Grocery Musings

A few things I’ve noticed about grocery stores, groceries, and grocery shopping:

  • During the day on a weekday, the grocery store is filled with women with babies and old people. Even in this factory town where a large number of people are shiftworkers there are few men, fewer men with children, and very very few families. Not the most statistical of surveys but it’s been my observation. This is partly why I like to do my errands during the day when possible — the lines are short, the store mostly empty (compared to evenings and weekends), and people are mostly in a casual mood. Yes I’m lucky I can still negotiate my schedule this way.
  • The plastic shopping bags they’re giving out at Zehrs these days have (what I’m certain is) a strategic hole in the bottom. It’s in the same place in every bag and (conspiracy theory) they’re intentionally making these bags defective so that people have to purchase bags for their garbage cans and cat litter. Mostly I use reusable bags and bins but I do need a handful of disposables each week for my son who cleans the cat litter. It’s taking twice as many bags now to do the work of one, just so we don’t stream litter across the house.
  • The stores cannot decide where to stock the organic produce and other products. Some stores have a separate section so you can skip the huge store and just go for the gold. Other stores have the organics spread throughout so that you have to hunt each shelf — and so you can’t skip anything. I prefer keeping it all central because it speeds things up for me.
  • Vegetable does not necessarily mean vegetarian. I’m always surprised at the fish sauce, anchovy extract, etc in vegetable meals. sigh I’m so tired of reading labels.
  • It was only last year that the local Zehrs got self-serve checkouts. I first used these in 1993 in Nova Scotia in a grocery store. Go figure it took until 2006 to get them to Ontario.
  • The grocery bins that the store sells as an alternative to bagging your groceries do not fit on the self serve checkout stands.
  • The Zehrs in South Windsor does not offer paper bags, claiming that Zehrs did a study and found that the paper bags break down at the same rate as plastic. Seems awfully strange then that the stores on Dougall, in Lasalle and in St. Clair Beach all still offer paper bags.

Got any more observations?


  1. Skye, 6. March 2007, 11:40

    Could you tie a knot in the bottom of the plastic bags? Don’t know if that would make them too small for the cat litter.

    The number of bizarre and inaccurate definitions of vegetarian never ceases to amaze me. Is it really that hard? I feel like I need the internet in my pocket when I go shopping, to make sure about some of the more obscure ingredients, because who knows what the manufacturers have decided vegetarian means?

  2. Candace, 6. March 2007, 14:18

    Tying knots is a great idea (for me anyway, don’t think I’d take a chance with my kids doing it – too risky ;) ). It certainly seems that someone is making it more difficult than necessary. Do they think we’ll just decide it’s easier to purchase than tie? I hate double bagging!

    I’m tired of reading labels too but it’s all we’ve got for now. And it’s not just “vegetarian/vegetable” but had a look at anything labelled ‘organic’ lately? It’s another word with multiple meanings. And then there’s genetically modified/frankenstein foods. In Canada, labeling about GM-ingredients is not allowed either but stamping certified organic from regulating bodies that regulate that is so it can be really hard to know what you’re eating. But that’s a whole other post…..

    Amazing that we can still find healthful and delicious food to eat!

  3. jacqui583, 6. March 2007, 15:20

    I agree about the bags, and I do tie knots in them when there’s holes to do litter-duty. It does make the bag quite small and you may need more than one depending on how often you scoop.

    As far as the self-serve lanes, I refuse to use them. I figure they are eliminating good paying jobs with benefits by having a computer serve me. I suppose I’m a little hipocritical as I do use bank machines, but I’ll happily wait in line for a “live” clerk in the grocery store.

  4. Candace, 6. March 2007, 16:46

    But sometimes the attended lanes are too long, the clerks are miserable, and they back bananas under potatoes in the grocery bins!

    Since I’m keen for societal reform I’m okay with computers doing what they can to free up our time for other pursuits. I don’t think it’s a good use of human potential to stand for 8 or even 4 hours scanning groceries and packing bags. I understand that people need money and benefits to live in this world but wouldn’t the world be different if we didn’t?

    What else could we do if we had those hours back each week? Anything that might meet our basic needs for shelter, food, and clothing?

  5. fisherwoman, 22. March 2007, 15:24

    We went to that great Tai place that we went to on Robson Street on St. Patrick’s Day. I saw that they had curry sauces for sale so Girl picked one out, then read it carefully at the table to find that it had fish sauce. It is hard being a new vegitarian and a new vegan. You have to be so careful, it is annoying.


  6. Taunia, 24. May 2007, 23:39

    I thought I was the only person who noticed this Zehrs bag conspiracy. I can no longer use them for scooping kitty litter. I’m a fan of the paper bags, but always have to hunt through the store asking for them and get treated like a thief who’s trying to steal the bags. I also like to bring cloth bags, but it’s a bit annoying to have to notify the self serve person everytime.
    I really like the way Zehrs is trying to gear itself towards a certain demographic, but at the same time it’s kinda like the’ve got your number. They know your gonna shop there, so they can get away with inconsitancies in customer service levels and food availability.

  7. Candace, 25. May 2007, 8:08

    I’ve noticed recently that Zehrs is now selling their own cloth bag and they’ve moved the bins into the shopping section of the store instead of just having them at the checkouts. I wonder if the holes in the bags are to push people into buying the cloth ones?

    It’s great to promote the reusable cloth option but as long as they are also offering plastic bags, they should be reuasable too. How long do you think until plastic bags are discontinued here?

  8. Zehrs Employee, 25. March 2009, 19:11

    Well, effective April 22, 2009, all Loblaw Companies Corperate stores (Zehrs, Real Canadian Superstores, Loblaws, etc) will no longer provide plastic bags for free. They will be 5 cents each. Also, paper bags have been “discontinued” from stores. Please use “Green Bags” or any type of bag other than PLASTIC!!!


Write a comment: