Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Is supermarket, the new age fantasy?

I've been a supermarket vulture recently and oh my, how have our civilization has evolved.

We used to have one type of cooking oil. Maybe two or three choices of brand but essentially the same stuff. Then the choice widens as more and more brands push through the shelf. Some independent, some a few sub-brands from the same company, designed to dominate visual space with little product differentiation. And then the range started growing roots vertically. Within cooking oil, you now can choose peanut, canola, palm, etc etc. Brands of each sprouting like branches. And then the budding specialist oils (raspberry mango, olive and spice, etc etc) blossoms to confuse you even more if you're not confused by now. Welcome to grocery 2.0. And that's just the oil. Wait till you see the other stuff.

What happened to us? How much variety can we really consume?

But I must say that going grocery window shopping has become a new hobby of mine. I don't cook much nor great. But I simply couldn't resist the fascination of being awed by the powerful but mostly overlooked little inventions of mankind. Inventions that not only sustain us but nourish and enrich us. Amazing isn't it?

If you believe in the theory 'paradox of choice' then you must agree with me that the business of grocery shopping might be a lot less prosperous than it actually seems to be. What do you do when you click on a website that has nothing but 8 point size text and no matter how long you scroll, the page knows no end? You x it of course. So imagine being overwhelmed by rows and rows of colourful bottles and boxes and packages and what not. With no recipe in hand. You thought you would come for an exploration and an exploration it is. And find yourself at a complete lost, paralysed by the paradox of being able to whip up almost infinite types of dishes yet you could decide on none. Brilliant.

Now for the swift sighted, there's a blatant gaping hole of need that begs to be fulfilled. Perhaps in more than one way but nevertheless a great opportunity to help ease this shopper paralysis and make us all better cooks, chefs, homemakers, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, sons and daughters. If you can spot it, why not share it? See if we're on the same page? ;)

Meanwhile, I should stop blogging and get on with my cart. I'm causing a supermarket jam.  Happy shopping y'all!

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