Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Grocery Cart Judges

With the number of people losing their jobs and having to use food stamps, more people are getting a dose of what it is like to be judged for their food purchases. I've read many comments from people who have taken issue with the poor using their government-sponsored food purchases to buy snack cakes, potato chips, and soda. People feel that, since they pay taxes which pay for a food stamp recipient's sustenance, they have the right to decide what should be bought.

Most people believe the poor should only be given certificates for rice and beans. I guess they feel it's not bad enough being poor, but you also have to have your food choices dictated as well. My feeling about this is that I wouldn't invite someone in need into my home for a meal with the attitude that I would only feed them a particular type of food based on income level, so why should I regard food stamps any differently? I'm pretty sure anyone who I served a meal to would be offered dessert, a variety of drinks, and some interesting main meal. I guess some people would serve a poor person a different meal than a middle class one.

Of course, if you're overweight, that judgment has likely been with you during your entire shopping life. People look at your body, then swivel their eyes to your shopping cart or grocery basket. You can almost read their minds as they do this. They're trying to find out:
  1. Are you buying the sort of food that will make you even fatter?
  2. Are you buying healthy food and trying to lose weight?
  3. Is there any evidence in your cart that leads them to understand how you got so fat?
Depending on what they see, I'm sure they're reaching certain conclusions. If you have something they don't approve of in the basket, they're going to view you with increased disgust. If you have healthy food, they will either think that your attempts are in vain if you don't get off your lazy ass and exercise or that you are at least not making it any worse.

Chances are that, in the absence of any overtly sugary or fatty food in your cart, they're going to be scrutinizing the kind of food you're buying in general. Too many carbohydrates? Meat that isn't lean enough? Too much processed food? People need to find a way to blame you for your weight and the shopping cart is the best way to find incriminating evidence.

I don't think I've ever gotten a look from someone which conveyed any sort of "approval", even when the basket's contents were nothing more than fruit and vegetables. Most people tend to either give you a look of disgust if they find something objectionable or they go back to looking around the store. They either find reason to despise you or lose interest if they can't find what they need to judge you harshly. I think most of the people who judge you by your shopping cart think you shouldn't be eating at all based on your weight.