Wednesday, August 02, 2006

All Natural.

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!"


  1. Anonymous4:11 PM

    i'm with the packaging lady

    gimme the cherried keep the plastic

  2. Anonymous12:20 AM

    Yeah! That's why when I go shopping, I just stuff as many cherries as I can in my cheeks and mumble my way past the cashier!


    "Kombucha may be known by many different names in other parts of the world, including Manchurian Tea, Manchu Fungus, Tea Kvass, Mo-Gu Fungus japonicus, Kwassan, and many others."

    Manchu Fungus, please!

  3. I agree that it's good to rail against the tyranny of packaging and all, but let's be real. You're gonna have to offer some plastic bags for people who don't bring their own (or their cheeks). (That sounded weird.)

  4. Anonymous4:13 PM

    they should charge 50c per bag and we'll see who "forgets" to bring a tote

  5. Damn, somebody (pbdotc) is getting militant on our asses... but I ain't mad atcha.

    I think 50c is too much (25?) but that's a good idea.

    The thing is, when it comes to certain bulk foodstuffs, it's hard to top the plastic bag as something sanitary and of standard negligible weight. What am I going to bring in myself, besides... a plastic bag? That rule would encourage reuse, which is great, but I'm not sure how much of a dent in plastic-bag consumption it would make. More widely available plastic-bag recycling would help.

  6. Anonymous6:44 PM

    who will speak for mother earth?

  7. tha trees... and tha pbdotc... and the nrdc... but not the powers that be

    It's poetry day

  8. Anonymous1:43 PM

    i have a question. what if you had a comfortable moment that was blogworthy. would you write about it even tho it's not an uncmo?

  9. I'm trying to think of a comfortable moment.

    There are a lot of things that I would want to blog about that are either a) uncomfortable but would get me in trouble if the parties involved were to read about it, b) uncomfortable but not much to them, such as having to say "I love you" back to my future mother-in-law when I wasn't, um, "ready" and c) comfortable, but do not fit in with the theme of this blog, which is anxiety. Do you think I should broaden the horizons?

  10. P.S. I like that there's a lot of the "simple pleasures" at pbdotc -- desserts and plants and pool feats and whatnot. Keep that going.


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