Oh, supermarkets, what are we going to do with you?

It seems you’re embroiled in a certain love-hate relationship with many of us.

Think of those farmers: they stock many of your vast shelves, yet often remain resentful for being squeezed. Or the upwardly-mobile, who slag you off in public, all while filling your coffers. Even food waste activists, perhaps your most virulent critics, have also been known to sing your praises.

However you slice it, dear supermarkets, it seems we just can’t take our eyes off of you.

Here in Canada, for example, you recently roused our spirits by bringing ugly fruit to your shelves, all while appropriating it as a new, cost-saving “brand” promising to quell food waste.

Meanwhile, in Denmark, you waded into the edible insect trade, only to pull them from the shelves two days later without telling us why.

In Alberta, you convinced the Blood Tribe of your merits, who hope to leverage your model on their land.

Yet this nagging question remains: do you really help us gain access to food? Or do you just stand in the way—-you big, boxy bully?

Over in the Bronx, a recent high-profile study seems to suggest the latter.


The NYU report investigated the effects of a 17 000 square foot Associated Foods supermarket in a known food desert, Morrisania, a neighbourhood with high rates of: “heart disease, obesity, diabetes…depression, infant mortality, mental illness and HIV…”

Its $1.1M 2010 opening costs were incentivized to the tune of $449 000 (about 40%).

However, the team reported no “significant changes in household food availability” to neighbourhood children, with an equal dearth of improved “dietary intake.” Don’t dismiss this as a one-off, supermarkets: the study’s vast sample size (about 2000 children) and lengthy duration (before, during and after the opening) suggest that even your government-fuelled spinoffs might fail to offer tangible benefit to those most in need.

Another recent article goes even further, claiming that you might be causing some of these problems to begin with.

In “Supermarkets are the problem,” Deborah A. Cohen at Slow Food USA surveys research on impulse purchases at the cash register alongside nefarious-sounding “slotting contracts” in your end-of-aisle displays. In a decisive verdict, she holds you structurally accountable for obesity and chronic disease.

Now listen up, supermarkets, because what I’m going to say might surprise you. I think we should cut you some slack.

First, determinist conclusions like the latter should be taken with a grain of your finest No Name salt.

It’s not only deceptive to pluck out and blame you from within a living, breathing, increasingly-complex wider food picture, it’s dangerous. By over-emphasizing government regulation as an ultimate cure, it effectively disempowers us everyday eaters of the education, choice, and agency we already possess—the type of things we really should be encouraged to strengthen.

If for no other reason than you’re not going anywhere soon, we’ve no doubt got a lot to negotiate.

Practically speaking, we all find ourselves in your aisles from time to time. Sometimes we’ve driven a long distance to greet you. Other times, we’ve just met you halfway.

Other times, for many of use, we just get squeezed for options and feel almost forced to wander your aisles. Yet rather than praying to be saved or averting our gaze, it would be better to simply open our eyes.

Dear sir,

I am writing this letter as a former customer of your establishment. I regret to inform you that you will no longer be receiving my patronage or the patronage of anyone with any sense whatsoever who reads this letter, which I am also sending to all local newspapers and several national newspapers.

I am not one to complain regularly, and I’m usually a very tolerant person, but the experience I had with your store was just too much for me to ignore. It was unpleasant and offensive to me, and I’d like to go over all the details of the experience so you may realize the full extent of its egregiousness.

First of all, the colour of your store is gaudy and I don’t approve of it. Did the person(s) who designed the look of the building buy the cheapest colour of paint they could find, or were they just colour blind? It is an eyesore. Also, the smell inside the store is sickening and too strong. The product you use to keep your aisles so clean is bothersome. I have a very sensitive nose, and my wife, before she left me, said once that the smell gave her a headache. And while on the topic of clean floors, I feel that you keep your floors too clean. The glare of the lights reflected back off of it causes discomfort to my eyes.

As for the products you sell, there are simply too many. I do not have the time or patience to sift through all of these items, nor do I agree that I should have to choose from among several varieties of the item I’m looking to purchase. I have enough to think about without having to spend hours deciding between different brands and styles of things. I am a busy man.

The music you play in your store is inexcusable and vulgar. Maybe these loud and lewd songs are all right for a dancing club where people are using cocaine and buying condoms in the dirty bathroom stalls, but this is supposed to be a family-friendly establishment. I can’t even fathom the amount of damage done to a poor innocent child when he or she is browsing through your toy section (which I also have several major issues with) and the latest rock and roll track from Bob Dylan or Mike Jagger and the Rolled Stones starts playing. Why not some soothing whale song instead? Or better yet, no music at all. My wife and I used to listen to music on compact discs and then she left me for another man.

And then there are your employees. Wow, what a sorry lot these people are. Where did you round them up from? Did you lift up the closest rock and hire whatever scurried out? After knocking over and smashing several expensive items, an employee of yours came rushing over to clean it up, as if he had been just waiting for me to break them. As if just because I had broken some items a few days before, and once before that, I was going to do it again. And his name tag said “Chip.” Chip! What kind of name is that? That’s not even a real name! Don’t you have any kind of screening process for the people you hire? As he was cleaning it up, this “Chip” had the audacity to look me right in the eye and smile. He told me that it was “okay” and “no big deal” and “not to worry.” Like I’m some kind of child.

After shoving him a few time and demanding to talk to his manager, I was directed to a man I was told was the assistant store manager, who had a moustache. A moustache! Do you realize what kind of men have moustaches? Degenerate men, that’s what kind. Sleazy pervert men. The kind of men that other men’s wives run off with.

This is when things got truly unacceptable. After some more shoving and yelling, “Chip” and this brute, whose name I never got because I was too blinded by his deplorable moustache, began trying to bribe me. They said they were sorry and that they were “sure we could work this all out” and offered me a free gift card if I’d just stop “making a scene.” That we could talk about this rationally, like “calm, reasonable adults.” They didn’t seem to be very reasonable to me. Acting like they could just pay me off with a gift card. Like I’m some kind of whore. A whore like my wife who ran off with one of the employees of this store.

The whole ordeal ended after an entire shelf got knocked over and fell on a little girl. Ambulances and police were called and I figured it would be best to get out of there. There was no use in trying to deal with these people. It would be much more productive to skip town and contact the source of all this. And that’s why I’m writing this letter to you.

As you can see, I have had nothing but bad experiences with this location in your chain of stores. I will never buy anything from your company again, nor had I ever before. I expect a formal, written apology from you and from everyone else involved. No, I demand it. And I also demand that you tell me which of your employees is the one who stole my wife. Was it Chip? Was it that moustached goon? Was it you, you son of a bitch?! I fucking know it was one of you!


Photo by KennyThong Candid via Flickr

skater dressI am going to kick this off by saying I’ve been a bad girl. A Nasty Gal, some might say.

See, for a while now, I have been getting notifications on my Facebook news feed regarding new items of clothing this online store, Nasty Gal, has produced. When this gorgeous midnight blue, floral Kimono caught my eye, I decided to actually visit their website and explore what they have to offer.

Nasty Gal is an eclectic online store that has something for everyone (but mostly for those lucky women who have experienced the joys of being a size two, or curvier ladies who aren’t afraid to pull off the cut-out look). But what I’ve noticed about Nasty Gal, is that everything they have on their menu are the hippest, trendiest pieces you would see the likes of Rihanna (gag me) sporting.

First of all, let me just say that I’ve noticed that black is back. The web store is infused with little black dresses, black maxi dresses, black cut out dresses, and black skater dresses. It looks great, classic, and sexy, but I think it’s safe to say that black will be making a huge splash in our autumn wardrobes.

Kimono!!Now, KIMONOS. I’m just going to take the opportunity to announce to my friends and family who doubted me two years ago that I told you so. Kimonos have made a comeback and my investment from 2011 was not a mistake, so eat my dust, Mom. Kimonos are fabulous and Nasty Gal has them beautifully fluttering around their website. I am strongly considering being unreasonable and purchasing one.

They do have one trend littering their pages that concerns me, however and no, it isn’t overalls. I sincerely hope that we’ve gotten that one out of our systems.

Has anyone heard of this “peplum” business? Well, if you don’t know, the peplum detail is extra material that flairs out at the waist of a dress, jacket, skirt, for added accentuation, I suppose.

Judy JetsonIt is supposed to give the wearer an hourglass feel, though I personally think it makes everyone look like they just stepped out of The Jetsons. I think the detail can be cute on a dress, a skirt, maybe even a top that flares out peplum style, if you’re into that, but pants? Come on.

Honestly, I could be negatively judging the peplum pants because I’ll never forget the whole “skirt attached to pants” phase that was huge in 2002 and can’t help but wonder if we’re trying to bring it back in a more futuristic way. But for all I know, people will start rocking the pants with killer chunky heeled booties, a tight cross-back bustier top, and high blonde ponytails. Hey, Judy!

Nasty Gal looks like a fun place to shop from home. It’s web design is eye catching black and white with pink detail, making you feel like an adult kid in an adult candy store. Personally, the colour scheme makes me crave shoes.

black peplum dressTo be honest, it’s quite pricy, and since I haven’t actually experienced wearing any of their apparel or (knowingly) witnessed any of it face to face, I don’t know if their prices are worth it. I did pretend shop there, however, and noticed that they don’t charge taxes.. which is weird, possibly illegal, and I could be completely incorrect about it.

Maybe they’ll just end up pulling an Ikea: wait till the last possible minute, then BAM! $100 extra has been added to your subtotal. Their shipping costs are decent, though.

Their collection is definitely something pretty to look at. If you feel like window shopping on the net, if you’re stuck at home on a rainy day, if you’re looking for some outfit inspiration. Would you buy anything? You’d probably want to, but it depends on your own personal budget and money spending ethics.

That being said, both my budget and money spending ethics are pretty low, so I’m off to purchase that Kimono and solve the “no tax” mystery. You can do the same at NastyGal.com