I’ll admit I’ve had Cart Envy. The other day while shopping I gazed into this man’s shopping cart and his food choices were well, enviable. He was on the phone chatting away with presumably his wife, asking questions like: “Organic Bosc or Anjou pears?” tossing her selections into his cart already brimming with organic fruits and veggies, grass-fed lean cuts of meat, and brown rice and quinoa. Even his beer was microbrewed and organic. After he finished with produce, he adjusted his baseball hat and rushed off to the gluten-free aisle taking his goods with him leaving me gazing after his cart like an abandoned lover standing at the dock while the ship sails away. Oh sigh, it was a cart to be envied.
On average, my cart is not bad. It’s stuffed full of chia seeds for our dairy-free yogurt, tofu and organic broccoli (often in a bag because who has time to cook ?)—but it’s usually not enviable like baseball hat guy’s cart loaded with superfoods, some I don’t even know how to pronounce let alone prepare. He was rocking his shopping cart. Even as an extreme label reader, there’s still some processed foods in my cart, namely snacks.
I have kids and yes, we eat veggie chips. And sometimes…worse…
Although we never want to be jealous of anyone else—I’m on my path, guy with the rockin’ shopping cart is on his—I figure Cart Envy is okay. It’s fun to see what someone else is buying and spurs us to want to eat better, and who knows? Maybe someday I’ll learn what the heck to do with Rambutan (fruit) or Arame (a type of kelp).
But the dark side of Cart Envy is judgment. (Isn’t judgment the dark side of everything?) She’s eating that? Or: Who would feed their kids that junk! And judgment is something I experienced just the other day while shopping at Trader Joe’s. At the register I was talking to the salesperson as I always do, and she was commenting on my healthy food choices. (Grin! But truthfully, it’s hard to go wrong at Trader Joe’s.) She chatted away through pounds of organic apples and blocks of almond milk cheese, but when she came to my two bags of pre-washed butter lettuce she nearly gagged on her organic elderberry cough drop.
“Butter lettuce?” She placed a hand to her heart, gasping.
“Yes!” I chirped. “It’s delicious! Have you ever tried it?”
“Oh no.” She quickly scanned the two offensive bags pushing them out of her line of vision. “I don’t eat lettuce that has no nutritional value.”
Damn. There I was, reveling in the glow of a shopping trip mastered, my cart stuffed with healthy choices, and I was shot down, just like that. Bet that guy in the baseball hat talking to his wife wasn’t buying butter lettuce. What was wrong with me?
“Well, my girls like it.” I countered quickly.
“Children?” She shook her head. “Every bite counts.”
I nodded to the bag of “Cruciferous Crunch” she was about to ring up. (If you’ve never tried it, it’s delicious.) “We sprinkle Cruciferous Crunch on top!”
She nodded sadly. “That’s something.”
We finished the rest of my order in silence. All the way home I fought the desire to rush to the nearest drive-through to buy us all a dinner of greasy fries made with saturated fat and non-grass fed burgers.
After all, if I could feed my kids butter lettuce, well then, what else was I capable of?
Of course the incident at Trader Joe’s was humorous. Of course judgment of any kind is wrong. Of course we should strive to feed our families–and ourselves–as healthily as possible. But we should also cut ourselves some slack. Butter lettuce is really not the food of the devil. And neither is…brace yourself…iceberg. As a matter of fact, eating right doesn’t require that much thought. If you’re trying to eat right, chances are, you’re making some smart choices.
And that’s all we can do—in all aspects of our lives—our best. Even if it means we eat butter lettuce.
And as far as Cart Envy goes? Go ahead, take a peek. As long as we’re not judging, a tiny glance into our neighbor’s cart to salivate over her fixings for garbanzo bean and organic kale salad never hurt anyone. Besides, remember next week, that cart could be yours…