“Humans Trump Robots at the Grocery Store”

Nice to know we can beat the machines at something, however other things appear to be a draw.

What’s so cognitively demanding about supermarket checkout? I spoke to several former checkout people, and they all pointed to the same skill: Identifying fruits and vegetables. Some supermarket produce is tagged with small stickers carrying product-lookup codes, but a lot of stuff isn’t. It’s the human checker’s job to tell the difference between green leaf lettuce and green bell peppers, and then to remember the proper code.

There’s something sobering about telling somebody “that’s romaine lettuce.”

The Grocery Store and Wine Debate

The wine in grocery stores debate centers around choosing between protecting consumers and protecting industry.

This is why opponents of wine in grocery stores (most often liquor stores and wholesalers) prefer to argue the issue over the issue of the harm it would cause liquor store owners if consumers no longer were forced to enter a second store to get a bottle of wine with dinner. In a recent article about the effort to change the law in Tennessee, Josh Hammond, owner of Busters’ Liquors & Wines in Memphis and president of the Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association, made the case like this:

“Wine and spirits retailers will have to lay employees off and many will have to close. Where will the jobs come from? Certainly not the grocers. They’re not adding square footage or shelf space. They won’t need to hire one extra person.”

Here is what’s unquestionable: If a state changes its law to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores, consumers not only support the law, but they also benefit from the law. On the other hand, it is unquestionable that some people currently buying wine in liquor stores will, under a new law, choose to take their wine business to grocery stores.

What’s a law-maker to do?

Food Was The 43%

Homestead Revival making the case that we should spend more on groceries:

At the turn of the 20th century, families spent approximately 43 percent of their income on food for the table. Woah… let that sink in a minute. That’s more than the average house payment. In fact, that’s nearly HALF one’s income! Take out another 10% for tithe and 10% for savings and you’re left with only 37% of your salary. Of course, taxes were much lower then, but how many of you could pay the utilities, gasoline (much less buy a car), clothe your children, and provide the other “necessities” on that kind of money.

You may have to soon. And perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad thing.

With the dawn of regular farming subsidies, prices at the market started falling. Today, only about 11 – 19% is spent on food. And what did we do with all that “extra cash”? We began entertaining ourselves. (I have a LOT to say on this topic, but I’ll reserve that for another day).

I think there’s an argument that groceries SHOULD be cheaper because of government subsidies, but the problem is the government subsidies go towards things like corn production, which just ends up in soft drinks.

“Wegmans? Really? Please explain.”

Here in New York there’s a fascination over Wegmans that starts in the western part of the state where people use words like pop instead of soda.

Me and a friend visited another friend of ours one summer and he took us to a Wegmans. I don’t mean like “oh, we need some stuff for grilling, let’s go to Wegmans.” It was more like “HOLY FUCK! You guys never been to Wegmans? We’re going RIGHT NOW!”

Discovering Goose Island

A lot of times when I go grocery shopping I like to look at product packaging. Cereal boxes are the most lively product packaging: they’re bright and colorful, and long ago each major brand came out with a cartoon character so that it would appeal to kids.

One thing that’s caught my eye lately is a brand of potatoes: Goose Island.


Goose Island is a farm in Upstate, NY–but before I researched it I imagined Goose Island to be so much more.

After shopping I sometimes drive home wondering about the story of Goose Island.

Chapter One: This Was A Bad Idea

“Finally!” shouted Roger. “An island! Up ahead.”

“Well, I’ll be.” Frank almost couldn’t believe it. “What did I say, WHAT DID I SAY!? Just follow the evening sun and we’re bound to find land.”

The pair started the day excited. Roger had recently gotten his pilot’s license. The two borrowed a plane from Roger’s uncle to try flying over the Florida Keys, but 20 minutes into the flight they were out of fuel. Frank wondered if granting Roger a license was a mistake.

So here they were, floating in their life jackets in the Atlantic Ocean, their prayers answered.

Chapter Two: French Fried

Roger and Frank swam to the beach. Roger layed down in the sand to rest.

“Roger,” Frank said. “Something don’t seem right about this island. It smells like potatoes.”

“Nah, that’s just yer imagination. Besides – what’s so bad ’bout potatoes?”

The pair searched the island for hours looking for help or a way home.

“Do you hear that,” asked Frank. “Some kind of rustling…”

“What? There you go imagining things. I sure could go for some french fries.”

“Look! Over there.”

There through the palm trees was a site neither of them had ever seen.

Roger gasped. “Potatoes! EVERYWHERE!”

Potatoes as far as the eye could see in a sunny oasis.

Roger and Frank ran to the potatoes, diving into them like Scrooge McDuck and his money bank. They even started throwing them at each other like snowballs.

Roger laughed. “Frank! Why should we ever leave? We could LIVE off these potatoes for the rest of our lives!”

A distraught goose watched from a distance…

Chapter Three: Duck, Duck, Noose

I think you get the idea.