Fearmongering Makes it Hard to Shop

With so many fearmongers about, it's getting difficult to shop.

By Diane Toops, News and Trends Editor

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I finished my trusty shopping list, which I happily ignore most of the time, and headed to the supermarket in a great mood. There's nothing that gives a foodie more of a high than scanning the aisles for new options among the 35,000 SKUs.

Heading first to the meat case, I reached in for a scrumptious-looking porterhouse steak when a woman yelled at me for encouraging the slaughter of what she referred to as a sweet cow. "You should be ashamed of yourself," she said, her voiced raised in indignation. Not wanting to make a scene, I waited until she disappeared and scurried over to the chicken section. Hmmm, a nice whole roasted chicken with fresh tarragon covered with Grey Poupon mustard sounded comforting after all that abuse, I thought, along with some mashed potatoes, carrots and ...

"Stop," said a man. "Don't you know there's an epidemic of bird flu overseas and it could be coming to the U.S. infecting all our chickens and eggs?" Why me, I wondered, as he moved to the next consumer.

I decided to try some seafood and reached in the case for a lobster. After all, scientists at the University of Oslo, funded by the Norwegian government, concluded recently that lobsters and crabs have some capacity to learn, but it is unlikely they can feel pain (when they are boiled alive). Then again, perhaps a salmon steak might be more politically correct since it's already processed. But a young girl scurried over to say confidentially, "Don't eat fish, there are heavy metals in the older ones; you won't be able to reproduce."

Since I'm an empty nester, that wasn't a problem for me. But rather than argue, I decided to make a nice pasta dinner. Trying to decide among spaghetti, vermicelli, mostaccioli, angel hair or shells took too long. A determined, well-dressed executive looked at me in disgust. "Are you crazy, all those carbs are going to make you fat, and so is that crusty loaf of bread and Parmigiano Reggiano in your cart." He walked away with my dinner and put it back on the shelf.

OK, there's no time like the present to get my newly recommended nine to 13 fruits and vegetables, and no one is going to bother me in the vegetable aisle, I figured. "Lady, those carrots scream in pain when they are picked," said a young man holding a stack of flyers. "Don't you have any compassion?" Moving away, I spotted a succulent peach and almost reached it when the same young man exclaimed, "Insecticides and herbicides, lady; forget it!"

Well, I won't hurt anything with a TV dinner, I thought as I read the label. I can even avoid all those trans fats that everyone is talking about. "Better watch your salt content," confided a mom as she removed the chip bag from her toddler's hands causing him to scream and jump up and down on my foot. Hmmm, maybe her child would like some BSE-infused milk or some GMO-laden soy drink, I thought unkindly.

Grinding my coffee beans, I avoided that box of sugar nearby; it will contribute to my obesity, according to the local newspaper. To be on the safe side, forget the sugar substitute because it was made by chemists. Grabbing a dark chocolate bar for a healthy antioxidant dessert seemed safe, but an elderly lady accosted me and slapped my hand. "Don't you know children are slaving away in the cacao bean fields?"

At this point, I realized it was time to go home and rethink my strategy. Leaving the store depressed and empty-handed, I realized that I could now eliminate my Body Mass Index obesity issues, along with every athlete in the country, by eating nothing. Then, happily my gray cells came to the rescue; it's time to call Peapod, or better yet I'll come back after midnight. After all, tomorrow is another day.

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