This was originally posted to my old blog on 23 May 2013.
I’ve started doing something when I go shopping. It started with a box of cereal. Actually, it started with the information that we are producing enough food to feed every single human being on earth, but we waste almost half of it. With this rattling about in the back of my mind, I reached for a box of cereal in Lidl a few weeks ago. And stopped, mid-reach. There was a box at the top, but I was about to wiggle another out from the collection, because this box at the top was damaged. It struck me then that other than the cosmetic aspect, there was nothing really wrong with this product. The cereal inside was sealed in plastic, and the box itself was still sealed. All that was different between this box and the rest, was that someone somewhere along the line had put a bit too much pressure on the top, maybe someone had leaned against the stack of boxes or something, and the top of the box got a bit squashed.
If I didn’t choose this box of cereal, most likely every shopper following me would do the same. Sooner or later a shelf-packer would come to tidy the cereal aisle, see the damaged box and remove it. It would probably get thrown away.
I redirected my reaching hand, and loaded the damaged box into my trolley. I brought it home, the kids opened it sometime, they opened the plastic bag inside, ate the cereal, and all lived. Subsequently, I’ve bought a bottle of laundry soap with a slightly sticky lid, a pack of toilet paper with the plastic wrapping slightly torn on one corner, and a cucumber that had a small bad spot. The cashier pointed that last one out to me (I hadn’t noticed), and I said it was all right, I’d take it, we’d eat it before it spread and the damage was so minute I could just cut it out when I chopped the salad. It was a bit of a job to convince her to let me take this inferior product. She was totally prepared to go get me another one. Was I sure?
I was sure. I still am.