What does a Food Basics kind of guy do when standing in line at a grocery store checkout counter and the shopper in front has an unbelievable amount of packaged food to be scanned? Many people check their smart phones or send texts messages, but I do neither as I don’t have a cell phone or a smart phone. I stare in front of me and sometimes I’m amused by what people buy, and by the quantities.
I was at a Metro store with a few items in my shopping cart and saw a short lineup at the cash register so I wheeled my cart behind an elderly bent-over woman. When she pulled up to the cashier, the cashier came around to her cart and pulled out three burlap bags all half filled with cans of cat food. The two obviously knew each other. The elderly woman must have bought every cat food can in the store because I noticed a few different brands. I guessed there were at least 50 cans in each bag. How environmentally unfriendly! She could easily have spent far less and bought her cats some beef or ham cuts. But then her felines are probably spoiled and won’t eat real meat.
At a No-Frills store checkout counter, the neatly dressed middle age couple in front of me had their shopping cart crammed over the top. The woman had numerous competition grocery store flyers with her and as she put items on the counter she would show the clerk the price in the flyer and she’d get that price. It certainly slowed things down but the clerk was very professional about it. I would have rolled my eyes. The woman’s husband (or hubby) stood by and didn’t help in any way and didn’t grin or grimace. When all the items had gone through the woman noticed she’d missed a few more bargains and with the store flyers in hand, the clerk reduced a few more items. No problem. No discussion. I was sure she would pay with a debit card or something to also get points or air miles, but she paid with cash, which surprised me even more.
I try to make my life as simple and as easy as possible. So I shop for groceries once a week on a week day and go early in the morning just after the stores open. There are no long lineups and I’m in and out of the store in no time. And since I’m a food basics kind of a guy, I shop mostly in the outside perimeters of the store. That’s where the fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, bread and dairy products are. Fresh foods are much healthier than the processed foods you’ll find in the centre aisles. Many foods in the centre aisles contain preservatives. Preservatives are chemicals or additives in food that keep them shelf stable and allow them to last longer.
Occasionally, I’ll pick up a few grocery items on a Sunday. The store parking lot is always packed with vehicles. Young couples and young families tend to shop on weekends. So when I walked into a Walmart store on a recent Sunday I saw shoppers with their huge carts filled over the top. I picked up a small beef roast, a bag of milk and some fruit and headed to the checkout. I was certainly in the minority as all the shoppers in the line ups had full carts. As luck would have it I found a cashier with only one shopper in line so I swung my near empty cart behind a young couple. The man held a covered crib basket that obviously held a small sleeping child while his wife, or partner, unloaded a massive amount of small packaged items and small containers. I didn’t recognize anything except ready-to-eat pudding in small plastic cups and a box of bobby pins.
The way the checkout counters are staggered in that store, I could clearly see what the shopper one over from me was unloading during my 10-minute wait in line. She was a spandex-clad sporty woman in her 30s who probably goes jogging or bicycling or works out at a gym. She, too, had a cart full of packaged items I couldn’t identify. I didn’t see anything from the fresh food section, which was surprising. All that packaged stuff. Yikes!
I’m not saying young couples don’t buy fresh produce but I do know that there’s far too much packaged and processed food being bought.
Maynard van der Galien doesn’t buy many vegetables when they’re expensive in the winter but will go to his freezer for his garden produce. This month he’ll make applesauce from a bushel of apples.