"No! Don't judge the contents of my trolley"


My grocery run is a highly-planned weekly event which involves a pro forma, typed shopping list neatly categorised into my local Woolies’ zones in order of entrance to exit. Sounds borderline obsessive-compulsive to some, but it is the only way to drive, park, shop for the week and drive home with two children in tow in under an hour. (I do also think the new Woolworths iPhone app stole my idea. But that aside.)

Said grocery run was performed with limited hiccups yesterday. My three-year-old rode willingly on the trolley sides. My eleven-month-old was content enough in the trolley seat with just his dummy and a bag of unopened chips to crackle. As I cheerily loaded my trolley items from the trolley onto the checkout conveyor belt, pleased with my efficiency, I noticed an overdressed-for-Woolies-woman (let’s call her Chanel) queued behind me with a basket hung on her elbow. Chanel was carefully perusing my items as I placed them to be scanned. Cue casual, self-conscious sideways glance.

I didn’t have any condoms, pads or pregnancy tests in my loot. Nothing to hide.

But then I got to the copious amounts of squeezable baby food. Oh. Right. This was worse than condoms, pads or pregnancy tests.

The baby food in question is organic and contains “+ nothing else”. Notwithstanding that, I felt a compulsion to point and shout “MAN WITH A GUN!” so I could sweep said baby food behind the big box of laundry powder so that no one would ever know. I didn’t though. I was, instead, interrupted with “You should give your baby real food. You’re just like my sister”. Just like your sister? Huh? Do I know you? Clearly sister chooses wholesome food for baby too.

I didn’t have a comeback. ‘Heh’ I politely grunted (there is such a thing) as I shifted to cover the Tim Tams, cake mix, aioli and avocados. I wasn’t sure if a stranger weighing in on my grocery trolley was what made me uncomfortable or whether it was the fact that pre-mashed organic, baby food was somehow a bad parenting decision. Or was it because I was now Chanel’s sister?

As I casually placed an open hand on a packet of cashew nuts (100% fat), lots of great comeback lines stormed my brain but none came out. It got me wondering whether baby food really is the unspoken indulgence simply because it is made for you. But hang on, that would make bread, pasta sauce and yoghurt an indulgence too. They are all made, bottled, bagged and sealed for convenience. Surely baby food falls into the same category. Why is it, then, that women chastise other women for feeding it to their babies?

I have continued and will continue to feed my baby store-bought baby food as a part of his well-rounded diet (which includes homemade puree by the way). But next time I get checked out at the checkout, I will be ready for anything. Just after I coolly conceal the tin of Lindt hot chocolate flakes.

Sherika is the legal editor of a suite of family law publications for lawyers. Sherika also manages and writes for fashion and beauty site Style Bungalow. You can read some of Sherika’s work here and here.

Do you, even inadvertently, judge people by the contents of their trolley?

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