My brother Pat and I ventured out to the supermarket yesterday. I’m down in the Wairarapa staying with him and partner Lynne for a few weeks. Although they have impressive vegetable gardens and orchards, we needed a few extra things. Like milk. And flour. And bread. Masterton supermarket had promised ‘wipes’ for the trolley handles and hand sanitiser for hands. I wondered whether food gloves might be a better option? Pat had some, so off we headed to shop. We didn’t see wipes or hand sanitiser by the trolleys –a small pack and bottle were there, but placed so discreetly, it was easy to miss them. And we missed them, but that didn’t matter as we had our secret weapon: allergy-free food gloves. We put them on. Pat could barely get a mitt in the ‘one size fits all’ first glove he tried so left the other hand gloveless. By turn, we held the trolley handle smugly, and trundled away as you do when out shopping. At least I did – Pat forgot and used both hands. Never mind. People looked but didn’t stare. No one wore masks. One couple asked about the gloves and thought it was a good idea. Well, actually, I told them about the gloves as they were peering at empty shelves, just to gauge reaction. We shopped, we paid, we returned to the car and removed the gloves. That was easy for me but hard for Pat who most likely had two fingers scrunched into one slot. I had a black bag and was wearing a black jumper. That was dumb. Within 3 seconds I was covered in white dusty powder from the gloves. My hands smelled bad and felt dry and dusty and we had created plastic waste that we now had to dispose of. The verdict: Would I wear plastic food gloves for shopping again? Nah, not worth it.
I think these tips might be more useful when shopping:
Keep your mouth closed and breathe through your nose as much as you can, especially if someone is coughing. Seriously. I have done this for years and I am sure it has kept me healthy.
Avoid touching your face with your hands. This needs training as we all do it on average 23 times an hour.
Shop early, or very late, and avoid busy periods.
Be more vigilant about washing fresh uncovered produce before consuming it. This should also include bagged salads – someone touched them somewhere along the line in their journey to you.
Put your shopping straight into your own shopping bags in the trolley because trolleys are rarely cleaned.
Use self-checkout lanes. This saves extra stranger-handling of your shopping, you will probably spend less time queueing, and you can be out in the fresh air faster.
Pay with cards rather than cash.
Wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you get home, before you unpack your shopping.
Put the shopping bags in the car or store them out of the kitchen once you’ve unpacked them.
Wipe down any surfaces the shopping bags touched in the kitchen.
Wash your hands again.
Pour yourself a stiff gin, out your feet up and hope for the best.
Here’s what we found, or didn’t find, on the supermarket shelves in Masterton.
There was no long-life milk, though the shelves were full of milk substitutes such as almond, oat and soy. Some packs had a short shelf life.
There was no fly spray, which was curious, food gloves had run out as had men’s deodorant. What’s going down in Masterton one wonders?
As expected there were no wipes and no hand sanitiser.
Vitamins had been cleaned out, though there was a bounty of vitamin-filled fresh fruit and vegetables. Canned tomatoes and rice were low. Canned beans were well picked over. Canned spaghetti was on special.
Sugar, eggs, butter, cheese, coffee and tea were all plentiful. But there was no flour. I repeat NO FLOUR of any kind (oh, there was a small bag of very pricey organic flour).
There were cabinets stocked high with meat, aisles of wine and beer, and, you guessed it, plenty of toilet paper. Go figure.