Why I Hate Supermarkets

(This ranting may be habit-forming!) When I briefly joined the noble fraternity of greengrocers many years ago, it was customary, especially on the trays of peaches, to display signs saying, ‘Do not squeeze me until I’m yours,’ a stern admonishment leavened with a modicum of humour which seemed to have the desired effect.

The modern supermarket is an entirely different matter. I cannot go into my local Waitrose without seeing women (I can assure you that it is always women) with fists the size of ham hocks and, judging from the results, biceps like Popeye’s after he’s been at the spinach, sticking their fat and stubby thumbs into the necks of avocados with the relish of a psychopath throttling a victim. Anyone who has a clue about such matters knows that only the gentlest touch is necessary to test the ripeness of the flesh but these oafish haridans wreak such havoc upon the innocent fruit that it is almost impossible to buy one which is not black and blue from their depredations. Part of the blame for this lies with Waitrose and other supermarkets for labelling as ‘perfectly ripe’ various fruit which are often hard enough to prise open packing cases or hammer nails into brick walls.

The flimsy plastic bags supplied by supermarkets to contain loose items are another cause for concern. I don’t use them myself because I am worried about the environmental impact, but they are extremely difficult to open and I have seen people licking their fingers to help open them and then put their saliva-drenched hands into the loose tomatoes. I have also seen staff in another supermarket lick their fingers before opening plastic bags. These practices are extremely unhygienic. Perhaps we should all just swap blood and get it over with.

Another frustrating aspect of supermarket shopping is their insistence in pandering to the lowest possible taste. A sad example of this is the treatment of purple spouting broccoli, one of the finest vegetables ever to adorn the dinner table. Both the flowering heads and the leaves are flavoursome and nutritious but Waitrose and other supermarkets insist on providing only ‘spears’, which is to say flower heads at the end of half a foot of woody stalk carefully denuded of most of its foliage. Not only is 90% of what you have bought inedible but you are denied the pleasure of eating the delicious leaves. I hate to think what happens to them. They’re probably fed to pigs (lucky pigs!) or composted.
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