Friday, February 15, 2008

Defining people's entire personalities through a single behavior

NOTE: The string of "Greatest Hits" postings is now over. Looking them over, perhaps they aren't so great. But they are a little of the flavor of the writing. And probably much better than what comes next. Now for the new post:


There are two types of people who live in Fairbanks, Alaska: those who shop at Safeway and those who shop at Fred Meyer. I normally shop at Fred Meyer, because I am not a pretentious, overpaid yuppie.

Part of me feels that my dislike for Safeway is somehow ingrained in my blood. Even though my brother's girlfriend works at Safeway corporate in Phoenix, they shop at Fry's.

Personally, I just can't afford to pay extra for the exact same item I can get at Fred's.

But last week I found myself going to Safeway anyway. For Super Bowl Sunday, a friend had brought over a bag of Spicy Honey Mustard Kettle Corn Popcorn (I am not making this up), and it was strangely delicious, and I wanted more. They didn't have it at Fred's, so I went to Safeway.

They didn't have it there either, and the experience was different than Fred's.

It wasn't so crowded, which was nice, but the crowd was different. People seemed cleaner. There were no hippies. Overly-made-up women stared for minutes at containers of roasted red pepper crab bisque and aged cheddar and broccoli soup before making their decisions. They had a nut counter where a bored thirty year old gave endless samples of the thirty varieties of nuts to a couple in their mid-twenties who were dressed city-style-trendy and who had impeccably styled and moussed hair even though it was negative-forty outside. People strutted purposefully in their Italian leather shoes with their noses tilted up in the air, glaring at me in my dog-hair-covered attire. (That last sentence may not be true.)

Is it fair to judge people by their grocery shopping habits? You may say no, but I say, Hell yes!

The means by which we acquire food has defined cultures for milennia, as people moved from hunter/gatherers to farmers to the current bioscience of food production.

So much of our lives are spent gathering, preparing, eating, and thinking about food. And any action that relates to any of those processes says a lot about people and who they are. (For a mildly interesting look at how food beliefs affect relationships, check out this NY Times article.)

So I will judge people 0n their highly visible habits, since that is so much easier than getting to know them on a deeper level. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go eat my high-fiber, all-natural lunch, and then go wash it down with a gas station fountain soda.

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