Post #568: A wrap-up on grocery shopping, revised

Posted on March 24, 2020


Post #565 was a long-winded explanation of how I try to minimize health risks when grocery shopping.  (And the things I flubbed the first couple of times.)  Post #566 was about a rumored increase in wages at Wegman’s.

Courtesy of Shelley Ebert, today I have three more interesting things to report on the shopping front.  As well as a couple of items from my wife.  So I thought I’d do a wrap-up of this topic and move on.

My wife tracked down this:  There is zero evidence so far of any COVID-19 transmission through food or food packaging.  (Via Serious Eats, showing citation as to source.)  None.  That’s per CDC, USDA, and the European Food Safety Authority.  So maybe quarantining your food for a day (below) is a bit over the top.  But if it makes you more comfortable, do it.

And then:

First, it looks like bonus pay for grocery store workers is a real thing, per this article about Cleveland.  So not just Wegmans (by rumor), but Giant Eagle by report.

Second, yes indeed, taking your re-usable shopping bags to the store is now officially a dumb thing to do.  Per this other article about Cleveland.  I felt like an ass about two seconds after I thoughtlessly handed mine to a clerk at Fresh Market (Post #565).  Avoid the embarrassment.  Do everybody a favor and if you shop, leave your bags at home.

Third, I’ve been seeing reports of sporadic availability of toilet paper.  It comes into the store (Costco gets several mentions, as do drug stores in preference to grocery stores), people line up, and the store rations it out.  Reports so far suggest orderly behavior.  Good to have tangible evidence that the supply chain remains intact.

Here’s picture from a friend of my wife’s, this AM, senior hour at the local Costco.  It’s the very definition of orderly social distancing.

Source:  Priscilla Marsh

Fourth, it looks like we may have a deliberate effort in place to speed up the transportation portion of the supply chain.  At least here in the Commonwealth.  Shelley drove to Richmond last night and reported that I-95 was a) wall-to-wall trucks, b) 90 MPH and up, c) trucks crammed like sardines into the truck stops, and d) zero police enforcement of speed limits.

Qualitatively different from her normal trip.  Tough to say whether that’s just business-as-usual, and she’d never noticed it before.  (She was traveling in the dead of night).  But by report, it was unusual.

I may be making this up, but to me that reads like a deliberate effort to speed up the supply chain.  Which makes perfect sense.

Finally, I’m planning a Safeway excursion for this Friday, and I thought I would summarize how I’m going to do it. So this is the condensed version of my post on grocery shopping etiquette.

Wash my hands, and take a) one sheet from the Sun Gazette, b) a couple of paper towels, ripped in half, c) a touch-screen stylus, and d) a piece of Saran wrap.  Use the newspaper as a disposable shopping cart handle cover.  Use the paper towels as disposable dairy case/frozen food case handle covers.  Use once, crumple, put in your pocket.  Use the stylus to avoid touching the touch screen (we’ll see if that works).  Use the Saran wrap to cover the scale when weighing produce.  Keep my distance from other shoppers and grocery store workers.  Only touch items that I am buying.  Pack the groceries in disposable plastic bags.  Wash hands immediately upon getting home.  Put the groceries away (or, optionally, let them sit for a day).  Wash hands again.  Wash the touch screen stylus.

Why don’t I just wear disposable gloves, in order to avoid touching certain surfaces in the store?  Well, gloves protect you if used properly, sure.  But they don’t stop you from spreading anything that ends up on your gloves.  And because I don’t see many people wearing disposable gloves at the grocery store, I thought it was a little more neighborly to use disposable paper products as indicated, rather than rely on gloves.  There’s certainly no barrier to using both.

Face mask optional.  That’s what the CDC says, and if there has been any source of good sense in the US, I’d say it has been the CDC.  You have to trust somebody.

Masked or unmasked, you’ll fit in either way.  I don’t even give a second look when I see somebody with a surgical mask on.