Supermarket Sweep: Rachael Ray Spotted in Gristede's Impersonating a Chicken

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How hard can it be to boil eggs? Some customers prefer to have it done for them.

What with buying food at farmers markets, cheese shops, butchers, and specialty grocery stores, it's rare for me to step inside a supermarket. When I do, it's usually to buy staples like baking soda and toilet paper, then get the hell out. Well, last weekend, I took a cruise through the Gristede's at Sheraton Square. The place was labyrinthine, and I was surprised by some of the products I found. The Age of Foodism has had a profound effect on the neighborhood supermarket--but not always in the ways you might have expected.

The boiled eggs weirded me out. Is it worth paying twice as much to buy your eggs peeled? It also means that your eggs have been unprotected by the shell for an indeterminate amount of time, and that the very provenance of the eggs is uncertain. I was also amazed at the growth of processed vegetarian foods, with many shelves devoted to vegetarian hot dogs (with ingredient lists as long as your arm), vegetarian barbecue, and fat-free processed American cheese repackaged to seem like health food. The cheese was oddly touted as "All Veggie," and "Melts Great!" I'll bet.

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Meat simulacra proliferate in the aisles, for vegetarians who want their vegetables to look like meat.

Supermarkets are still all about convenience. Not only the convenience of doing all your shopping in one place, but also the convenience provided by processed foods. As I stood in the checkout line, most people had at least one or two frozen meals, and a whole slew of processed foods of one sort or another. A few seemed to be health-food shoppers, their carts filled with low-fat this and high fiber that, along with processed foods that touted high levels of omega fatty acids, promised to improve your brain power, or made other spurious health claims. In fact, there seemed to be a pharmaceutical bent to many of the products.

Next: More semi-frightening products

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