Grocery Cart of Poison

This is a real candid photo taken by Dave when we were at our neighborhood grocery store this weekend. That little kid was completely surrounded by sugary, salty, corn-infused junk food. I almost said something to the woman loading the cart about fresh vegetables, but then I realized she was buying food that matched a stash of coupons, and my rage was drowned in compassion.

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  • erikajeanne says:

    ugh. seeing stuff like this makes me so sad. subsidizing the corn and soy industries in this country was the worst thing to ever happen in regards to the health of our nation.

  • Meghan says:

    this makes me so sad and so angry.

  • Steph H says:

    Although you saw coupons – she probably could save more money not using them and buying fresh foods. The contents of that cart is beyond reprehensible… I like to look at carts while I am at the grocery store and constantly see this and it makes me mad. A few things here and there is one thing, but that cart is filled the brim with crap but sadly that's the norm.

  • Barbara says:

    Buying crud is cheaper than buying health, and easier to do. Sad times my friend.

  • Erica says:

    I read your blog often, and usually enjoy it, but I find this post really offensive. Though you say at the end that you ended up feeling "compassionate" for her, that didn't stop you from posting a picture of her food choices and her CHILD on the internet. Junk food culture and poverty are so inextricably linked in our country, and people don't always have the luxury of thinking deeply about quality nutrients- they are just trying to live the best they know how. I find your moral judgement to be quite lacking in compassion and posting pics of her food and her kid is definitely not okay.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Erica –> I'm so glad you posted your comment. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    I decided to post this photo because I think it clearly illustrates a problem that all of us need to take to heart — and to work on, even if it's only in a small way. For me, personally, that means talking to my relatives about what they feed their kids and making sure that in our house, we eat as responsibly as we can most of the time.

    I'm very glad that the photo is blurry so we can't clearly see either the woman or the child; I wouldn't have posted it otherwise. This is a universal image.

    I went through a wide range of emotions when I saw this in the store. First, honestly, before I saw what the food was, I thought it was cute. In that split-second of first seeing it, I thought, "Oh! Look! That little kid is totally surrounded by food."

    Then when I saw that it was junk food, I was really angry. "How can she be buying all the crap for her kid?!"

    Then I saw the coupons and realized I needed to get off my holier-than-thou horse and recognize that there are economic factors and ignorance of good habits at play in many peoples' lives. It made me sad, really.

    I stopped judging that woman right then, and my posting of this photo wasn't a judgment of her. It was meant to be illustrative of the awareness and obesity crisis we face in this country.

    As a reformed poor eater and overweight person, I don't want to forget how difficult it was (and still can be) to change my understanding, my outlook, and my habits. I posted this picture to inspire my readers to think about these issues and to spur dialogue exactly like the one you started.

    I hope you'll continue to read my blog and keep calling me on stuff with which you disagree.

  • erikajeanne says:

    The obesity-poverty link has been ignored by many in the health debate, and I think this post directly addresses the catch-22 millions of American families find themselves in every single day.

    Erica, I understand your anger with Mel's posting of a woman with her child and any subsequent judgment that would fall upon her. However, I do not believe there is much in the way of judgment as much as there is deep sadness. Healthy food is simply not accessible. Families shouldn't have to feed each other off a dollar menu because vegetables are too expensive. Mothers and fathers shouldn't have to work 15 hour shifts and be incapable of fixing a healthy meal for their families.

    Thank you for starting this dialogue. I hope that more people will begin to discuss the very real and dire situation that millions of Americans are in. Healthcare AND quality food WITH quality education should be accessible for EVERYONE.

  • Erica says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for your thoughtful response. It's the best kind of dialogue I could have hoped for when I left my comment. I am also a reformed poor eater/fat kid and my mother fed me much the same way this mother seems to be feeding her kid…which is part of the reason I got so defensive about it. I know that moms usually are just doing the best that they can. I'm glad that you recognized that, and your own struggle as well, and as you said, got off your "holier than thou" horse. Some people definitely don't, and are really elitist when it comes to their stellar fitness habits. That bugs the crap out of me and I'm glad you're not one of those people.

    I look forward to your future blog entries.

  • Anniebug, bugger or BUG. says:

    This is one of your best posts to date.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Thanks, Anniebug! It's really great to hear feedback from all of you… I'm never sure which of the outward expressions of my inner monologue will hit the mark. And I love hearing y'all's perspective.

  • erikajeanne says:

    Check out this grassroots movement to get fresh produce into Detroit. Many people do not realize inner cities lack standard grocery stores. When I was in Michigan last year, both Lansing and Detroit had an overabundance of fast food, convenience stores and liquor stores, but grocery stores were located far from city centers. Their public transpo system is abysmal, so where do you think they go to get food? Exactly…. ugh.