Lies We Tell Ourselves.


The other day, walking around the block to visit my local Trader Joes near the temp office in Culver City, I joined a march of other workers, pouring out of their cubicles, and onto the sunny streets to pick up something to eat.

Surveying the refrigerated salads, I laid my eyes upon a multitude of plastic containers. There were so many types: goat cheese and red beets; pears, gorgonzola, walnut; Chinese Chicken; Caesar; Spinach with red onions; Feta cheese, Arugala with raspberry Vinagrette. I picked up some sexless and aging bulgar wheat combination with shriveled up tomatoes and dried peas.

I walked with this sad little salad into another aisle. I looked at it and imagined peeling the plastic wrap away and sticking the little plastic fork into the dish. Maybe I would eat it in the homeless people’s park across the street, the one without any benches or garbage cans, where speeding trucks rumble on by on Venice Blvd. Yuck!

And then I turned back and threw the bulgar wheat salad back into the bin.

These salads don’t taste good. They don’t taste fresh. They aren’t filling. They don’t satisfy. And when you are done, you want to eat a box of Oreos or go to In and Out Burger and consume a cheeseburger. Then why do so many lunch losers (myself included) flock to the Trader Joe’s salad? Maybe it’s a character flaw.

Modern life becomes a series of compromises, made livable by continual self-deception. We tell ourselves it’s OK to eat crappy salads because they are cheap and allegedly more healthy. But why eat if we don’t enjoy what we eat?

There are great things to eat at Trader Joes, or so we think, because they are marketed to people like us who want balsamic vinegar or fresh roasted coffee and we don’t want to be ripped off.

Like yoga, iTunes, text messaging, iced low fat milk coffee and masturbation, certain behaviors are indulged in, without thought, by large portions of the population in Los Angeles. Going to Trader Joes is almost habitual and sub-conscious. But are these activities really satisfying, or are they merely substitutes for something we really crave and need?

Yet we march, quite a few days a week, through Trader Joes and we buy the same lackluster produce, pre-packaged salads, and generic potato chips because we don’t have the imagination, energy or initiative to shop elsewhere and prepare truly good tasting food. The lazy and lying part of our character makes possible the big profits at TJ’s and we can pat ourselves on our environmentally correct backs for shopping there.

4 thoughts on “Lies We Tell Ourselves.

  1. A very good post, Andy. I confess I sometimes indulge in things only because of a “lazy and lying part” of my character. Starbucks comes to mind. But oddly, I’ve recently come to resent Starbucks for the way the chain takes its customers for granted.

    I work one block from tons of restaurants, but I’d be very happy to find a restaurant or market that sells relatively fresh food that is not heavily salted or processed. Something that is not just “organic” but happens to be laden with fat and salt.

  2. I used to shop at the TJs on Riverside Dr. across from Bloomingdale’s, and now only very occasionally. Just nothing of interest. The wine is awful, especially that produced by Bronco/Franzia(aka 2-buck***k), the produce not worth even looking through, except maybe the bananas, flowers are more than day-old, and nearly every condiment/sauce has so much sugar, sodium or both that they are inedible.
    As to the salads, go the salad bar at Gelson’s and just put olive oil on it. Not a bad lunch for around $4 or so, yet not overly convenient to downtown CC I realize.

  3. Have you read the recent New Yorker article about 2-buck chuck and its bottler’s tactics? (from about 3 weeks ago I think)

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