The Art of Bagging Groceries Has Gone the Way of the Dinosaurs

Kat - Longmont, Colorado
Entered on January 1, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe that the art of bagging groceries well has gone the way of the dinosaurs, along with customer service representatives who actually work at the company I’m calling, and cashiers who wait until I put my wallet away before ringing up the next order.

Time was baggers took pride in assuring that our hard-earned groceries arrived home intact. I once actually called my supermarket and asked the manager to find the person who bagged my order and thank him. It was a huge order, maybe eight or nine bags worth, yet everything survived: eggs were unbroken, peaches un-bruised, and bread had the shape of, well, bread without the impression of a cantaloupe. There is a logical art to bagging food and veteran baggers know it. It seems anymore, though, that grocery shopping is so rushed that little attention is paid to how the food will survive the trip home.

Then there’s the issue of the bags themselves. Plastic bags split and collapse if packed improperly. Paper bags, originally called “automatic paper bags” because they’re free-standing, are strong and very ergonomic. But for the sake of resource conservation, I’ve taken my own canvas bags to market for thirty-some years now, and if I don’t monitor the bagger I’ll end up with one or two bags that weigh a bloody ton.

However, this I do believe: The art of bagging groceries could be rehabilitated, given a little thought, logic and compassion. I humbly offer these suggestions to baggers everywhere:

1. Repeat this mantra over and over until you believe it in your heart: Bananas ALWAYS go on top! The same goes for bread, peaches, plums, apricots and tomatoes (no matter how rock-hard those hot-house monstrosities may be!) Heavier produce like apples, melons, and onions can go at the bottom so long as what goes on top is lightweight. Yes, onions bruise.

2. Canvas and plastic bags will collapse in on themselves in transport. Anything heavy placed next to a bag of peaches is going to create peach compost by the time it gets home. Take advantage of stabile packages that provide support as well as protection, like toilet paper and cereal boxes.

3. Regardless of size, DO NOT fill canvas bags with every can and glass bottle in the order. Just because the bag is strong doesn’t mean that I am! I’d rather take multiple trips to my kitchen with light bags than try to lug one so weighed down that I need two arms to lift it and the services of my chiropractor afterwards! Give a thought to our shoulders and backs by distributing the groceries. Place harder stuff at the bottom and graduate lighter stuff up to the top so that every bag is easily lifted.

In return for these considerations, I promise to always return my shopping to its rack in the parking lot when I’m done.

Now, repeat: Bananas ALWAYS go on top!