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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Abundance (06/08/06)

TITLE: Paper or Plastic


For weeks I have been watching you, my new Russian daughter. I had heard stories about the overwhelm that Russians experience upon entering an American store for the first time. For weeks I have been prepared to explain to you the American lifestyle.

How strange then that the questions come not from you but from my other daughter. My Spanish daughter. “Why do you have so many kinds of bread in America? At my home we go to the bakery and we can buy three kinds of bread, white, wheat and rye. You have an entire aisle of only bread. How do you know which one to buy?”

I laugh and begin a dialogue about American consumerism that I am not prepared for. I thought I was, I expected it even, but how do you explain the difference between thin sliced,thick,sandwich sliced sliced and texas toast and whole wheat and cracked wheat, not to mention brand loyalty and packaging.

From bread we move on to salad dressing. I try to explain that the seven different kinds of Popular Name Brand Mayonaise are exactly the same, we just buy them for the packaging, glass verses plastic, plastic wide mouth verses squeeze bottle, jumbo size versus tiny versus family size, square versus round and on and on. Then on to generics or store brands.

“They look at me like I am crazy, you mean there is a brand that is almost always cheaper? Why doesn’t everyone just buy that one.”

Now is there a good answer to this I ask you reader? I can say that in some products there is a difference. The quality is not as high, but in most products the difference is minimal so why do we buy the name brands? We enter into a discussion of marketing and brand loyalty.

Our final decision, my two new daughters believe that the United States truly is the land of milk and honey, and I end up convinced that we have complicated our lives with pointless decisions like paper or plastic?

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This article has been read 471 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Janice Giesbrecht06/15/06
I appreciate the humourous way you bring out the truth of our North American over-abundance. You make us look foolish, and perhaps we really are. Great message.
Holly Howard06/15/06
I liked your story. I work in a grocery store. I straighten the shelves full of these products and I also bag the groceries and ask, "paper or plastic". So I had to laugh a little. We Americans are very spoiled. Thanks for sharing your perspective. Nicely written. MsHollyBear
Amy Nicholson06/16/06
We are so spoiled it's almost sinful. Thanks for the reminder.
Dave Kissling06/16/06
I've always thought there are way too many brand names in the store. I suppose if they took any out, someone would complain--but perhaps we need to stock only the basic items as they do in other countries. Seeing this through other national eyes really helps put it in perspective.
A. E. Cuthbert06/16/06
I love this! My husband is from Africa and I went through the same thing. What an interesting view of abudance.
Valerie Routhieaux06/18/06
I like this. You have a winning style. It can use some work, but none of us are perfect.

I like the way you describe abundance in the mundane way we do our grocery shopping.

Keep writing and sharing. This was wonderful.
George Parler 06/18/06
We are spoiled. Nice job of making a good point with the a little humor.
Lisa Vest06/19/06
It's amazing the new point of view children can give us (especially those new to America's abundance). Your article made me laugh. Just needs some sentence structure revisions and this would make a great piece to publish. Keep up the good work...I'm sure those girls will give you lots of material!
Lynda Schultz 06/21/06
How very true. What an excellent and convicting illustration.