The buyer is at a disadvantage here in regard to quantities, for the baskets in which fruits and vegetables are sold do not always conform to the standard dry measures, and dishonest dealers evade the law in regard to the use of standard scales. Even if they have the standard, they resort to tricks that give the customer short weights. Here the Bureau of Weights and Measures, with its Commissioner and corps of inspectors, comes to the aid of the purchaser. Effective work has been done in our cities in enforcing the laws, and this work continues.
Selling fruit, vegetables, and even eggs by weight would simplify matters in many ways, and this is the custom in some parts of the United States with vegetables and fruit, although it is not yet a common practice; with eggs it seems more convenient to sell by the dozen, but grading according to size is a step toward standardization.
The alluring packages in which so many articles are offered are quite uneven as to the quantities they contain. They certainly do away with some handling of food, and they keep out dust. Unfortunately, an attractive package does not guarantee a clean factory or clean handling in the packing. Dried figs, for example, in pretty baskets are sometimes packed in uncleanly places. Moreover, small packages are poor economy, since the box adds to the cost of the food material, and sometimes there seems even more package than food. If the family consumes many biscuits or "crackers," it costs considerably more to buy them in packages. Yet, these are convenient, and should be cleanly, and are justified for these reasons, provided the housekeeper does not buy many small packages.
The quantities in canned goods are variable and sometimes below measure when purchased from a second-rate dealer. In September, 1914, the net weight amendment to the National Food Law will go into effect, after which, in general, foods sold in packages must be labeled to show net weight or measure or numerical count.
As already suggested, you should own standard scales for testing the purchases made by weight, even baker's bread. Buy fruit and vegetables by the quart, peck, and bushel, rather than by the basket of uncertain measure. Examine baskets containing small fruits to see if they have false bottoms. If you discover small measure, report at once to the dealer, and to whatever authority has charge of such matters in your town.