Buyer beware

There have been some startling reports of late from friends who’ve had surprises when returning from the grocery store with food. The friends shall remain nameless to protect their identities from possible irate food mega-giants.

6-25 Page 4A.inddIncident number one was reported and witnessed by at least a dozen people at a Christmas celebration. It was witnessed by all but noticed by just a few as they were, as usual, busy talking and eating,

Here’s what happened. A can of peaches and a jar of mincemeat were brought into a kitchen in a bag from the grocery store. The peaches were labeled as peach halves. There was a picture on the can of a glistening, juicy, ripe peach halve. I saw this with my own eyes.

The can was opened, and when the peaches were emptied into a bowl, we all saw peach slices, not peach halves.

We were stunned. We examined the label. There was no mistake. It’s hard to fill peach halves with mincemeat when there are no halves. Challenging as the assignment was, the slices were topped with a dollop of mincemeat before going under the broiler.

Incident number two was reported by another friend who has found a novel way to address the problem. This friend bought a bag of pecans labeled as new crop and took them home to use in a pie. When the bag was opened and the nuts were tasted, it was found that they were not new crop pecans at all. They were stale pecans from the previous year.

For those who don’t know, all you have to do is bite into a pecan to taste the flavor. Old pecans are not good at all, and certainly not something you’d put into a pecan pie. The friend who experienced this unfortunate occurrence filed it away and developed a strategy to address the problem.

The next bag of pecans picked up at the store were not paid for until they were opened and went through a taste test involving the friend and the cashier at checkout.

“I told the girl about what had happened before and said I wasn’t going to buy them until I knew they were good. So I said, ‘You eat one. You decide.’ And I ate one, too.”

This particular bag of nuts passed the test.

Many things can be accomplished once people get over caring about what other people think. This method of checking before leaving the store could get complicated if we had to open every can of peaches to find one with actual peach halves, but it would probably be more satisfying to the customer than going home with a mislabeled can and discovering the mistake once there. I suppose a person could wind up in jail, but as they say, “No pain, no gain.”

Incident number three involved another friend who bought a pack of sunflower seeds to put into a salad for the Christmas celebration. When she opened the package at home it was discovered the sunflower seeds were rancid. It was too late to return them, as she needed the dish for the party, so she left them out of the dish and threw them into the trash.

I’m seeing a pattern here. But I don’t know what to call it. There were three different food companies involved in this. Perhaps a conspiracy is afoot. Maybe it’s time to call in “60 Minutes.” They’re the only ones out there who might be able to get to the bottom of the matter. In the meantime, beware. Clearly they’re out to get us.