Grocery Shopping Paths

Above is the usual grocery shopping route of a person on the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.).  The grocery store is laid out to guide the shopper past all their wants and desires:  cases of Coke or Pepsi, canned food, frozen dinners, frozen pizza, crackers, corn and canola oil, sweat cereals, donuts, syrup, sweet baked beans,  and maybe a celebrity magazine as you check out.  “Oh, wait,” the SAD shopper may say while standing in line reading the most recent scandal, “I forgot some hot dogs and marshmallows for the cook out tomorrow” and then leave their cart parked to run back for the final ingredients in their balanced weekly diet.

The above diagram illustrates how much easier my shopping route is than the route of the average S.A.D. shopper.  I zip around the shop’s periphery and I’m done.   See this post illustrating my family’s food habits to understand how such simpler shopping path is possible.

Actually, I exaggerated.  My family’s food supply is a bit more complicated: we buy whole animals for our freezer from 2 0r 3 different local farms, and we get some local vegetables through a community co-op delivered to a neighbor’s home.  We also raise chickens and have vegetable gardens. Best of all (for me), the above happens magically through the industrious and loving hands of my ethnically-Polish farm wife.  I only need to help out occasionally but at those times, I am happy for our short shopping route.

That’s my American food-shopping life.  But for many years shopping was much different for me.  In Kyoto, Japan, my neighborhood had a traditional market district.  That market consisted of one long street with dozens of open-faced shops where I could buy all my weekly foods.  In India and China I shopped in less elegant, though more colorful markets where produce were laid out on blankets and I haggled prices with sellers as I watched skeptically as they weighed and counted out each item.  It was time-consuming but memorable.

I remember coming back to the USA after 11 years abroad and being overwhelmed by the choices in the convenient US grocery stores.  But amidst the huge variety of canned, boxed and processed foods, my family has voluntarily limited our choices to make life more sane and healthy.

Question for Readers:  Do you have any unusual shopping habits?

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Grocery Shopping Paths

  1. Dearie me – we have scarily similar shopping habits – I grow my own vegetables and fruit, keep chickens and buy local whole animals for the freezer, although I have to confess to a personal passion for evil frozen pizza (I just can’t live without it).

    My personal food ethics mean I want to have every possible connection with the food I eat. In Vajrayana Buddhism we try and make connections with the animals that die so that we can live – so we acknowledge the meat on the plate was an animal that died, but also the insects and field mice that died to give us the loaf of bread, and the worms I kill everytime I dig my veg plot. My life and the lives of countless animals are connected.

    On a practical note I find my food ethics mean that my son fully understands where food comes from and is happy to try some of the new and weird fruit and veg that Mum has grown in the garden.

  2. @ She-zer
    Fun story! Thanx. We have taken our children to see animals slaughtered on Amish farms and in the past, slaughtered our own chickens. So they understand the connection intimately.

    You may enjoy my post about our family’s “Thankfulness” for the interconnectedness of which you write so well.

  3. I follow exactly the path you’ve laid out in your first diagram…and I love it! I have been known to spend 2+ hours in the grocery store. I love the colors, the lighting, and picking up a couple of interesting looking new foods to try out. I love the whole experience of grocery shopping, and I’ve been known to cross stores off my list if they have bad lighting, or their seafood selection isn’t that great, lol! I dunno, just have always loved buying food; even as a child, I’d walk the two blocks to the neighborhood Kroger and pick up milk, bread, eggs and sandwich stuff for the family with my allowance (and a treat for myself, most likely a 6-pack of Pecan Sandies).

  4. Cool diagrams! I buy too much at grocery stores.

  5. Earnest

    @ J B: When the woman of the house delegates shopping to me, I ask for a list then rush to the first place I can think of that has something in the list. Then I go outwards in a disorganized spiral from where I started, jumping from location to location where the other items are. When I can’t find something, I wander the store until I get worried about how much time has passed, then finally the psychic pain of asking for help is superceded by the potential pain of returning late.

    When on my own, I walk to the store and browse in a semi-random up-and-down fashon then I leave, often with everything and as I would have in the previous pattern in roughly the same amount of time.

  6. DJ

    I try to stay on that second path, with the occasional detour for pasta or coffee filters.

  7. It’s a little scary :) The same store layout in Europe, not Walmart/Tesco, but local brand. We are truly “connected” more than we can think of.

  8. JeffC

    I’m intrigued by the “Dehli” section – all Indian food there? ;-)

  9. @ Justine Bonaparte:
    You made me smile! If we are going to wander the isles, best to fill it with pleasure.

    @ Kelly:
    Glad you enjoyed. Thanks for stopping in.

    @ Earnest:
    Ouch, that sounds painful.

    @ DJ:
    Coffee — isn’t that one of the major food groups?

    @ Neno:
    Laughing! Thanks for dropping in.

    @ JeffC:
    Long time, no see. That is hilarious. Spell checker wouldn’t catch that, would it. Maybe I will leave it for a while for the comic relief in a post which otherwise has, perhaps, a bit to much of a tinge of self-righteousness! :-)

  10. Gary

    In Australia everything is set up exactly the opposite of the diagrams above and we navigate the shop in a clockwise motion. I wonder if it is the coriolis force working on people?

  11. That is interesting, Gary, thanx for dropping in. I laughed over the “Coriolis effect”.

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