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Letter #186: Insightful Grocery Shopping

April 4, 2011

Dear grocery store,

I really can’t decide if I love or hate you. Part of me loves the challenge of spending the least amount of money possible, then I get to the register and spend way more than hoped every time. I love the process of piecing together ingredients for some new recipe I’m trying, then I get to the canned food aisle and want to chuck a couple ‘Big Daddy’ style due to the frustration of the amount of choices. Seriously, how many different types of tomato sauces can there be? I love never knowing who I’ll run into while shopping, then hate that I get to the register and if I chose Wal-Mart that week four registers are open for all 150 customers I just perused the aisles with. At least I can catch up on my celeb gossip while waiting…the Bachelor couple didn’t work out again…shocking, Charlie Sheen’s still crazy and Justin Timberlake’s a player. I’ll take a shorter line please!

Somehow, you’ve become a venue of hilarity and insight in my life. Desperately hoping Mama Roth answers her phone basically every time I visit you because I can’t figure something out on my list. Taking Houston kiddos with me is always a treat and adventure. And at the top of the list: Being hit on and realizing you could be a dating venue…this isn’t a joke, read about it here.

Today, my insight about you lies with the 16 different options of noodles to choose from while shopping. Choices. We want them. We want to be unique. I don’t want to drive the same car as everyone else, and I sure don’t want the same haircut or outfit. These are valid forms of individuality. Expressing ourselves is great, and I’m all about it. However, I could care less if I eat the same food as every other person in the world. I’m not sure I need millions of choices in order to express my personality via my consumption.

Sure, I don’t want to eat the same meal every single day. I definitely want variety. But, if I want to eat corn, let me choose between fresh, canned and frozen rather than making that decision on top of five more. Once I decide canned, I then price check, think through the health benefits and finally have to consider the brand. I’d like to know that no matter what brand I buy, I’m getting the best quality corn. I’d like to know there aren’t pesticides and fertilizers in my corn soufflé.

I know, I know, this would create no competition, which would affect the supply and demand and bunch of other economic junk I don’t fully grasp, but I often wonder if we just complicate the dickens out of things. If there wasn’t competition, I’d venture to guess the farming industry would do things right more often than they are now. Maybe a little less growth hormone and steroids would be inserted in our cattle? I could be way off base, but this is how my mind works. For some reason, you’ve become a facilitator of brilliant and erroneous thoughts…you decide which 🙂

Love hating the grocery store,

Economist in the making

{photo attribution}

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