Does anyone else sneak a look at other peoples' shopping?

by 8497 · August 14, 2013 at 04:27 AM

Recently I seem to have developed a habit of looking at other peoples' shopping baskets at the checkout. This morning the guy next to me had a bunch of bananas, sliced ham, spinach, a packet of mixed nuts and box of blueberries. I was tempted to ask "Paleo?" but thought it would be rather awkward if he wasn't.

I mean either I would have got an "Excuse me!?" and then I would have had to fumble some kind of explanation primal or other. That or I would have just inadvertently outed myself with a pick-up line for some gay caveman subculture; I mean this is London of course.

I am thinking maybe we should have a sign like the Freemasons. A primal signature wink and nod, perhaps a subtle raised arm grabbing an air-spear. That way if there is no response you can just pretend you were yawning or better look like you were 16 in 1985 and merely doing an air-punch, which would actually match the bandanna tied around your ankle.

Anyway does anyone else find themselves doing the same, or perhaps even picked-up after successfully swapping coconut recipes at the checkout?

Personally speaking if I was ever to have a beautiful girl point at my bacon and ask "covering with chocolate?" I may just ask her to marry me right there. But knowing my luck she would probably ask me for my non-existent Fran time and then walk away shaking her head in dismay.

Queue: (Don't You) Forget About Me - Simple Minds.

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39 Replies

20462 · December 10, 2011 at 02:52 PM

I do, of course, it's like fun spying. Sometimes I go "OO where did you get that?!?" because they have something special in their cart that I might be interested in, most of the time I just feel sad because it's full of junk. So much packaged stuff.

EDIT: I want to make it clear that I do not judge anyone and what is in their cart. I don't know what their life is, what their budget is, are they buying for a party, etc. Of course I feel bad when I see a ton of packaged stuff but its more that I wonder what they may be up against. I don't like to think of people as being lazy but that something else is going on. Anyway..

When I go in it's usually early and quiet in the store and I'll wander and pick up new products and read them just to see. At times I'm asked by other customers what I'm doing and I'll explain I'm looking for ____. Many of them do not realize the secret stealth of ingredient language and will often put something back after I show them that, oh, there are 37 listings of sugar on the label. Yesterday it was the merits of B grade maple syrup over A. Two women had no idea and put back their A and bought the B.

I alwaysalwaysalways make a point of being friendly and nice so if someone asks what a certain something is in my cart I'll tell them what I'm using it for, will offer the recipe if they're interested, etc. If you can help expand one person's knowledge - maybe it'll spread to others. You can only hope.

1035 · December 11, 2011 at 09:30 PM

Sometimes, I look. Sometimes, they look at me.

I purchased an entire beef heart last week, at our local coop. It was 8 lbs. and as I waited in line, the woman in front of me craned her neck back and forth while trying to get a better look at the huge frozen purple-red heart with its collar of hard white fat. Finally, her curiousity won and she tapped me lightly, "What IS that thing, may I ask?" I nodded, "It's a COW's heart". Possibly, everyone including cashiers who heard me, stopped and stared. The woman gasped, "Oh really! and what do you DO with a cow's heart?" At that point, I so badly wanted to say, "Well at midnight I'll dance with it, near the forest edge!" But no, sorry to say I skipped the midnight dance and just told her we actually Eat it, and it's good. She left saying, "wow, no kidding, I can't imagine eating a heart" etc.

9796 · December 10, 2011 at 06:11 PM

I'm fairly certain I exchanged judgy glances with a preggo vegetarian at Whole Foods a few weeks ago; her cart full of tofu, soy milk, etc., mine full of pork belly, chicken, & butter.

1660 · December 10, 2011 at 10:31 PM

I always notice what people are buying, but never comment. But this last week at the butchers where I buy grass-fed beef, I noticed some lady about my age was buying the same thing. We started to chat when we noticed we'd placed identical orders.

She: I only eat grass-fed beef now.
Me: Me too!
She: I'm just learning about meat, really. I was a vegetarian for 20 years.
Me: Me too!
She: But now I eat lots of meat, and veggies.
Me: Me too!
She: Also, I gave up on grains.
Me: Me too!

And then I was more articulate after that, though just as surprised.

It was surreal. Turns out that she went to see a Traditional Chinese Medical person for help with her fatigue. She was told that being a vegetarian is a good way to have no energy and get sick, and was directed to eat lots of grass-fed meat, eggs, etc. And veggies.

Meanwhile, the staff in my local grocery store think I'm clogging my arteries with fat, and will die from a bacon overdose. And they've been kind enough to tell me that. It's hard not to laugh when "health" advice comes from somebody with three chins and about 70 pounds of extra body fat.

5763 · December 10, 2011 at 07:08 PM

I am always shocked that i have more vegetables in my trolley than a small family.

277 · December 10, 2011 at 05:54 PM

I'm completely judgmental - yet you wouldn't necessarily know how I eat by looking at the contents of my own grocery cart (hypocritical much?)

See, I'm a paleo single mother with two stubborn teenage kids who've decided that eating like MoooooooMmmmm does (even though Mom has lost 40 lbs in the last few months and may no longer need that nursing home they'd both have to pony up for one day) is ridonkulous and/or worthy of ridicule.

So I cook for myself first - then add to the meal to meet their needs, if possible. If they choose not to eat what I have made? (A lovely no-bean kickass chili I made recently comes to mind...) Well, then - it must be a YOYO (you're on your own) night for you, hmmm? Feel free to help yourselves to the frozen food, or open a can of that soup you love so much.

This means my cart starts out looking mahvelous (produce, meat, eggs, nuts) when I shop the outer edges of the store. Later on, though? Not so great, what with the ramen & other crap that covers up all the good stuff in the cart.

(I often feel like I want to have a disclaimer sign on my cart - warning: buying for others as well!)

And yet - even knowing this phenomenon exists for others, well - I still judge.

823 · December 10, 2011 at 11:45 PM

I love to talk to strangers. Grocery store is perfect for that. I usually say to the handsome single men in front of me at dinner time, in the 15 items or less line, 'that looks yummy.' Sometimes, if they have liquor, I'll say, 'looks like the party's at your house, I'll just follow you home'

But yah, I do the 'really, you're buying that' thing in my head, too.

95 · December 10, 2011 at 09:49 PM

Yes, absolutely! When I see an obese person with their cart full of grains, sugar and stuff I can't help thinking: you did this to yourself. But then again; they don't know. I'm from the Netherlands and our government tells people to eat lots of grains, bad oils and little good fat and meat. They state that red meat gives you cancer. Since I'm paleo I spend much more on food, but hey: we all spend lots of money on houses and cars and then save on food. I truly don't understand that. After all: your body is your first and most important 'house'.

1354 · December 10, 2011 at 03:16 PM

I can't stop myself from mentally judging people at the grocery store; it's a horrible habit. I manage to keep it to myself, though, because I wouldn't want to hear what other people think about my shopping cart....I'm a petite female buying 7 pounds of grass fed ground beef, 10-20 pounds of various potatoes, and a pound of kerrygold. I have not yet gathered the courage to start bringing my own burlap sack to carry tubers - the plastic produce bags break too easily.

1377 · December 12, 2011 at 07:34 PM

It's depressing really. You see folks trying to do the right thing with all the wrong information. Whole grain cereal, fat free milk, low fat yogurt et al. It is very hard to overcome false dietary conditioning. If they are open to conversation, it soon becomes clear that they think it a genetic fluke that I can consume the butter, cream, and fatty meat in my cart and stay slender.

5351 · December 12, 2011 at 01:37 PM

I'm still mostly too distracted by what's in my own cart these days. And I remember all too well when it used to look just as bad as those we (pretend not to) judge now. I'm glad people don't tend to ask though, because then I'd have to admit that I get a kick out of picking up some unidentified form of plantlife and assuming I'll find some way to eat it once I've found out what it is from the receipt.

510 · December 11, 2011 at 11:56 AM

I can't help but judge others by what's in their shopping trolley/basket, but would never act upon it or actually say anything to them.

Like a lady in her 40's who was going around doing her shopping in an electric wheelchair (possibly had MS - that's just a guess). She had a basket with cookies, some fruit, bread, frozen ready-meals. Really took all my willpower not to say anything to her.

Sometimes I consider printing out little cards with some information about Paleo, just to have in my handbag to give to people. Once you've passed on the information, it's up to them what they do with it.

Also saw a young girl who had pretty bad acne with a basket full of the same types of stuff, with 'healthy' grain bars, some cakes, bread, chocolates, sweets. I could tell that she was really conscious of her skin as she kept playing with her hair and trying to cover the skin on her cheeks.

It saddens me to see people like that and the absolute rubbish that they put into their bodies, but makes me even more grateful that I've discovered Paleo and am as healthy as I am right now.

65 · December 11, 2011 at 03:01 AM

I rarely look into other people's carts. If I do, it's just a coincidence that my eyes landed there. It's rather shocking that so many of you are cart watchers. I'm guessing that most of you are shopping sans young children (that's only in my dreams, lol).

3127 · December 10, 2011 at 02:13 PM

i live in Muskogee,Oklahoma and other than my own i have never found another paleo food hunter, and yes i do look at the carts. im sure if i do see another shopping cart with strict paleo food that the two of us will spontaneously mate and produce offspring. i just feel bad for the other shoppers that will be forced to watch.

826 · September 07, 2013 at 12:44 AM

"perhaps a subtle raised arm grabbing an air-spear"

--- LOL! I vote for that!

I can't help but look in other peoples carts. I was kinda mindful though of walking out of a grocery store recently with a mixed cut fruit container (mine) and plastic fork in one hand and a big bag of Doritos (husbands) in the other.

1158 · December 12, 2011 at 01:04 PM

I do it constantly, and unfortunately I judge as well.

I cant help but be saddened by the OverWeight parent dragging their screaming children around, as they fill their cart with PopTarts, Soda, Cookies, Frosted Chocolate Sugar Bombs, and boxes upon boxes of junk. All the while the child is off the walls, grabbing this and that, wanting more and more junk. I really feel sorry for the kids.

It makes me so happy that, while I make my way down every aisle (force of habit) my son just walks or rides calmly until we get to the produce section. Then its what's this? what's that? Can we get this? Lets cook that!

466 · December 11, 2011 at 10:08 PM

I'm guilty of grocery snooping.

It's fun and interesting to compare a person's body composition, and how healthy they look, with their food selection. It usually is what one would expect, but not always.

On one occasion I recall that I had just piled a large amount of fresh produce on the conveyor, with some wild caught salmon, and the guy behind me unloaded an entire cart full of frozen microwave dinners and other processed food. We both stood there, looking at the striking difference between the two piles. We didn't say anything, but it was awkward.

6218 · December 11, 2011 at 01:23 AM

The hubby and I notice what people have in their carts and body comp. The two are not necessarily causal - remember correlation doesn't necessarily mean causal but sometimes it sure looks that way! We try not to be judgmental but we tend to find it disturbing how much processed junk people eat (but then know that we used to eat that way thinking that way).

Some people's cart look very Paleoish but most at Whole Foods have too many grains! Some are overweight, obese, and others are scrawny but have a fatty fold on their chin (a sign of inflammation).

Most people don't stare at my food which varies because I buy meat sometimes online and produce from the farmer's market. At any given moment I could have any combo of pastured dairy, produce, pastured meat/eggs, and wild seafood.

Once at Trader Joes, the manager commented,"You look really healthy - you must eat low-fat." I responded cheerfully, "I eat grass-fed ghee and beef (and other meats/fish), veggies, and full real fat everything." He raised his eyebrows, and said, "I guess it's working for you."

7490 · December 11, 2011 at 01:18 AM

I live in Hippieville, OR and shop primarily at my health food co-op, so there are lots of interesting stereotypes.

I've often wondered what all the raw vegans think of my cart stacked high with grass-fed beef, lamb, pork, eggs, and fish. But there are always tons of veg and fruit (for my toddler) too. I'll admit I get a thrill out of the possibility of horrifying someone with all my animal products.

I've noticed there are obvious vegetarians, and often they are older and quite frail and/or overweight/obese. Lots of beans and grains, packaged foods, and tofu. Then there are the regular folk who think that buying their mac and cheese organic makes it better somehow. These are often families with small children.

But we also have lots of folks doing some strain of Paleo around here, like GAPS or WAPF. Lots of naturopaths and homeopaths around here espousing this stuff.

Loving the handshake idea!

2923 · December 10, 2011 at 09:05 PM

All I look for is chitlins. I need some advice without being accused of racial stereotyping.

32177 · December 10, 2011 at 03:33 PM

I don't.

I'm too busy wondering what the cashiers think of my 5 bars of dark chocolate, cream, eggs and cheese! (Yes, in high school I was a very judgmental cashier in a grocery store, lol!)

3224 · December 10, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Mash--you're so much nicer than me, looking at the positive. I'm super-judgmental woman at the grocery store even though I'm not really like that in real life (I don't think). I notice if people's carts look more or less paleo, but I really pay attention to the "really? You're feeding your kids THAT?" moments. I also always look at my stuff going down the conveyer belt and assess it as a whole, along the lines of that Hungry Planet book.,29307,1626519,00.html

4275 · December 12, 2011 at 10:46 PM

I love spying in other peoples shopping trolleys and have gone so far as to take covert photos...

Whatever people tell you about their amazing healthy diets - seeing what they actually buy says it all!

417 · December 11, 2011 at 11:48 AM

I am caught red handed! I LOVE looking at other people's shopping carts. To be honest, I hope they are looking at mine too. I seem to always strike up a conversation waiting in line to check out. If it isn't the person behind me then its the one who is scanning my meat and produce. They all ask me how I am going to cook items like squid and kale. Or do I need so much coconut milk? I often get asked where's my "whole grains".

Haha... now my young daughter is picking up on the habit and often asks (in a loud voice) why the other shoppers have skim cow milk in their cart. Grocery shopping has become a very fun event in our family.

1187 · December 11, 2011 at 02:18 AM

how about the 12 packs of pepsi that can hang right on the tops of the shopping carts, all the way around!

11113 · December 10, 2011 at 05:33 PM

Yes, it's a judgmental thing but unless I see a fat chick with a cart full of pastries, ramen noodles and frozen dinners I really don't pay that much attention to it.

I remember getting into a convo with an older overweight lady who was driving an electric cart around the store. I was buying some no-sugar-added applesauce, and she was mumbling about which type of tinned fruit to buy and had a basket full of crap food. I convinced her to try the no-sugar-added diced fruit and applesauces, because really, they all taste the same and are a wee bit better for you. They also cost the same as the regular kind.

1193 · December 10, 2011 at 04:02 PM

I do it a lot. And it just happens before I even realise it, not that I do it on purpose. Especially when someone is heading for the SAD award and not so well looking in health terms, "Want to look like that?" is the first thing I automatically ask myself to keep on track.

8890 · December 10, 2011 at 04:00 PM

I always watch, and sometimes comment. It is sad to see the unkempt thin women buying tuna and a few packets of cheap processed meat, maybe some chips and salsa at a dollar store. Clearly drug addicts. Then there are the frail old people buying purely packaged food, and I wish there was someone to cook for them. I am sure most people think worse things than I do when they see my cart. I know I would be stopped by Dr. Oz and handed a citation, since I purchase few vegetables. I had to laugh at my own cart yesterday. I ran walked out with a huge bag of macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, braunschweiger, broccoli, coffee, olives, and a bottle of Argentine malbec. Would you recognize this? Some people do judge, but like Dr. K, the butcher comes right over as soon as he sees my shopping cart in the area.

40588 · December 10, 2011 at 03:34 PM

I'm in and out of the grocery in about 10 minutes typically so I don't get a chance to look at people's purchases too often. Usually get to study people's carts when I get stuck behind a couple 4-foot-wide behemoths who block the whole aisle. They'll most likely have a few cases of non-diet cola, 2-3 loaves of the whitest of white bread (Wonderbread!), a couple boxes of cereal (perhaps some of it is conventionally "healthy"), some juice (or worse, juice drink!), nothing from the produce department and boxes upon boxes of premade junk. I just smirk to myself and try to avoid getting crushed against the shelving as a sneak by.

4232 · December 10, 2011 at 02:22 PM

I do often look at others' shopping carts. Hard to avoid at the checkout while waiting in the queue. I see no cart of goods that even slightly resembles a Paleo diet. I also sneak peeks at people's figures.

It causes me alarm to see what folks buy. Especially when they stock up on white sliced bread, litres and litres of soda and other foods which I cannot bring myself to eat. I feel compassion for them. They have almost no chance of ever even hearing about a Paleo diet.

When I was on my diet before Paleo, there were even then very few foods I could buy at an ordinary supermarket. After all, I only ate organic food. Now, it is almost impossible to buy anything at the local supermarkets. So a quick in and out usually, with only a few items in my cart.

I live in Spain.

400 · May 31, 2012 at 05:35 PM

As embarrassing as it is I spy, and pass judgement. (Quietly, and to myself mind you)

1883 · May 31, 2012 at 01:38 PM

As a fairly antiscocial human being, I am fortunate enough to have a 24 hour grocery store near by where I do most of my grocery shopping. Apparantly I am the only nutcase that goes grocery shopping at 5 am on a Sunday morning and I would like to keep it that way. I have certainly found that since being paleo, I absolutely judge people based on their shopping carts in combination with their physique. I may be going to hell for saying this, BUT I think it is pure laziness when the 769 pound woman riding the motorized scooter around the store with a basket full of junk food is asking people for help to get her more junk food that she can't reach. There, I said it, we were all thinking it.

384 · February 23, 2012 at 03:45 AM

I'm often depressed by what I see in other peoples' carts, but I know the feeling is often mutual. I like to imagine what they think seeing all my 'unhealthy' fatty foods piled up next to lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.

I'm even more concerned when I walk down the health food aisles, though. There seems to be more garbage there than in the rest of the store.

I think we should all wear the most obscene colored Vibram Five Fingers when we go shopping to mark our status as members of the tribe. Another option is to not bathe at all, so we can recognize one-another through smell...

21258 · February 23, 2012 at 12:15 AM

I feel immense shame when asked to pick up a non-paleo item for my wife at the grocery store. I'll have bacon, butter, steaks, and some kale in my basket... then I begrudgingly and timidly place the candy bar in there... hoping no one will notice.

1637 · August 14, 2013 at 04:27 AM

Yeah, either that or looking at pregnant Kim Kardashian pictures in line.

144 · July 31, 2013 at 11:01 AM

Yes, I sneak a look and secretly judge 'em.

1153 · May 31, 2012 at 04:32 PM

I hate people who look in my shopping trolley,dont dare look at my food if your behind me in the queue!

7559 · February 23, 2012 at 03:55 AM

It is very interesting to me to look at what people are buying at my Health Food Store(Natural Grocers--Vitamin Cottage)--they carry grass-fed beef, pastured butter and cream(not raw in Colorado,) wild caught sardines, grass-fed beef liver etc. even Ostrich!

Most people are not buying that stuff though when I'm checking out. I think you can tell by looking at people's faces who is eating meat and fat and who is eating the whole grain crackers tofu and wheat germ. I feel mostly pity though...I want to grab a Nourishing Tradition or The Paleo Diet off the shelf and give it to them.

40 · December 13, 2011 at 03:20 AM

I hate to admit - I am absolutely a judger, though I never comment! I live in upstate NY and shop mostly at Wegman's, which carries pretty much everything for any way of eating. I feel badly for the people with carts full of of conventional "diet" food - whole grains, soy, low-fat, etc., and it makes me sick that that is still being pushed by the media and the government. But the majority of people I run into have processed junk galore, and I feel no sympathy for them. True, I don't know their circumstance (my brother and father exist on bologna sandwiches on white bread, cookies, and ice cream and I sometimes shop for the whole family), but it is no secret those kinds of thing is deadly. 99.9% of people know they shouldn't be eating them, so why do they continue to throw them in the cart, week after week?

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