Alternative shopping celery is the new shoes

Alternative shopping pleasures : celery are the new shoesShopping is fun, but morally it's a problem. But if you outsmart yourself, you'll find happiness just around the corner – in the supermarket.

Alternative shopping delights celery are the new shoes

Everything so beautifully green here! Photo: Massimo Giovannini/plainpicture

Advertising lurks around every corner. Whether it's shampoo with a hemp scent, a cruise through the Baltic Sea, turquoise socks with a banana peel pattern or Muppets wearing second-hand clothes on a catwalk – we are supposed to consume and feel happy in the process. Even monogamy can be bought, at least you can try it by signing up for the premium subscription at Parship.

At the same time we are aware that consumption is not the solution. But rather creates problems. Be it the destruction of ecosystems by mountains of garbage, emission of harmful gases and chemicals. Or the exploitation of workers and the endangerment of their health. Whether it's a diamond or an iPhone – there's probably blood on both. But because the blood has been carefully wiped off beforehand, we consumers only see the shiny end product.

Scientists are not even in agreement about which substances are released during consumption. The neurologist Christian Elger explains to the taz that an investigation of this kind is difficult to carry out, because it always needs a comparison. "Consumption itself could only be set against non-consumption, which is difficult to implement experimentally," he explains.

A few things are nevertheless clear: "If I buy a loaf of bread because I have to have something to eat, that's completely different from buying my third pair of pants," says the scientist, and: "Every consumption that goes beyond what is necessary is subject to selection criteria that are individual. It satisfies the human reward system."

If only doing without would be fun

Put more simply: spending money is fun – the feeling of receiving a new shopping bag with freshly consumed goods, even if it's just cheap jewelry, is inspiring. And this fun factor lets the exploitative market boom. At the same time, of course, we want to be responsible for as little suffering as possible. And this dualism makes life complicated – mine, anyway. I don't want to drag a gray cloud of shame behind me with every step I take on the shopping mall.

"If I buy a loaf of bread because I have to eat something, that's completely different from buying my third pair of pants"

The optimal solution would be renunciation. So the attempt to suppress the urge to consume until it hopefully disappears by itself at some point. The only question is whether this is so easy to implement. If cravings were so easy to remove from life, there wouldn't be so many cigarette butts on German streets.

Another option, which I have now come to, is to change the object of desire. Away from jewelry, fancy goods and shoes to – the supermarket. Because I am not able to fish my own fish or grow vegetables on my non-existent balcony. There is no escape from food consumption for me. Why then not combine duty with pleasure?

Peace and joy late at night in Aldi

If I take a lot of time and rest with me, the walk to the next Rewe or Aldi after work has something highly relaxing about it. Already in the entrance area, colorful fruits and vegetables jump out at me.

Additionally, a supermarket like this is properly brightly lit – some might say garish, but there's no accounting for taste, and I'll always prefer a clean-looking store illuminated to the back shelf to a dark, dingy one. For the lights give me pleasure. You are the spotlight of the fresh assortment. Here, every raspberry and every corncob is put on the presentation plate. The visuals alone are a pleasure.

I can spend endless time in an average German supermarket. Not because I have not written myself a shopping list in advance and am constantly wandering about because of forgotten things. But because the product selection is so wide that I have to – or am allowed to – listen to my needs. Then I stand for minutes in front of the fruit shelf and consider whether I would rather eat pomelo with coconut milk or pear with vanilla ice cream.

Listen to your gut feeling

If I want to treat myself to something as a reward for the week, I sometimes go to the cheese counter in a more upscale store. There, I taste my way through the samples and chat with the cheese saleswoman about my needs – after which she makes the selection for me. It always comes down to a hard cheese, perhaps a strong Gruyère or a spicy Parmesan.

taz at the weekend

From the Allgau to the Oderbruch, landscapes have been created and maintained by man for centuries. But cultural landscapes are under prere – in the taz am wochenende from 30. April./1. May 2022. Besides, raving is teenybopper stuff? No way! An expertise. And: In 2014, Tarek Saad fled from Syria to Schleswig-Holstein. There, he now wants to become the first member of the state parliament for the SPD with a direct history of flight. Starting Saturday at the newsstand, in the eKiosk, in the convenient weekend subscription and around the clock on Facebook and Twitter.

I spend a similar amount of time in front of the long shelf with the countless varieties of tea. While at Christmas time I reach directly for the fruit tea with speculoos flavor or cinnamon-turmeric without much hesitation, in spring I'm often overwhelmed by the assortment. Would I rather have ginger orange or chili with licorice? It's almost like summer clothes: I just want it all!

Of course, the food industry is far from being exempt from criticism of consumption and capitalism. There's the food waste. It would be good if the industry would take measures to reduce food waste in production and processing – however, the majority of food waste actually occurs in private households. So shopping thoughtfully and consciously helps.

Better GEPA than Ferrero

That also applies elsewhere. It starts with being clear about which companies are worth supporting – or not. As much as the kids are clamoring for it, it's worth keeping in mind that Nestle candy bars are not famous for helping to sustain the planet. Maybe I'd rather do without avocado in order to curb global water consumption. And reach for Fairtrade coffee, so as not to encourage low-wage plantation labor.

But all these considerations can be included in the supermarket shopping surrogate experience I have described. And already the bad conscience, which one has elsewhere, remains somehow away, if one leaves the business with three full purchase bags. Because you have to eat. Because there is no other way. At least not yet.

And as long as it stays that way, I like to go to my favorite Rewe after work. With music playing on my ears, I bounce through the shelves, delighting in the latest variety of oat milk or pondering which noodles I want to cook up for dinner. And then there are the little bonus pleasures of life that a supermarket can offer: a bouquet of flowers at the checkout or the treasures in the confectionery department, both of which are always different depending on the season. If you also want to be transported back to the fun of childhood, you are in good hands at the self-service checkout with a hand scanner.

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