Yesterday, I made my first visit to Rainbow Grocery, the legendary crunchfest in San Francisco.
Best quote heard while in the store: "Well, we have organic pinot noir, but no, we don't have sulfite-free."
Scariest product purchased: GT's Organic Raw Kombucha. I have no idea what's in this stuff but it practically talks to you when you drink it. You know that story by Stephen King, "The Langoliers," about the tiny ferocious gremlins that eat away the past? I think they live inside this beverage. It is munching up all the bad things inside of me right now. The devil is screaming.
Gross generalization: The shoppers at natural food stores never look any healthier than anyone else, do they? In fact, they almost look worse. It seems to me your average Safeway shopper just looks happier and healthier.
No one at the register gave us dirty looks when we used paper bags instead of hemp totes to carry out our items, but it did remind me of something that happened recently at my neighborhood grocery. It was a U.M. for everyone.
It seemed to be a routine exchange at first. A woman stood ahead of me in line and as the cashier rung up her purchases, the grocer came up and offered her cherries, which apparently she'd been asking for but unable to find.
"Oh no. I don't want your packaging. You think I want your packaging?" she said. The cherries were in a latticed plastic bag. The woman turned away from them as if someone had tried to get away with offering her a sack of angry bees.
She went on as the poor man went to restock the cherries, still within earshot. "I don't waste packaging. You know I don't waste packaging. That's why I bring my own shopping bags in here."
The grocer was thoroughly confused. "But, how am I supposed to sell the cherries? What are people supposed to put them in?"
"You sell them in bulk! It's a waste of packaging! Why don't you sell them in bulk?" the woman said. She appeared to be completely normal, but obviously some switch had been tripped off. I was too fascinated to be annoyed at the checkout delay. I had never heard anyone say "packaging" this many times in two minutes.
The grocer and customer went for a few more rounds, gesticulating at each other with exasperation. "I'm just saying there are other options!" she cried, leaving the store while the befuddled man shook his head.
The cashier rolled her eyes at me and smiled. We all went on our merry, packaged way.
The woman was crazy, but there's no one more susceptible than I am to environmental guilting. I can't use a plastic bag now without thinking of her. "Don't give me your packaging! I don't want your packaging!"