Grocery shopping once simpler

Published 12:02 am Saturday, March 8, 2014

These days the choices offered in grocery stores overwhelm me. During my lifetime, grocery shopping has changed from simple to quite involved. For years, both my parents worked in grocery stores. As a boy, my daddy learned to cut meat standing on Coca-Cola crates at a butcher block in a mining company store. At one time, Daddy even wrote the weekly specials on the storefront glass at a Florida grocery store where he worked. Mother clerked behind the counter in a country store. Customers told her what they wanted and she pulled the groceries off the shelf and placed them on the counter for them.

In later years, when everything switched to self-service, you entered a store, picked up a bottle of whole milk; selected a couple of whole chickens from the poultry section of the market display; tossed a jar of mayonnaise in your cart; reached over and searched for the softest loaf of bread on the shelf; and took a second or two to decide the brand of cereal you wanted. When you finished, a cashier checked you out, loaded your groceries into a paper bag or cardboard box and away you went. Now we leave with those aggravating plastic bags that flop around in the car trunk.

Today, with such a variety of products, choices bombard us. Grocery shopping now consumes way too much of my time. Suppose I want a box of cereal. I often find myself rushing down an aisle with cereal on both sides, trying to locate my favorite type and brand. It gets a bit frustrating sometimes.

Then there is milk. Among the old standbys of whole, chocolate, and buttermilk, the shelves overflow with skim, one and two percent, and a variety of other kinds. You can even get non-fat buttermilk (who ever thought of such?) and non-fat half and half. Same with mayonnaise. Remember when we had a choice of two or three brands of mayonnaise or we could chose salad dressing instead? Now besides the numerous brands offered, we can select between regular, low calorie, light, or those made with olive oil and other ingredients.

What about chickens? When I first married, only fresh whole chickens were available. I had to cut them up myself. I hated that. Aren’t packaged chicken parts wonderful? And I am delighted with the vast number of foods found in grocery store frozen food sections. They include fruits, vegetables, breakfast foods, all kinds of convenience meals…The list is almost endless.

I would think every shopper’s frustration is to discover a certain item you dashed in to get has been relocated in the store. Clerks are polite and helpful when you find them, but sometimes you have to chase up and down a couple of aisles before you locate one to ask for help.

I’m not griping. I can deal with minor frustrations. I think it is wonderful to have such a vast amount of selections in our grocery stores. We are truly blessed.