My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Variety is the spice of life

Yesterday I was on the hunt for a spice named Adobo and had mild realizations that, even through the stores are getting larger, the selection is becoming smaller. But maybe a further explanation is in order:

Adobo is an extremely popular spice in the Latin American world for meats. It is very common in every grocery store near even the smallest Latin population. That being said, I live in Michigan, so I expected some problems. Meijers is a huge Super Wal-Mart-like store here in Michigan, so they were my first choice. Strike One. Next up was the Kroger, which is smaller, but located near a small and recently imported Mexican enclave. Strike two. So, with much regret, off to Wal-Mart I went. Surely Wal-Mart, with its selection of billions of items, acres of shopping, and constant market research would have a 2oz bottle of spice. But alas, I struck out.

What happened next surprised me. As I walked back through the spice and condiment isle I realized that I was low on ketchup. Stopping about 10 feet from where the spices ended, I was in immediately dumbfounded of the selection of ketchups available. There were, and this is not an exaggeration, 19 different types of ketchups. Upon choosing one I realized that since I had one item, I might as well pick up a couple of other things that I needed.

It was while picking up these couple other items that I slowly started realizing what was happening. Isle after isle, shelf after shelf, was a cornucopia of remarkably similar items, almost identical in price, size, and type, all next to each other on the shelf. There were over 40 different waters, hundreds of breads, and a selection of cereals that was spread over two 100 foot isles. Yet, everything seemed the same. The cereals were all made by a couple of large companies, the bread was all about the same, with the general variations on white vs. wheat, and the water was, well, water. Nothing that I found in this store had any real variety.

What I did find was massive quantities of similar items with different packing. Everything was a fake choice. It was the equivalent of going to a car lot that spanned acres and acres, to only find Hyundais. Sure, the Hyundai may be economical and cheap, but is it what you always want? Is only having the option of the same bland option an option at all? If your choice comes down to the blue one with the better radio or the red one with nicer wheels, how do you know that you wouldn’t have been happier with a Toyota, Ford, or a used Jaguar from the 80s? And what about motorcycles? Bikes? Electric cars? A scooter? Who knows? Not us, because all we have to see is the same thing in different packaging.

So now I sit lamenting at my computer, Adoboless, and all because I just wanted to add a little spice to my life.

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