Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Tuesday I post a new column.
When I’m at the supermarket, I shop as if I were living through the Great Depression. Chef Boyardee for 99 cents? Never! The generic brand is 94 cents! Diet Coke? Never! I’ll get Diet RC Cola – which has the slightest taste of dental filling paste – for 30 cents less per case.
I purchase my breakfast cereal in gigantic horsefeeder-sized bags. If there was an illegal immigrant sitting at a card table outside the supermarket, selling even cheaper bags of cereal that were obviously pulled out of a dumpster, I’d probably buy those instead.
I blame my parents for this. From a young age, they planted this idea in my head that buying inferior products is worth the miniscule amount of savings. Didn’t I go to college so I wouldn’t have to eat generic cheese? “It all adds up!” my parents always say. Never mind that it only adds up to 30 cents each shopping trip. Since it all adds up, why don’t I start working nights and weekends in a Chinese sweatshop?
The generic brand of spaghetti sauce I bought the other day was so cheap that the label fell off during the drive home from the supermarket. Now it’s literally as generic as can be: Just a glass jar full of sauce. I actually like it better this way. It looks nicer and also gives the false impression that I made it myself. I’m going to remove the labels from all my food products, so everything in my kitchen will appear to be homemade.
“What is this?” my friends will ask. “Did you make this?”
“What, you buy food?” I’ll say. “This jar of watery spaghetti sauce is homemade.”
“It looks like Ragu.”
“You look like Ragu.”
Notice the great comeback I used to zing him. If my real life conversations were half as great as these imaginary ones, I’d be quite the catch.
I’m fully dedicated to the process of turning my kitchen into a cleverly-constructed lie. I’ve removed the labels from all jars and canned goods, and I’m working on peeling the stickers off my gallon jug of milk. If all goes as planned, each shopping trip I make will force me to spend an additional two hours removing corporate markings from my groceries.
I’ll have my kitchen looking like an 1880s homestead in no time. I want it to look like I took a wife and forced her to spend six months of the year canning preserves. “Thanks for harvesting and canning all that mini ravioli we grew in the backyard, hon!”
In addition to cans of soup, fruit cocktail, beefaroni, and cranberry sauce, I also plan to can/preserve the following items: Butter, Sunny Delight, ketchup, cookies, diabetes medication, heroin, and cologne. I will also take one empty can, seal it, and write “vegetables” on it with a marker, so my mom will think I eat right when she comes to visit. Every time mom and dad vacation here, I’ll trot out the fake can of vegetables for show. I could do this with a real can of vegetables, but what’s the use in buying something you’re never going to eat?
In all seriousness, I’d advise everyone to try removing the labels from their store-bought jars and cans. It’s an interesting feeling to not be constantly surrounded by advertising. Coincidentally, it’s also an interesting feeling to have no clue what the hell is in any of your jars or cans. But hey, for canning enthusiasts, excitement is excitement no matter where it comes from.