Grocery Shop – It’s A Steal

I’m generally in my own world at the grocery store. List in hand, I am mentally preparing menus and figuring store-brand savings over major-brand-with-coupon savings. A couple of months ago, however, I was particularly alert and aware of my surroundings.

In the produce section, the strawberry sale caught my attention. I parked my cart to the side so as not to block other shoppers from the display. The berries are pre-packaged, so my method of berry choosing is to first look for berry boxes that are packed full. Next, I compare the berries in the full boxes and choose the reddest, ripest, most beautiful berries. Even with all the care put into choosing the pre-packaged boxes, it’s been my experience that the top layer is always the most appealing. The berries that are hidden below the beautiful top layer are generally only partially ripe and quite sour.

I’m not sure what goes on at the first of the month, but whatever it is, it drives the senior citizens out in droves to shop for groceries … or whatever. While still in the strawberry section, my berry selection method was put to the test and found wanting. I found myself sandwiched between two serious senior shoppers who are now dumping the pre-packaged berry boxes and using one of the empty containers to select the very best berries from the berries they’ve dumped and really packing them in tight. How can this be? Isn’t it against the law, or at least against store policy to dump pre-packaged, pre-selected produce and take the very best for yourself? I’m not sure about this … it seems like cheating, but then, I feel cheated when I get home and find all the knobby, sour, barely pink excuses for berries hidden beneath the top layer. Hmm.

I’m one of those shoppers who will open a bag of cookies and partake as I’m shopping, or I’ll open a chilled, single serving beverage and drink it in the store. The same price is scanned whether the package is full or empty. I am taken aback, however, when I see people taste test the produce; ripping a few grapes off a vine, or grabbing a handful of nuts or candy from the bulk bins and popping it into your mouth seems like stealing. Sure, it’s only a few grapes or a small handful of nuts or candy, but multiply that by hundreds of people and that equates to many pounds of unpaid for food.  Not to mention contamination. There really isn’t a way to wash salted nuts or bulk candy without ruining it.

I don’t know what caused me to be so attentive on this particular day, but I believe I’ll go back to being in my own little grocery-shopping zone; it’s much less distracting … and when I’m in the zone at the store, once I get home, I find that my produce is much more appealing as well.

Wrong Hands

Cartoons by John Atkinson. ©John Atkinson, Wrong Hands

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