Monday, December 5, 2011

The Grocery Store

After a not-so-restful first night back in the states, I awoke bright eyed around 3:30am. I tried to get back to sleep, failed, and ultimately turned on the laptop. Thinking that I'd have no chance at wireless during the few days we were living in our old house, I decided to see if there happened to be any open networks in the neighborhood. Luckily, I became the lucky sap freeloading off the other sap in my neighborhood who hadn't taken the time to change his network name (it's always a good sign if you pick up one called "NETGEAR") and was soon driving down a toll-free information superhighway. This kept me entertained for as long as possible before I decided it was time to wake up my wife and partake in my favorite past time. Yep, we went to the grocery store.

Unless you've frequented grocery stores in the developing world for two years that feature different items on different days depending on what's survived the truck ride or been imported lately, you probably aren't aware that there's simply too much choice in American grocery stores. We went with the simple task of picking out something to make for breakfast. We had no idea what we had in store.

I knew I was in trouble when Lindsay made what you would think is a fairly simple request, "go pick out some English muffins," and I found myself staring, slack-jawed, at over a dozen different options. Ninety seconds later, vowing that I was going to eat better, I reached for a whole wheat option.

In the eggs department, there were fewer choices but you still need to consider, large, extra large, or even larger. You also need to consider whether you need cage free eggs or not. After looking at the price, I decided that I did not. In India, there are two choices of eggs. The first is typically in a nondescript egg carton bottom holding six eggs. The second at least has some sort of packaging. In fact, it's one of my favorite packaging slogans. It's for a product called Keggs Eggs, which are touted to be "near organic."

After finding no eggs that were near organic, I approached the orange juice section. No pulp, low pulp, high pulp, country style, calcium-enriched, freshly squeezed, low calorie in more sizes and brands than I knew what to do with. In India there is Tropicana and another brand. It's not refrigerated. It comes in a one liter box. If you're lucky, you can find juice box sized. Needless to say, this decision took some time.

Finally, I stopped at the produce section. The produce section used to be my favorite section. I even had a produce guy before I expatriated. His name was German. My favorite move of German's was to see a huge line at the check-out, see me, call me over, and quickly whisk me into an unopened line. Sure, I'd bag my own groceries to speed up the process, but it's this level of service that made German the greatest employee that Dominick's (my grocery store chain of choice in Chicagoland) ever saw. At any rate, German wasn't there. In fact, the only thing I saw there was aisle after aisle of fruit that looked like it had been injected with God knows what. Quick question, how long should bananas last? The answer? Two days. At least that's how long the puny (yet delicious) varietal sold in India tends to last. Something tells me that's more normal.

Forty-five minutes after entering the store, we triumphantly loaded the car. Exhausted. It was still before 7:00am.


  1. We have this happen to us every time we go back to the States. I have SO many photos of my kids staring at the aisles of stuff with these crazed looks on their faces!!

  2. well thanks for sharing an eye opener blog. was greatly influenced by it.

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