The story for my blog this week is inspired by the family profiled in the documentary Food Inc.
As I approach the enormous Walmart Super Center, my younger sister Claudia clutching my hand and my mother and father walking in front of us, I get an uneasy feeling in my stomach. These trips to the grocery store never ended well. Last week I spent the whole car ride home listening to my parents scream at each other while Claudia sobbed in her car seat next to me. I am doubtful this trip would end any better.
We walk inside the store and our first stop is the produce section. A few months ago we found out my father was diagnosed with diabetes and my mother started freaking out about the family starting to eat more healthy foods. Honestly, I haven’t seen much improvement in our diets, but I know she’s really trying. She just cares so much about Claudia and me and it pains me to see the look on her face every time we are forced to pull up to the drive thru window at McDonalds.
But as we walk through the produce section at Walmart, my mother’s face lights up with joy. “Tomatoes are on sale this week!” she yells with pure joy. She quickly hurries over and starts piling the bright red tomatoes into a clear bag. I see my father shake his head and he walks over to her. He whispers something in her ear and suddenly my mother’s smile disappears. She puts half of the tomatoes back and places the rest in the shopping cart. Then she pulls her small calculator out of her purse and starts typing furiously. That calculator never has good news for us when we are here.
We continue our way through the aisles and I hear Claudia yell from her seat in the shopping cart, “Peaches! Peaches!” My parents take one look at the price and just keep walking. Claudia looks heartbroken and I say to her with a big smile on my face, “don’t worry Claudia, we can get them next time!” It pains me to lie to her like this, but I’d rather her stay her young and ignorant self as long as she can.
By the time we make it to the checkout aisle the contents of our cart consist of a bag of two tomatoes, a big box of Claudia’s favorite sugary cereal, and an assortment of frozen dinners. Looks pretty typical to me. It’s already 9pm by the time we leave Walmart. My father heads straight for the McDonalds up the road for dinner. I see Claudia sleeping next to me in her car seat and my parents are yelling about bills or rent or something in front of me. I wonder if things will ever get better. I wonder if my mom will ever be able to buy all of the vegetables she wants. And I wonder how things got like this in the first place…