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Upon returning from Japan in 2013 I wondered what I would do next. For four years I had lived in Japan and then I found myself walking down the same streets that I had grown up on. In many ways, it was a revisitation to the beginning. The local grocery store had an opening and so I dove in. I needed a way to make money and it was a way to find my feet once again.
The store put me into the cellar of the grocery store and I was introduced into what went into producing the cut fruit that ended up on the cooler shelves on the main floor. Even now I walk in and there is the chopped fruit looking perfect with its geometric shapes and perfectly contained. All that seemed to be missing is the fork that would allow the perfect morsels that when consumed would provide the perfect nutritional sustenance.
Then my eyes glance up at the price, which seems to be a joke and I walk by settling for the whole fruits that look far less easy to deal with, yet are reasonable in price. Yet, more and more I'm realizing price is almost always justifiable. I know now why that fruit is put at such a high price as I now have the memory of being on the lower floor of the grocery store wrapped in two down jackets at six in the morning getting ready to cut and divide the fresh fruit of the day into their respective containers. It is a job I am thankful that I no longer have to do and yet I'm aware and grateful for the effort that is needed to produce the benign looking innocent containers. They're still on the main floor, conveniently placed next to the checkout aisle and I haven't purchased one container since.
After finishing that job I went to massage school and then graduated a year later and then worked in a spa for two years. It was then that I was again placed in a grocery store and again introduced to the food system. The cut fruit section of all grocery stores is one section that I have boycotted until now and instead, my sights were focused on purchasing other frozen food as I thought it would be far less aggravating on the worker. Yet, now I have the experience of showing up many days and dreading the task of diving into the frozen section and then moving onto the dairy section and then feeling a moments elation at moving onto the grocery section or the products that do not require any freezing. Having this perception has now let me step back and re-evaluate how I buy food.
I am very hesitant on buying anything frozen and really have a battle with myself when it comes to buying anything in the dairy section as well. The most dreaded task of working the grocery section or non-frozen section is unloading the chips. Isn't that surprising? It also happens to be the only boxes that are not able to be used again as grocery boxes for customers as our store recycles the boxes for consumer use. I still do buy chips from time to time though.
The experience of working in supermarkets has given me a new found perspective and awareness of how I purchase food. I now am starting to bring package construction into the parameters, which affects whether I will walk out of the store with the item. Is it an item that stands up well in the aisle or does it tip over? Is it a round container? At the present we live in a world of choice and yet peeking further into the food puzzle allows greater ease of choosing what we'll put on the table. The process of food production definitely includes what goes down at the supermarket as well.