Striving for political balance in the grocery aisle

It was a Thursday, the day for my 5-percent senior citizen discount at Marketplace Foods. As I filled my cart, my mind wandered to a favorite subject — politics.


Yup, there it is again. That ever-pervasive subject that keeps trying to permeate our everyday lives. But at the risk of reinforcing that permeation, I’ll take you back to my cart filling. Beware, this column is packed with potential advertisements for brand names.

Politics, and its first cousin economics, seem to be growing as a part of everything from sports to popular culture. Whether that’s good or bad is in the eye or stomach of the beholder. Mostly, however, I think that ship sailed long ago. Political and economic ramifications are here to stay in our lives, like it or not.

I generally don’t like economic or political boycotts, where you cease buying something, or urge advertisers to quit hawking their products, based on the views of the product owners or TV pundits. But, I acknowledge, if the behavior is egregious enough, I might withhold my MasterCard.

I probably will never buy a My Pillow after witnessing the false advertising and post-election shenanigans of Mr. Pillow himself, Mike Lindell. Perhaps, I’ll never try the Goya Mexican food products because of CEO Robert Unanue’s right-wing leanings.

Then again, politics is probably not the main reason. My prime consideration is not that I fear that sleeping on Mike’s foam-piece pillows will induce nightmares of Donald Trump. There are simply better pillows on the market, my recently-purchased Home Goods version (that my wife stole), for instance.

As far as enchilada sauce and refried beans, I like La Preferida’s taste and price. Also, you gotta be careful how much of those beans you consume, for environmental reasons: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said leftists (I’m not one) need no beans since “their speeches and whining already produce all the gas the planet can take.”

Still, my mind wandered.

Do I really want those California avocados or grapes? What if they were picked by undocumented workers? Is that a good or bad thing?

Should my pocketbook outweigh my wont to buy local when I choose between that hunk of feedlot-stuffed beef vs. local grass-fed cattle?

North Dakota potatoes over Idaho Russets? Soft drinks relying on Red River Valley or Louisiana sugar over Illinois and Iowa corn syrup?

Blue-box Dakota Growers pasta over the bad old cheat-the-farmers Minneapolis brand?

Yeah, a lot of these choices are more local vs. not-local, but the resulting money spent or not spent has indisputable economic, and thus political ramifications.

Those political and moral preferences have been with us for centuries. I wonder if the Romans hesitated at buying goods from the Greeks once they saw that their rivals were competing in Olympic Games — naked. Or that the competitors were often covered in oil; what a culinary waste, the Romans must have thought. Eventually the two cultures must have reconciled to produce Greco-Roman wrestling.

A few decades ago, think of the consumers refusing to buy Florida orange juice because of its anti-Gay spokeswoman Anita Bryant. Conservatives do it too, sometimes. Witness the buycott over Starbucks’ intention to hire 10,000 refugees.

There once was a time when Pepsi was considered to be owned by Republicans, and Coca-Cola by Democrats. I used to primarily drink Pepsi, and for about 30 years now have preferred Coke. But not because of politics; I just started to prefer a less-sweet refreshment.

How are we to determine if the Coors brewers treat and pay their barley farmers better than Budweiser does theirs? My dad, who annually grew more barley than wheat, used to ban Budweiser from our house, because the Anheuser-Busch Commies included rice in their brewing process, diminishing the quality (he said) and the income of the all-American barley farmers.

By now, most readers are probably thinking: Good Lord, even if I wanted to, I don’t have time for this political guesswork in the grocery store. You want to get your 20 to 25 items and get in and out as fast as possible. I get enough politics on Cable TV.

Yeah, but you see, I’m retired — hence that 5 percent discount — and I’ve got plenty of time on my hands.

I guess, in most instances, I’ll continue to buy whatever tastes best and is cheapest. And just in case, I’ll achieve political balance when it’s easy to do. I’ll still take those 12-packs of blue-state Coke and red-state Mountain Dew.

And throw in a purple case of non-partisan Hires Root Beer.

Matt Gerszewski is a former city news editor and sports editor of the Minot Daily News.


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