or COMPLETELY naive to have just realized this little money-saving factoid.....but all I know is that when my basil comes up this year and I've got "pesto fever", no substituting pine nuts with walnuts for this boy!

LOL I did the same thing one time with the very pricey toppings ... grabbed the basic salad fixings from a much cheaper place... and then felt guilty and told the guy at the register what I had done ...he looked at me smiled and said "what a brilliant idea why do you feel guilty??? I have a huge family to feed and if you think I will not do this too from how on your nuts!"

I am not cheap ..I love spending money! ..I just do not want to work at my job anymore than three days a week I would rather "WORK FOR FOOD" (maybe that should be my new motto I need a cardboard sign and a sharpie I think) :raz:

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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