Grocery shopping is a shared, common and recurring experience that we take for granted in our everyday lives. Being able to visit and shop at the supermarket is an everyday activity, and one that we cannot do without. For most, grocery shopping can be a matter of practical supply replenishing, while for others, it can be a fun and leisurely event . A brief escape even, from a humdrum, boring existence at home.
Once there, you go fetch the humble grocery cart. These four wheeled baskets on wheels and what they contain have come to “define” who we are; for instance your status in life (the imported Kobe beef), your preferences (the organic eggs), how you budget money (the panic buying of bargain toilet paper), or how you splurge (copious amounts of exotic wine) subtly expose us. All these things about you are reflected in that indispensable thing we call the grocery cart. You are what you buy, could be a strong case to make. This is perhaps why you can’t help spying what the next person has stashed in their cart. It’s the inherent nosiness in all of us that has us doing this compulsively.
Standing in line cued at the cashier can also be another experience in itself. Remember being annoyed by someone’s immense (and obnoxious) grocery haul? Or do you recall being drawn into nice conversation with a stranger? What about the time you avoided eye contact with that dreadful person who can’t stop yakking? Standing in line at the cashier can be the most uneventful thing, but you never know when the most benign thing can turn awful.
Finally, never underestimate the tempting urge to indulge a grocery meltdown. Don’t ever be that guy or girl that “lost it” once upon a time, berating everybody at the supermarket. Believe us, the reputation will stick for some time.
Photographer Peter Menzel’s series is his tribute to this universal activity that literally fuels our everyday lives. Regardless of race or culture, grocery shopping is an essential part so organic to normalcy. Mundane as it may seem, it represents the fulfillment of some of our most basic, and core aspirations. What we really take home with us from the grocery is not a hodgepodge of goods, but rather a profound and fulfilled sense of pride and dignity.