A Matter of Taste

The fact that the employees at my local grocery store pretty much know me by name is no secret. Along with multiple stops during the week for myself, I also do the grocery shopping for my mom (she hates it) and for my uncle (he’s physically unable.)

I don’t mind it, so I do it.

Grocery shopping for someone else is entirely different than grocery shopping for myself. Considering I’m not going to actually eat any of the items I’m purchasing, I’ll admit that I’m much less particular. A banana is a banana and an apple is an apple.

When I’m shopping for myself, I morph back into that delightful (annoying) person who carefully selects the best green beans out of the bin one by one and performs a full body of scan of a potential potato purchase with the intensity of a DNA expert on CSI.

Given the amount of produce that I eat in a week, I consider it necessary to ensure that the money I spend is going towards quality stuff. I will NOT be satisfied with limp beans, people. I will not!

Once my purchases are home, I am vigilant about washing the items before they wind up in my mouth (or on my shirt first, in all likelihood.) I’m not a freak about it, but I’ve witnessed people sneezing on open produce and little kids licking a vegetable and putting it back more times than I’m comfortable with.

That’s why a recent trip to the store has prompted this long-winded post.

First I was cruising through the aisles in pursuit of the two containers of overpriced pineapple my uncle has me buy every week when a middle-aged man walked by the green bean bin, grabbed a handful, started chomping down like a small woodland creature and continued to walk through the store.

What the hell?

Who walks by a bin of green beans and treats it like a buffet with no regard to the fact that a) it’s technically stealing and b) it’s technically gross (see above for snot and saliva encounters, which in this case, serves the dude right.)

Brushing it off, I wheeled my cart towards the grapes and spent 42 minutes trying to open the plastic produce bag before being joined by an elderly lady. From her lowered position on a Hoveround, she began popping grapes in her mouth from a number of bags with the dexterity of a Wack-A-Mole champ.

At this time, please see the paragraph above under “What the hell?” replacing “beans” with “grapes.”

Noticing that I was simply grabbing a bag of grapes without much fruity fanfare, she went on to lecture me about how I was wasting my money by not tasting each batch. She had been “scorned in the past” and was forced to throw out a batch of (literal) sour grapes, and now appeared determined to help others avoid a similar fate.

I politely told her that I was fine and that I would “buy on blind faith.”

Looking at me as if I had two heads—neither one of which was being supplied with green grapes—she went on to warn me of the perils of my decision. At that point I told her I wasn’t shopping for me, but for my uncle, and gestured to the denture cleaner and Right Guard deodorant spray.

Still skeptical, she was either full or thought I was full of it, because she shrugged her shoulders, popped another grape and left me with, “Well, suit yourself.”

As she turned and left in a motorized huff, I couldn’t help but notice that her basket contained no grapes. I guess there’s truly no accounting for taste.

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20 responses to “A Matter of Taste

  1. If everyone tasted a grape from every bag before they bought one, there would be no grapes to buy. This is very simple stuff.

  2. In Morocco the produce was covered in dirt to validate it’s freshness. Most of it was organic, as evidenced by the bugs on it and the need for bug zappers directly above the peppers, which meant fly carcasses frequently added protein to your meal. Even so, it would be easier to be vegan there, because the eggs were covered in dried chicken shit with feathers stuck on that shit.

  3. I don’t know–I’ve had way too many tasteless grapes and woody, nasty green beans. Though I must say I don’t use the grocery store as a snacking bin!

  4. I’m with you! I have to wash my fruits and vegetables before I eat them. Plus, after pushing around a grocery store cart, which has been handled by umpteen million people who may or may not have washed their hands, I prefer to wait until I’m home with clean fingers before making a snack.

    I had a similar experience to you the last time I was at the store. I was getting a couple of scoops of millet from the bulk bins when an old lady used the opportunity of me blocking her from view of the staff to reach her hand into the pretzel bins and stuff a couple into her mouth. I had to gasp. I mean, if she’s going to steal from the bulk bins, I wish she would have at least used the provided scoop! After all, no one is going to wash their pretzels before they eat them. With cheeks full of pretzels, she chomped away as she walked to the next aisle. I saw someone else do that once at the olive bar too… So gross!

    • That story is hilarious, and kind of makes me glad we DON’T have bulk bins around here. No, no it doesn’t. I would love to buy bulk grains. Anyway, I agree that if you’re going to loot and pillage, one should use the provided scoop. It’s only polite.

  5. They’re the people who cause the prices to go up…stores have to make up the loss and we all pay for them.

  6. hmmm. there is a lady at the grocery store I visit most, and I have seen her more than once doing the same thing. well, no, not even the same thing. she walks around with an empty cart, with her … handbag in the kid seat up front. one time, I saw her filling up those little sample cups for soup – she had one of each soup lined up there next to her bag, to enjoy as she walked around.

    another time, I saw her eating a mandarin orange, stashing the peel in her bag. there were several in her cart, and I’m sure they were all consumed prior to purchasing, because I saw her later and they were gone. this lady looks like she may be among the large homeless population Portland seems to welcome, so there’s that…. yet I have mixed feelings because yep, as Eva points out, these are the people who make my produce so expensive.

    that very same store DOES have employees walking around with candy bars from time to time – and they offer bites to the shoppers. chocolate while I shop for my ever rising produce? yespleaseandthankyou.

  7. also, that is very kind of you to shop for your relatives. when Dad was eating (he is currently back on feeding tube – well, he is currently in the hospital so no groceries, but anyway…) I shopped and cooked for him. I always did this separate from my own shopping, and I must confuse the heck out of the store – my shopping is 90% produce and bulk, and my dad always wanted meat (*sigh* yes I cooked it for him) and everything opposite of what I eat. crazy pants. :)

    • Exactly! I used to shop for my grandma for years as well. Whether it’s for my mom, my uncle or my grandma, it’s always a separate trip for myself. Needless to say, the first few times I came through the checkout with Depends, menopause medicine, liver and onions after always going through with produce, I got a few looks. After awhile everyone started asking how my grandma was doing ;)

      If I could, I would shop for people for a living. I love it! Very OCD of me.

  8. Yet another reason I enjoy growing my own veggies when I can. There’s nothing quite like picking your own fresh tomatoes, broccoli and berries.

    • Agreed! That’s why I hate being in Michigan–we only get fresh veggies like that for about four or five months of the year. Sigh…

  9. I’ve never eaten food in the grocery store because that would be stealing. I have supplied one of my toddlers with 5 slices of bologna at the start of the trip so the cashier could scan the empty bag at the end. The other preferred to chomp on my keys.

  10. I HATE FOOD SHOPPING. If you would come shop for me as well, I’ll keep you in asparagus the rest of your life.

  11. I like grocery shopping, but only do it for my partner and I. I’ve never seen people behaving like that in shops! Normally they’re just rude/run me over with a trolley. I can’t understand the mentality – it just feels too much like stealing even if you are planning on paying for it.

  12. I am the exact same way in a grocery store. If I’m paying for something, I need it to be perfect. I’m probably most anal with expiry dates, because I remember that, back when I worked in a grocery store in high school, we would always be told to put the items with the shortest expiry dates in the front. Now I’m the girl who’s literally on top of the refrigerator, trying to reach back allll the way to the back for the freshest carton of milk. I will literally check every batch of ground turkey before I select the freshest one. It takes forever, and I look like a weirdo, but again, it’s my money.

  13. First of all, can I hire YOU to do my grocery shopping too? I seriously LOATHE being in ANY store!

    Also, as usual you totally crack me up, Abby.

    What is the deal with all of those people eating/stealing food from the produce section? I would be sofa king grossed out if I ever saw that.

  14. I don’t trust people in those electrical gadgets. You know how sometimes you keep crossing the same people as they come down the lane in the opposite direction?

    I once happened to come upon the same little old woman in one of those things in every single aisle, she would point stuff out for me to reach out and place in her cart. Sometimes she would have me return a dented can for a better one. I would laugh, and smile and ask her if she wanted anything else. This lasted for nearly an hour and I felt so good about myself. Only later… well, she returned that little scooter gadget, and walked to her car with her purchases. She was just being LAZY!!!!

    Yeah. Little old women in those scooters steal grapes and abuse gullible people like me! Muwah!

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