Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Shopping Cart Ethics 2.0

Both these conundrums are from my trip to the grocery store this week. I honestly want to hear what you, gentle readers, think about these issues. I’m torn.

1. When you pull a gallon of milk out of the dairy cooler, do you look for the one with the latest date? I do. I figure I’m the consumer, I’m paying for this milk, I get to choose whichever one I want, even if it means reaching into the back of the milk line-up to get the date furthest away. But I always feel a bit strange, even guilty, about this. I mean, it’s not like we run the risk of ever passing the expiration date, at the rate we go through milk in our house (when Ethan is around we average a gallon a day; when Ethan was gone to scout camp this summer, I only made one trip to the store for milk that week. Spooky!).

I suspect the milk all tastes the same, regardless of the date stamp. Shouldn’t I just pick a milk that has the closest date and leave the newer one for the nice old lady behind me who lives alone and is somewhat lactose intolerant but always keeps a gallon milk in her fridge to serve with cookies when the grandkids visit, which is only once in a while, so the milk tends to get old before it’s all gone, but she’s on a tight social security check budget and won’t be able to buy another one until the day after it expires and even then only if it smells bad? (And yes, this old lady haunts my grocery trips; I worry about her every time. She's probably not even nice.)

2. Grapes were on sale this week. The lady next to me picked a green grape from a bunch and popped it in her mouth. Then she sampled a purple grape. I don’t think I even noted which kind she ended up choosing, surprised as I was with her snacking. I was not audacious enough to follow her lead. I bought some of each just to be safe.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I really do hate it when I bring home a big bag of grapes and they are all disappointingly sour. What a waste. I suppose I could take them back to the store, but who has that kind of time? It seems only fair to be able to know what you’re paying for in advance. Then again, we don’t get to peel the oranges first, so they’re always a gamble. (Same goes for melons; all the thumping and sniffing and navel pressing in the world can’t guarantee a good one). Isn't boldly partaking of the unknown part of the produce department quest? Isn't it kind of cheating to peek?

And more to the ethical point, isn’t it dishonest to eat food you aren’t paying for? If you’re going to be eating the groceries, maybe they should weigh you on your way into the store and again on your way out and make you pay the difference? (You thought airport security was invasive!)

So. Advice anyone? (Please?)


Peggy said...

I'm like you -- I select the mild carton with the newest expiration date! But...we are retired and don't use milk often and frequently have to discard and buy fresh. As for tasting fruit -- YUK! Before it's washed?? I don't think so!

TARA said...

I always go for the farthest date on the milk as well. But then again I can have a half gallon rot in my fridge before I use it all.

As for grapes, I do think that's a bit weird. I wouldn't think of tasting anything else, but somehow it doesn't bother me if someone else does it.

Anonymous said...

What a tender heart you have. I'm probably that little old lady you worry about. Don't. Just think of your own family's needs and let us worry about which milk we buy. We are tougher than you think. As for
"grazing" in the produce department, how un-classy can you get?

NorahS said...

I don't sample the grapes. I do buy the milk with the farthest date.

Unknown said...

Great! - Now every time I search for the best date - I will be worrying about the little old lady I didn't know existed before I read your post.
As for grapes - I actually had someone tell me that eating a grape is technically shoplifting. You are taking something you have no intention of paying for since grapes are sold by the pound. I don't sample grapes - but I do thump, poke and prod (gently) to try to find the best produce.
I also find it amusing that the verification word I have to type in to post this comment is "consumbe" - seems appropriate.

ctrmother said...

I guess my take would be to "weigh" a grape, calculate an approximate cost, and then ask the cashier to add on a few cents at the check-out line. That way everyone is satisfied, if you are inclined to taste up front. But I agree with others... tasting unwashed fruit...? Ewwwww! :)