Sigh. The long weekend is over and it’s time to work again. I don’t really feel like it, though, so let me tell you a story.
For reasons too boring to get into, yesterday I ended up in a grocery store — a QFC, part of Kroger’s empire — for a few things. I haven’t been to what I’d guess you call an “ordinary” grocery store for quite a while.
It started when I couldn’t find organic grapes. Then no organic green beans. Then I tried to find some shampoo for my kids and the only choices were garishly designed bottles with cartoon characters on them and god knows what in them. Then the meat counter …
It all added up. I was overtaken by the feeling that I was basically surrounded by poisons. I eventually just dropped my half-full basket, walked out, and drove to a Whole Foods.
Yes, my life is a parody of West Coast elitism.
Strictly speaking, what I did was irrational. QFC has plenty of green specialty products, and you can always poke around and read ingredient lists to find healthy stuff. And let’s face it, probably half the money I spend on “green” products — which are much more expensive — is wasted on clever package design or environmental benefits too infinitesimal to matter. Hell, the gas I used getting to the store probably had more impact than the differences between brands at the store.
But still. I don’t want to play sleuth. It takes too much energy and attention. I want the place I shop to do that sleuthing for me. I want to shop at a place where my values are the norm, so I don’t have to worry about high-fructose corn syrup around every corner. As a consumer, I have long since made the shift from thinking of healthy, simple, carefully sourced products as a luxury to thinking of them as a baseline. I can’t go back to what our culture currently thinks of as normal.
What I’m wondering is, when will the mass grocery shopping public make the same shift? Things certainly seem to be heading that way, but as I discovered yesterday, not quite as much as you might like. The process needs to hurry up, lest my snobbery confine me to a few small neighborhoods in Seattle, like some sort of cultural invalid.