3.05.2009

Pillage people

Here’s the leading cause of obesity in America: Grocery Day.

All across this great country, we citizens waddle into gigantic supermarkets once a week and spend way more than we should on way more groceries than we should buy. We cart these goods home, then immediately pig out on them, sampling all the richest, sweetest, highest-calorie foods.

We’re bloated after this unofficial feast day. About the time we recover, the cupboards are bare because the kids and their friends have eaten everything, and we do it all over again.

Once upon a time, when people still walked places, they picked up only a few groceries at a time from corner markets. Enough for tonight’s meal, tomorrow’s breakfast. They ate less and they walked more and, guess what, fewer of them were fat.

Before widespread refrigeration and international food transport, shoppers were limited to what was available from surrounding farms, to what was in season. Not a lot of choice, but people also didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about whether their tofu or their mango should be kept in the fridge.

As SUVs and suburbs and side-by-side Frigidaires took over the landscape, people started treated Grocery Day less like a safari and more like a stockpiling raid. No longer hunter-gatherers, we became swooping hordes of shoppers, repeatedly pillaging the small village of Safeway, amassing so much loot we need large wheeled carts to haul it all away.

At least that’s the way I like to think of it, when I’m picking over the artichokes with the snowbirds on a Thursday afternoon. I lead a rich fantasy life.

Because we have two strapping teen-aged boys at our house, I buy lots of groceries every week, so many I barely can fit them all into one cart. The groceries fill the cargo hold and back seat of my Ford Lemonstar minivan.

When I get home, my sons help me haul the booty into the house, oohing and aahing over the Oreos and Cocoa Puffs they find in the bags. We work as team, putting away the groceries, then we launch into an individual competition to see who can eat the most the fastest.

It’s not intentional. But all that sudden variety is irresistible. Even if we try to avoid a pig-out, there are usually some treats lying about, simply because there’s not enough cabinet/fridge space to store everything, and it’s hard not to graze.

If there are teen-agers around, the snacks and sweets are the first things to go. So if we parents want a crack at an Oreo ourselves, we’d better pounce on Grocery Day. After that, good luck.

Of course, we can’t eat all the groceries in one day, no matter how we try. Not a whole minivan load of them. So the second day, we’re hard at it again, trying to consume all the grapes before they go bad and the last few marshmallows before someone else eats them. By bedtime, we can barely walk.

Consumption tapers off as the week wears on and choices diminish. Everything that’s left is either good for you or requires preparation more elaborate than a zap in the microwave. We survive on frozen food and random sandwiches.

The boys wander away in search of sweets and fast food pilfered from friends. Mom and Dad find themselves nibbling plain saltines in front of the TV because that’s all that’s available.

Time to go pillaging again. It’s Grocery Day.

1 comment:

poodleland said...

Good thing I'm on a diet. That column really made me hungry. (After all I'm an American)