Modern grocery stores cause shopping conundrums

By: Guest Columnist

 | Mar 14, 2012 - 10:05 AM |

After breakfast one morning I realized that I needed some groceries. So I went off to the store — with my recyclable bags, of course.

Let’s see now, I need some tomatoes. When I arrive at the counter where the tomatoes are displayed, multiple decisions challenge me. There are so many different kinds.

Do I want plum tomatoes, tiny grape tomatoes, large beefsteaks, even yellow tomatoes. Yellow? Apparently they taste like the tomatoes I’m used to, but I can’t bring myself to choose the yellow ones.

Even more decisions are presented. Do I want hot house tomatoes, tomatoes ripened on the vine, Ontario tomatoes or those from California or Mexico? Too many choices, too many decisions.

In the early years of my marriage, the choice was simple. I bought red tomatoes for my salad or sandwich. That took only a minute or so. Done.

Apples are next on my list. Again I am faced with many choices. Let’s see now which kind do I like best? “Galas” have been my favourites for a long time, but there are about a dozen other choices.

Maybe I should try the “Macintoshes?”  My mother loved “Golden Delicious,” but I found them to be too bland. The juicy, tart taste of “Granny Smith” apples, were an interesting change from time to time, but only that. Back to pick out the “Galas” to put into my basket afterall.

Further along in the produce aisle, I remembered that I wanted cauliflower for dinner. Unbelievably I was faced with white, green or orange cauliflowers. My father, the greengrocer, must be turning in his grave.

Just traditional white for me, thanks. My head was beginning to spin. Have you seen the purple carrots or radishes?

Throughout the grocery store I was faced with numerous choices of every product. The dreaded cereal aisle was my next destination. The number of alternatives there were mind-boggling. Deciding between corn flakes or oatmeal was not a difficult nor time-consuming choice in the “good old days.”

It was not only all the different kinds of cereal, but so many sizes!  I closed my eyes and reached for my usual Cheerios.

Grocery shopping used to be relatively simple, and not at all a lengthy process, unless of course I ran into a friend and had an enjoyable chat. Now everyone is so busy reading the ingredients on the labels and comparing sizes and prices, that there is little time to socialize for a few minutes.

Also, with so many options for nearly every product, the aisles are necessarily much narrower to accommodate all those selections. This fact does not encourage shoppers to stand and chat, because that means blocking the way for others. They are usually not amused.

So, I get it done and leave quickly with a sense of having been released from the busyness of the store. It is no longer pleasurable to me but just a chore that must be completed as quickly as possible. Oh, for the “good old days.”


Erna de Burger-Fex is a writer and retired teacher.

Posted by Jenny Jelen

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