Online Grocery Shopping: The Incredible Sloth of Being

By
March 2, 2006

Jennifer “Jay” Poole

The upside of the Internet: You never have to leave your house

The downside of the Internet: You never leave your house because you never have to.

Banking online is a definite plus, especially for us procrastinators. Ordering gifts, textbooks, cheap electronics and obscure comic books online, also cool. Ordering specialty gourmet items online like Omaha steaks or chocolate truffles or Maine lobster-go for it.

But for some reason I have a minor problem with ordering groceries online. I understand that some people don't have the time to go shopping, and that extracting children from the cereal aisle is not what one would call "fun." I also understand that some people really, really hate the grocery store with a burning passion.

In my research for this column (and by research I mean "my excuse for wasting time online") I am going to order myself some groceries. I need to figure out why people like this. I need to increase my sloth factor. A world of grocery choices is about to open up to me.

But first I need to register.

Name, username, password-you know the drill. E-mail address, e-mail preferences (No, do not send me e-mail. Though this does raise the question, what happens when you get Spam spam?) Gender (WHY?) and age.

Next, the friendly Terms and Conditions. "If Albertons accepts your order, Albertons shall, in return for your payment, provide the Product which you order through the online shopping service."

So somewhere out there, there is an Albertsons Nazi (the Soup Nazi's little brother?) who decides whether or not to accept my humble order?

Okay. I can handle that.

I want … bananas (B-A-N-A-N-A-S). On Albertsons.com, I have 4 banana choices. Bananas yellow, bananas nino, bananas organic and bananas plantains. I cannot touch them, I cannot smell these cyberbananas I'm about to choose. I don't know for sure if these are my preferred bananas-I suppose I just have to trust the grocery gnomes to pick the right ones for me. But do they know I like my bananas a little green? Is there a way to tell them?

Hm.

The menu is a little funny, especially alphabetically. For instance, "lice treatment" comes between "lettuce" and "licorice." And if you wanted turkey jerky, you'd look for "jerky, turkey." Now say that five times fast. And chant it like a mantra as I navigate to my jerky choices list.

I have 26 jerky options. I don't even like jerky.

I've been at this for 30 minutes including registration and I'm already worried about the bananas I'm going to get, and deeply concerned by the sheer number of jerky options.

Okay. Soy. Let's look for soy. I'm going to use the search function, which returns me … 89 total products. And 19 of them are for soy sauce, and 39 are for non-dairy milk.

I assumed that this would include almond milk and rice milk, but I am wrong. I have 39 soy milk options.

Hooooboy.

I am confronted with a plethora of options and a deficit of actual information. I can't flip the boxes over and pace undecidedly in the aisle. I can't impulse-shop. I can't even look at the calorie count (let's pretend I do to begin with).

I suppose if you knew exactly what you wanted, this could be a real time-saver; if you weren't particularly picky about your produce or meat it sounds like a good deal. But for most students, I'd recommend against it.

Plus, when you live on campus, grocery shopping can feel like a road trip.

So as midterms torment you with the jaws that bite and claws that catch, and you're feeling your sloth factor skyrocket to the point where ordering a pizza online seems okay, do what I do.

Take your laptop outside.


Online Grocery Shopping: The Incredible Sloth of Being was published on March 2, 2006 in News

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