POSTS WITH TAG: grocery shopping

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    I have a sad tale of first-world problems -- but it's one we can all probably relate to. We begin with our reality TV heroine in the grocery store, buying the ingredients for cupcakes. But alas! One key ingredient is missing. Quoth former Bachelorette Emily Maynard, "What happened to @BettyCrocker Rainbow Chip icing?? How am I supposed to make funfetti cupcakes without it?" How indeed, Emily Maynard. HOW INDEED.

    No seriously, though. How do you make funfetti cupcakes without rainbow chip icing? Ooh, I hate it when your favorite food just disappears from store shelves. That is the worst! Well, not the worst, worst. But it's still annoying.

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    Grocery stores are enigmas. From the giant chains in all their splendor, to the tiny ones that seem to sell only a single head of lettuce and a half eaten loaf of bread. They are the greatest places on earth if you've got nothing but time and a desire to wander. Plus, they are full of food which makes them immediately awesome. But most of us don't have hours, minutes, or even seconds to spare. That plus jobs plus the million other moving parts that make up a day can turn grocery shopping from a pleasure into a total, maddening disaster.

    God forbid you go in after right the school day or work day is over. You might have planned to only spend five minutes in the place, but when you emerge later the sun has set and you have aged a hundred years. Just like Rip Van Winkle before you. There is no amount of discounted breakfast cereal that will ease such an ache. 

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    Being that it's an uber-successful, nationwide grocery chain many Americans swear by, there's no feeling bad for Whole Foods. But it is an easy target -- and one that's quickly becoming the punchline to jokes about #WhitePeopleProblems. Where do spoiled, self-obsessed, phony greenies shop? Whole Foods. Where do people go when they have "rich, white person problems" ... you know, like gluten intolerance or Candida overgrowth! I'd venture to guess heavy metal toxicity (from too much sushi, obvs), nut allergies, or lactose intolerance all fall under that category, too, right?

    That seems to be the thought of comedian Kelly MacLean, who made quite the impression on the web this week with her HuffPo story "Surviving Whole Foods," making fun of the store she sees as "a microcosm of everything I hate about our new green culture." Uh huh ...

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    You know what's a mess? Food expiration dates. Right? Have you ever looked at a label reading "sell by" and wondered what exactly that meant? It's a label for the store, not for us. It doesn't really tell us how long that food can sit in our refrigerator or shelves. If you buy that milk on the day of the "sell by" date, how long do you have to drink it all? I know that information is out there, somewhere. You can probably Google it. But why isn't it on the milk carton, where it would be most helpful?

    This is the main kvetch in the new report, "The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America." The basic idea of the report is just that -- confusing and inconsistent labeling lead to food waste. Ooh, I hate wasting food because that means wasted MONEY. They recommend standardizing the labeling system, which is smart. But what do we do in the meantime?

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    Last week's voluntary Chobani recall caused QUITE the stir. Like so many other of my friends and coworkers, I tossed a few recently purchased cups with the code 16-012 and expiration dates between September 11 and October 7, 2013. I even opened one up and saw some of the "swelling" and "fizzing" that consumers were complaining about on the official Chobani Facebook page.

    Chobani has identified the mold that caused these issues as Mucor circinelloides, which commonly affects fruits and vegetables. On a conference call arranged by the company, Cornell University professor Randy Worobo said that the mold should "not pose a health risk to most consumers." They've also declared that as of now, 95 percent of the affected products have been pulled.

    Hmmm, most consumers, eh? Well, this is what I know: Just because the mold is "safe" and shouldn't "pose a health risk," that doesn't mean I'll stop listening to all the customer complaints of stomach pain and nausea.

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    By now, many of us know all the sneaky tactics grocery stores use to lure us into buying junk food we know we shouldn't buy. But did you know -- at some grocery stores something even more sinister lurks. Some stores are actually tricking shoppers into buying HEALTHY FOOD. (Horror flick scream!) NO! Yes. Innocent, unsuspecting shoppers are being lured away from the neon-colored sodas and the radioactive-orange cheese puffs and toward the (shudder) dreaded produce aisle. What are these devious tricks, and how can you outsmart them?

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    Have you ever wished you were grocery shopping and suddenly found yourself in the middle of an opera? Well, wish no more! It happened to those attending the gala -- I mean, shopping at the gourmet fresh market Mariano's in Chicago. People who looked suspiciously like regular ol' workers were cleaning, putting out food, and slicing meats when Laaaaaaaaa!!! Suddenly they were singing Verdi's La Traviata. Happens every day, right?

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    And now it's time for another exciting round of: First World Problems! I know it's obnoxious to kvetch about the inconveniences and tiny troubles of modern life in these United States. But can we please talk about grocery shopping? We live in an age of overabundance. So much food, so many calories, we hardly know what to do with them all. Yet grocery shopping sometimes feels like an alienating, industrial experience that almost takes all the joy out of eating altogether. It's all about getting the goods and then getting out alive, without the potato chips and soda you know you don't need. Here are nine things that drive me crazy about grocery shopping. I'm sure you could probably come up with a few of your own.

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    Buying more organic food at the grocery store? You’re in good company. The Organic Trade Association reports that 8 in 10 American families say they shop the organic aisle, too. But, yeah, it can be pricey.

    Bridget Lappert, the founder of, a website committed to helping young women live the cashmere lifestyle on a cotton budget, says organic doesn’t have to mean expensive.

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    You want your family to eat food that’s fresh and healthy, but it can be really aggravating – not to mention quite expensive – to fill your grocery cart with apples, oranges, berries, bananas, and other fruit, only to watch it rot on the counter or find yourself eating PB&Js every day just to pay for it.

    But it’s going to be okay: just follow these tips from consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch and you can buy fruit by the bushel without breaking the bank. Good for you and your debit card, so dig in!

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