Saturday, June 24, 2006

Grocery Confessions

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"Judge not, lest ye be judged...or something like that"

Really? As I understand it, I'm getting judged anyway at the end, so if you don't mind, I'll just keep judgin'.
Bear with me...

If you've been paying attention, you know that this little blog focuses on Florida nature and rural life, just like the little masthead thingie says. However, you may have also noticed that occasionally, ...really not that often, I will go off on some nonnature, nonrural, nongardening, nonlookwhatbitmenow, nonstupidthingsIhavedone tangent. Today is one of those days. Today's topic is "Judging Other People". I know none of you do that, but I do and it's time to confess.

This may come as a surprise, but here in PureFlorida, we go to these places called "grocery stores" to buy our sustenance. I know, you probably picture FC as growing all of his own food and chasing down the rest like that Last Of The Mohicans guy...(nobody hunts deer by running through the forest by the way)...but I push a grocery cart like the rest of you. I usually go by myself as that keeps the "impulse buying" to a minimum.
It's grocery carts and what people put in them that I can't help judging. This is my confession.

MY NAME IS FC AND I AM A SHOPPING CART JUDGE.

Case #1: Her cart is blocking the cereal aisle and her three young, very overweight boys are filling in what slight gap existed between cart and shelves of sugary cereal. These guys aren't just chubby, they are dangerously overweight.
I try not to, but my eyes wander to the contents of her cart...and the judging begins. It's filled with prepared foods, frozen pizza, soda, cookies, and chips. To her credit, there's a bunch of bananas and a gallon of orange juice. She's very nice and apologizes as she moves the cart to the side, but it's too late...she's been judged.

Verdict: Guilty of buying the wrong stuff... I want to say, "Lady, look at your boys...you are setting them up for a lifetime of health problems." I don't of course, because it's none of my business.

Case #2: I'm behind a mom and daughter...both grown, but mom's probably late 30's, daughter's maybe 18. I am trying not to look at their grocery items and doing a pretty good job of staring at the candy rack, when their conversation draws me in. The daughter is complaining about some encounter in the aisles and she ends with the statement, "...so I told him, excuse me? EXCUSE YOU! I was already ticked off about spending $30 on a carton of cigarettes."
Okay, I'm in...I glance at the groceries they're putting on the checkout belt. Cigarettes, soda, beer, and a huge stack of microwaveable meals. They go on and on about the cost of cigs and everything else. There is not a fresh item in their cart...nothing that would take more prep than setting a timer and pushing a button.

Verdict: Guilty of stupid shopping. The cigs speak for themselves. Expensive self-destructive habit...and it stinks... quit now!(If you don't like that opinion, there are other blogs) For the cost of the mountain of microwave dinners, they could have bought a heck of a lot of fresh food. Food that would be better for them and cost less. Of course, they would have to have to turn on their real stove and learn to use a cutting board and knife.
Again, none of this is any of my business, but I can't help myself.

Case #3: This case is grocery related, but not a pure shopping cart case.I'm in the produce department with a long list of produce to find. Near the fruit, a mom and her little boy are shopping for apples. The little boy is bored. He sees a coconut, picks it up, and says, "Hey Mom, what is this?" She turns and snatches it from his hands, "Put that down! Don't touch anything! Let's go!"

Verdict: Guilty of missing the teachable moment. What if? What if she had said, " That's a coconut honey. Feel the fuzzy covering. Coconuts grow on palm trees." That takes about as much time to say as, "Put that down! Don't touch anything! Let's go!"
To be fair, she may be a great mom who was having a bad day, but grocery judging happens on the spot. From up here on the bench...she blew it.

Case # 4: Remember that "...lest ye be judged" part? I, the supreme grocery cart judge am loading my groceries onto the checkout belt. The older (than me!) lady cashier is pleasant and chatty. In line behind me is another lady waiting to load her cart. I don't know it yet, but I am being judged.
Cashier lady hits the total button and $156.89 pops up. I'm happy, it seems like a lot of good food for the money. The cashier thinks so too. "Wow, you are really a smart shopper, that's a good cart. I wish my husband could do that." I beam.
Then the lady behind me chimes in, "Oh, I was just thinking...look at all that healthy stuff he's buying (she didn't see the Oreo's) . I'm gonna take him home with me."
They chatter back and forth for a minute about the contents of my cart while I write the check.

Verdict: Well, based on the unbiased opinions of two judges, I think we can all agree that I am guilty of smart grocery shopping. Who am I to argue with the court's decision?

...It's my blog, you didn't think I was going to be guilty of stupid shopping did ya?





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23 comments:

roger said...

hey, i recognize those people. they shop here too. i refer, rather disdainfully, to chips and tv dinners and "prepared" stuff as extruded food. no wonder we live in a nation of sheep. how can anyone think properly on a diet of crap. childhood obesity and its attendant health problems plague our country. and then a carton of cigs atop a cart full of non-food is icing on the fake cake.

real people eat real food. who are these zombies we see buying more packaging than semi-edible contents?

i don't hold back on the judgement thing either.

what's my favorite extruded food? dark chocolate.

robin andrea said...

The grocery store is really the closest we get to strangers without actually going home with them looking in their cupboards and refrigerator. Pretty scary. I have to confess my fondness for crispy salty crunchy snack foods. There's always a bag of chips or pretzels (I can eat them without choking!) or Pirate's Booty in our cart. I don't even try to hide it under the bags of red peppers or mushrooms.

threecollie said...

I laughed right out loud at this one and the folks in the living room watching the news while we wait to go to graduation asked me if I was losing it or something.
Great post BTW; we all do it, (it is fun after all) just don't admit it. I aways admire the folks who have one little lean meat package, a few raw vegetables and maybe a couple exotic fruits that I don't know the name of in their cart. Figure they have it all under control better than I do.

Floridacracker said...

dpr,
good point on the "more packaging than semi-edible contents" statement. it's really true.
dark chocolate would be mine also.

Robin,
It's hard not to sound "healthier than thou" when I set myself up as judge. When the cart percentage is say, 85% real, healthy food, I have no problem with filling the other 15% with treats.
We're not monks here :)

Floridacracker said...

Threecollie,
Tell the graduate, "WAY TO GO!" from Florida. You must be bursting with pride and happiness.
(glad to know I'm not the only cart judge in the grocery store)

pablo said...

I remember the days of feeding teenagers (and many of their friends)! I remember those grocery bills.

But what I really want to know is if that other lady really did take you home with her.

Floridacracker said...

Pablo,
No, I escaped unharmed ;)

Laura said...

Ohhh, I'm guilty of shopping cart judgement! I don't like the Walmart here, because the parking lot is crowded and dirty and the inside of the store isn't much better. They don't have a grocery store at my local Walmart, however. When we do go there, it's to stock up on supplies and get out as fast as possible!
But it amazes me the type of people we see there. I'm just.... (shaking my head).

Floridacracker said...

Laura,
In our small town, there's a Winn Dixie and Wallyworld for groceries. I didn't have a shot of WD...

It's 40 miles to a Publix.

swamp4me said...

We love fresh food. We buy tons of fruit and vegetables - half the time we have to identify the stuff we are buying so the clerk will know how to ring it up. That's just sad.
I do have to keep an eye on Treebeard in the store. He thinks junk food is obscene and I'm always afraid he is going to confront some young mother who is trying to pacify her child with candy.
Like you, Treebeard is an "uber" shopper. The man is amazing in a grocery store. I just go with him for the exercise - he's the one who chooses items for the cart.

Floridacracker said...

Swampy,
It's the hunter/gatherer gene.

Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

It has gotten to the point that many people can't even identify unprocessed foods when they see them. Why else do we need to put labels on lemons, for instance?

Last year, at Wallyworld, when the young checker came across my green cabbage she asked me, "what is this?" "That is a cabbage," I replied. As she scanned her laminated produce list she then asked, "how do you spell that?"

The next item on the belt was a red cabbage, as I planned to make cole slaw to go with my BBQ pork sandwiches. When the checker picked it up she looked at it, then asked me "what is this?" After I told her that it was another type of cabbage, just a different color, she proceeded to ask, "how do you spell that?"

Oh well, we don't need to know anything about our foods anymore, as McDonalds and their ilk have it all under control.

Hurricane Teen said...

Great post FC! I am a bagger at the local Publix and I have to say that I am guilty of shopping cart judging also! Obesity is out of control in this country, and it really hurts to see 5-year-olds that weigh more than I do...and I'm really not exaggerating here, I see them all the time.

edifice rex said...

Oh, not only do I shopping cart judge, I rag the crap out of the guys at work when they bring alot of processed food for lunch. You can imagine what a bunch of construction workers will eat; crackers in neon colors, processed meat, tons of soda. On my current job I've been grossing them out by eating sushi in front of them. I will bring fruit to share with them and some of them actually will try to make better choices after I aggravate them enough.

kathy a said...

we aren't exactly monks here at chez nous, either, but we aim for balance and try to avoid [or limit] the sugar/salt/fat traps of processed foods. our supreme judging challenge came recently when a relative moved in with her 5-year-old son....

she did no cooking or shopping over the several weeks she was here, but brought "essential" food from the home she left, all in warehouse-sized boxes: frozen taquitos; "go-gurt," which is 2.5 oz. of sugary yogurt in a tube; the kind of fruity drink boxes that are 10% fruit and 80% sugar; and an assortment cookies and crackers.

except for fast food, these items are all she fed her son over the weeks they were here -- i fear they are the mainstays of his diet now. fortunately, we did cook and fed them real food.

after seeing the lunch she packed one day [gogurt, fruity drink, crackers, and cookies -- and for the morning "fresh fruit snack" required in his classroom, fig newtons], i made sure to pack his lunches.

(she got upset one day because she thought the carrots i packed had stained his lunchbox. it was probably spaghetti sauce, actually. the stain so upset her that she bought a new lunchbox. i just don't think concepts like protein, fruits, veggies, low sugar, limit the carbs, etc. even register. decent nutrition vs. perfect interior of the lunchbox -- very hard for me to go with the latter.)

Deb said...

The Hermit definitely has that hunter-gatherer gene too; he does the big grocery shopping trips, while I pick up stuff from the local family-owned grocery store in town or the organic food store occasionally. He made my day yesterday by stopping at the new, first Trader Joe's in Minnesota on his way home from the airport.

It does amaze me what people put into their carts; we have been trying to eat lower on the processing chain, and ingredient lists either scare me or gross me out. But my big weakness is frozen pizza...have not found a way around it yet...

Mrs. S said...

This was probably one of my favorite posts you've written - not only is it well written (as always, why else would I keep coming back?) but it showed that the wonderful and amazing FC really is human.

But don't worry, I'm guilty of the same thing, I just didn't know what it was called. I could regale you with grocery store tales, but it's your blog, not mine, so I'll refrain... for now.

Floridacracker said...

Hal,
If "you are what you eat", no wonder that young cashier had mush for brains.

Hurricane,
Good point! You are probably the expert in this area. I see way too many students who are already committed to a life of obesity. It doesn't get any easier as you get older.

Edifice,
I do the same sort of stuff. "No thanks, I've got a banana" when the ever present candy is offered in a meeting...that kind of stuff. Modeling the behavior, but not being a zealot is my plan. What's funny is I get razzed for being slender by my heavier colleagues.
Keep up the good work, you may save a life :)

Kathy a,
Good for you for injecting nutritional sanity into that kid's life. In that example the mom was making the mistakes. A lot of the kids I work with have such absentee parenting that they choose their own foods. You can imagine what that menu is like.

Deb,
We all have our red light foods, mine is fried chicken...usually from a take out place. I think processed foods have a place as they were originally intended...a convenience food for those times when you couldn't (for whatever reason) cook real food. The problem today is they have become a mainstay.

Mrs. S,
Thanks. The floor is open so feel free to share your grocery tales...

Wayne said...

Love Robin's comment.

I so hate shopping that I'm primarily fixated on getting in and getting out. No time to look at what other people are buying. I've been told before that I have the wrong attitude, but it remains okra to me.

My shameful under-the-tomatoes-and-peppers confession, as the Bums know since I once ate a whole bag in front of them: Doritos.

rick said...

write the check oh I forgot the debit card has not reached the sticks yet hahahahaha

Floridacracker said...

Wayne,
I have done that too. What is it about Dorito's?

Rick,
We were just wondering where you were. Mrs. FC and I were talking about you last night.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

I'm guilty of NOT shopping very much. I used to be addicted to Wal-Mart going there once or twice a day and then my son was in an automobile accident and I kicked the habit.
Now we have extra money and my husband does the shopping, when needed.

I spent all afternoon Saturday people watching (actually judging)as I waited for my turn signals and brake lights to be mounted on my bike.
Your post was very funny and I thought I was the only person who secretly did that too at the grocery store.

Leslie said...

I'm more likely to be embarrassed by my own purchases than to judge someone else's. I try to hide the sweets and chips beneath the broccoli.

Coconuts also have endearing little faces. You left that part out!