Hey Grocery Store, You Did Something Right

18 Nov

I was looking at frozen vegetables today at the Albertson’s I shop at, and they weren’t where they were supposed to be. The whole chain, or the part of it this store belongs to, is under new management and many things are different. The whole store has been reset to some extent and the frozen vegetables weren’t under the vegetables sign anymore.

I looked around and found them. The organic frozen vegetables are gone, in fact the organic frozen everything is gone. There is now, however, a tiny section of organic fresh produce in the produce case. There used to be odds and ends here and there, now it’s all in its own little ghetto.

I don’t really blame them. If something doesn’t sell, you devote the space to something that does.This is how grocery stores work. They can’t work differently inside a culture that insists this is how commerce must work.

But to dig a little deeper, what is the point of buying organic frozen dinners and vegetables? What exactly are people paying for, there? If we are really concerned about life, why are we subsidizing all this driving around and storing of frozen goods? If we are really concerned about buying organic, why do we passively accept commercial labels from corporations we will never meet? Who is really getting served here?

I got to talking to one of the cashiers, who has been working there as long as I have lived here, and shopped there, about sixteen years. She told me the new management was concerned about providing more healthy food. Hah! you may say, what hypocrites. But actually, there have been some great produce deals since they took over. I haven’t seen these prices there in years. Oranges and apples for 75 cents a pound, little avocados two for a dollar. Potatoes. Green beans. Big price cuts. 

Sure, it’s just good management. Loss leaders pull people in, good produce deals brings people in, and overpriced produce mostly winds up in the trash, being fought over by trashpickers. Or else there is the endless hassle about what to do with it if you don’t want it trashpicked, and that is complicated, as is everything grocery, involving expired perishables.

So what we got here is cheaper fresh produce, which will bring in anyone who think fresh produce is a good thing to have, and a few people who will have more limited options as to buying organic anything. What matters most? Who is getting hurt here? 

I have been wondering lately about the whole organic food labeling act and whether the whole thing wasn’t a bad idea. Why put the onus of labeling on those who do not poison the food? Why turn it into an elitist enterprise? Whenever there is money to be made, guess who takes over?

Why create your own overpriced little ghetto, why enable this creation? We thought this would be a solution, twenty-five years ago. We were wrong. The solution lies in outlawing toxic chemicals.

I have no sophisticated answers here, just some questions. But I do think it’s a good thing that people here can buy a lot of kinds of fresh produce for less money at friggin’ Albertson’s. That’s a step in the right direction.

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