I have a guilty pleasure. It’s looking at what other people are putting into their shopping trolleys in the supermarket. You can tell a lot about a person from the choices they make. Since being in America, I have taken this to a whole new level. My new pleasure, completely guilt free, is not supermarket trolleys but the shelves, chillers and freezers of the store itself. You can tell a lot about a nation from the food they are fed.
I’ve become a supermarket lurker. I take items off shelves and put them back and I take photographs. Sometimes I even carry a basket so I look semi legitimate. I know it looks odd but when people realise that I’m not from round here (as soon as I open my mouth) they forgive me. I think.
So there I was, 3 days after Christmas in the supermarket, experiencing sensory overload and feeling overwhelmed when I heard, “There’s nothing in here. People have come in here in the last couple of weeks and bought everything up.” It’s all a matter of perspective I guess.
The choices are bewildering . Need cheese? You can have it shredded (finely or not), cubed, stringed, sticked, spreadable, in slabs or in a can. There are as many varieties of almond milk as there are of cow’s milk (with or without lactose) and there’s milk from cashews, macadamias, walnuts and pistachios.
The baddies are there in all their colourful, preservative laden splendour but there is also the greatest selection of organic products I’ve ever seen outside a farmer’s market. I felt healthy just looking at the fruits and vegetables which was just as well because I’d spent a long time staring at the extensive range of Reece’s products. For someone with a soft spot for peanut butter cups it was a revelation. Frozen chocolate peanut butter mouse cake anyone? How about Reece’s breakfast cereal?
It was good to see organic alternatives for almost every canned, bottled or bagged product competing with familiar brands and at a competitive price too. There is no excuse people.
I liked the simple and visible (i.e BIG font size) nutritional information on the packaging. I can’t get used to calling minced beef ground beef but I love that it is clearly labelled with the percentage of lean and fat. The range of convenience foods was mindblowing – pre boiled eggs, seriously? – but some conveniences really did seem like a good idea. Chilled cookie dough in a tin may not be breaking news but to this Kiwi it is inspired. I loved the in-store pharmacy and the range of over-the-counter medicines. Looking for a hair product lost me at least 45 minutes. Usually faced with no choice at all, there were shelves of products that promised natural, tousled, bouncy, touchable, tamed , defined, perfect curls and all without a hint of frizz. I took photos of them all.
I’m running out of milk – cow’s, no fat – so my supermarket adventure will continue soon but here is the good, the bad and the ugly from my experiences so far.
And the ugly.
Categories: An American Adventure