I love grocery shopping. Now that we have Trader Joe's, I love it even more. When I have both boys during the witching hour because we need some must-have-can't- wait item, I don't love it so much. The grocery store is a market researcher's dream. I conduct consumer research and gather insights for a living, so I can't help but notice shopper behavior when I am one among them. We label readers often exchange a knowing nod of camaraderie.
Even before I went to graduate school and learned about EDLP, end caps, Catalina couponing, and the sort, I have been fascinated by others' grocery carts. I never knew all those years that "basket data" was even such a thing. I often think what Harris Teeter's database must say about me. You can extrapolate an awful lot from what adds up on your receipt. When I have a particularly odd assortment of goods in my cart I chuckle at what this might reveal. I'm a geek that way.
My data might indicate that I'm a mother who has a penchant for Fat Tire and cheap red wine. The data crunchers must also know that I drink red wine in fall, but come the summer solstice, I'm chilling out with white. Surely it's clear I'm a natural food junkie, home cook, wannabe greenie. They know I don't fall for gimmicks or coupons and that my grocery cart is mostly full of fresh foods and very little in a box, can, pouch, or bag.
I, fully admitting to being a food snob (not of the truffle and sweet breads variety, more of the fresh, healthy food variety), am astounded at what people buy. I am more amazed at what people feed their kids. Pardon me while I drag out my soapbox.
I was getting my sons some popcorn and a mango smoothie to split for a little treat at a certain establishment that starts with Tar and ends with Jhay. The kids in front of us were getting Cheetos and soda. One of those kids was in diapers. This reminded me of a kid in my son's daycare who had Pepsi in his sippy cup every morning. Bird was only in day care for a short while. He was about 15 months old during the Pepsi episode. At a park the other day, my friend's kids offered my sons a snack. Slim Jims and the fake cheese that comes with crackers and a red plastic spreader stick. My sons didn't even hesitate to say no, without having to look at me longingly for approval. We talk about high fructose corn syrup, sugar and preservatives. They know how to make healthy choices and have grown into wonderful little eaters.
That's not to say we don't have treats and indulge in the likes of root beer floats and cupcakes. We nosh on nachos and scarf down sweet potato chips. But we also eat three squares and five colors a day. What we feed our kids (and ourselves) counts. A lot. And it all starts in the grocery cart.
Ilina writes about food and anything that's related to it here on Go Ask Mom every Wednesday. You can always find her on her own blog, Dirt & Noise.