Saturday, March 10, 2007

Grocery Store Field Trips

It is a bit rare for me to have to go to the grocery store and not have to get home right away. So today, Saturday, when we wanted to buy a Sunday paper and some Swiss cheese, I decided to make a field trip of it. It's like going to the zoo. More on that in a minute.

Before we get into any of that, let me say a few things. We generally try to avoid driving on Saturdays, due to what I refer to as "working mom" traffic. Although we live in the suburbs, we live in developing and expanding suburbs, and our subdivision is located near some busy roads. I posit that if there weren't so many working moms out there, there wouldn't be such immense traffic volume. Exceptions made for traditionally man-places like Home Depot and the like. Not that I blame them...if we were a two income couple, I'd never want to do errands on weekdays if I had to go home and cook dinner and then clean up. Hat's off to the two income couples. We don't know how you do it. Additional hat off (and gawking wide eyes) if you enjoy being busy so much.

Luckily, we have a Publix within walking distance of our house. So in addition to avoiding working mom traffic, we got some exercise and Vitamin D from being out in sunlight. I wanted to see some of the convenience food items that Publix sold. I'd heard some rumors among the blogs, and I wanted to see with my own eyes. I also wanted to check out the health contents of these things.

We did see some of the pre-packaged hot dogs in buns. They were part of one of those Lunchable-like packages. When you combined all the "food" items, the list of ingredients spanned the height of the package. The worst place was the baked goods aisle. Did you know they actually sell pre-shaped cookie dough now? As in, open the package and put them on the pan, no shaping necessary. This makes no sense to me. If you are busy busy busy and don't have time to make your own cookies, why not just buy Chips Ahoy? If you don't care at all about unhealthy food and don't have time, it really doesn't make sense for you to waste more time baking the pre-shaped cookies in the oven. You'd save that much time (and space in the dishwasher) if you just bought the ready-to-eat kind. The wife says it's because people want to pretend like they really are baking. And I suppose there is some sort of taste value to cookies fresh out of the oven. They do taste different, even if the dough is pre-made. Oh, they also had pre-stacked microwaveable pancakes. That's a new one.

It was a bit embarrassing to pick up the convenience items. I thought people might think that we actually buy those sorts of things. I made sure to very conspicuously gawk at the ingredient list, lest people be fooled.

When you go to the zoo, do you go in order to see the local wildlife? Do you go to the zoo to look at fire ants and common household spiders? You must admit that you do not go to the zoo really REALLY looking forward to the raccoons and rabbits. No, of course not...you go to the zoo because you want to see animals that you don't normally see. Things like lions, tigers, polar bears, and cassowaries and whatnot. So in a way, my going to the grocery store is like going to the zoo, because we have none of the extreme-convenience items. I'm not used to seeing such items around my house. Seeing those things and reading the ingredient list is my food equivalent of seeing exotic animals at the zoo. And when we have kids, we'll make sure they don't get too close to neither the lions nor the convenience foods, probably enforcing the latter the strongest. After all, if you're an average person living in the U.S., you are much higher risk to suffer an early death from trans-fats than from a random chimpanzee attack (chimps can be absolutely vicious, BTW).

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