Food, glorious food

I clearly have too much time on my hands because I’m pretty sure normal people’s first thought when going grocery shopping is how the store should be reorganized to make it more logical. I’m not talking about the ‘merchandizing strategies’ that place random promotions at the end of the aisle or filter you through the expensive sections of the store like an Ikea maze before you can get to the eggs and milk. I am talking about the basics of shelving taxonomies. As a public service, I am happy to provide some suggestions free of charge.

Pet food is usually near the cleaning products section. Except when it isn’t. Sometimes it is in the same aisle as the diapers and other child paraphernalia. Come to think of it, the latter makes marginally more sense since many people treat their pets like fur children. And since pet food is a distinct category and doesn’t usually require both sides of a full aisle I am okay with the notion that it needs to be shelved beside something that probably won’t have any immediate association with cats or dogs. My simple request is to standardize on a location so it doesn’t take half an hour to run in for a bag of cat chow.

Is coconut milk canned milk or is it an ‘ethnic food’? This must be one of those existential questions that even Plato couldn’t solve if ‘ethnic food’ had been a thing back in his day because even Mr. Loblaw, with all of his 21st century knowhow and grocery smarts goes back and forth between the two. Sometimes when I stride confidently towards the coffee aisle (you know, where they keep the canned milk except when they keep it with the baking supplies which is also where you will find the sugar except when it’s with the coffee, but I digress) coconut milk is nowhere to be found. And anyhow, have we not entered a ‘post ethnic food’ era? Given the fact you can buy sushi at a gas station convenience store and fried chicken at a Chinese restaurant, I think we have jumped that particular shark. (Please note: just because you can get sushi at a gas station does not mean you or anyone else should actually buy it. Just sayin’.)

The produce section is a significant piece of work on its own so I think I will have to rescind my pro bono offer and charge my normal daily rate. However, I will provide a few observations to get us started. First, tofu appears to be considered produce. This may be a radical suggestion, but since tofu is a protein and requires refrigeration perhaps it should be kept with the other refrigerated protein aka the meat section. Second can we please all agree on which vegetables sit beside which other vegetables. Stores usually get the potato and onion brotherhood right but finding shallots can be like finding Waldo. And often as not bag-o-salad is nowhere near the heads of lettuce, but come to think of it maybe that’s because the assumption is there are two types of people: those that think salad comes from bags and those that are more culinarily advanced. Further, some stores do not subscribe to the concept that the produce section should contain a standard selection of items. Like, for example, the store I was recently at that did not believe in eggplant. Oh wait – maybe I should have looked in the Italian section (which is usually right next to the canned fish, which by the way is not where the anchovies live…)

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