Over on the right side of the building (that would be the south side, since the front faces west), they take a bunch of food and just dump it on shelves. I have been witness to this phenomenon for several years now and am still trying to figure it out. They wheel the food from the back. It comes in boxes. Most of this food is not in any sort of packaging. Some employee, usually a teenager, puts the food directly on a different wooden box. Why they even bothered doing that work when they could have just set the original box on the shelf is beyond me.
It's sort of like walking into a thrift shop looking for bargain slacks. You never actually know what you are going to get in this section of the store and you really have to hunt for your items. (Unsurprisingly, the thrift shops around here have horrible supplies of triathlon-related apparel.) Up until recently, I haven't actually ventured into the section due to the seedy characters fluttering about. These people touch each and every item many times. They smell it or squeeze it. They can turn it over and look at it's back side. There is no expectation for them to wash their hands before or after handling these items (and you can probably assume that the teenager that placed the items didn't wash his either).
The food varies in size, shape and colors. Some of the items are smaller than the width of my pinky finger. Others are larger than my head (just for the record, I have a pretty small head). Some are round. Others are flat. Some are representatives of the entire plant. Others are only specific parts. I have been on the lookout for a perfectly square piece of food in this area but have failed miserably to find it.
There is one main commonality though- most of it came directly from plants. (Aside 2: I say most because people often confuse the fungi kingdom and the plant kingdom. Many people still think that there are 2 different kinds of organisms- plants and animals- despite the fact that there are actually 6 with animals being the least important in the grand scheme of things. End Aside 2.) The sellers just went out to the yard, cut a tree or part of one, and brought it in for us to buy. Some they pulled out of the ground and still have the dirt attached.
Here's the thing: you can eat that inexpensive, unplastic-laden food completely raw. No cooking necessary. No fancy recipes. I saw some of this exact same food at a restaurant last week. They combined several different items together and called it some wacky name. If I recall correctly, it was a 'salad'. And, for some reason, they charged $12 for a combination of food that would cost less than $5 and feed me several times over.
One of the major problems with food in this section is the lack of nutrition labels. None of the unpackaged food advertises its ingredients list, calorie count, or the all important number of grams of fat. In a nutshell, you really have no idea what you are getting. Machines haven't ripped the food apart and put it back together with other additives. How are we expected to put something in our system that hasn't been pre-digested? I don't think our bodies are ready for that.
Rumor has it that this food is actually quite nutritious. You might have to send it to an independent lab for analysis or simply look it up if you are curious (I've never been brave enough to check).
Anyway, about a month ago I finally developed the courage to actually purchase some of this food. It was insultingly cheap compared to the items found in the rest of the building. It felt like I was ripping them off and the girl at the checkout counter was not allowed to accept tips. (Aside 3: Either that or she was just creeped out by an ogre like me trying to offer her a couple of bucks. I've never been good with the ladies even while dangling cash. I'm not sure, but I might not be allowed back in that particular store until she leaves her position. End Aside 3.)
|Yes, I paint my toes|
To be honest, this food was actually quite tasty. I've been eating a lot of it lately. Further, I noticed an unexpected consequence: I've been losing weight. My scale (not that I believe anything it says) reports that I'm down 3 pounds in the past 3 weeks. I'm willing to accept that there might be some sort of coincidence here. I'm not one to apply causality to a correlation. But it does seem a little suspicious that my weight loss numbers were significantly better after I started eating more of this uncared for, dead, decaying organic matter just tossed out for anyone to take.
Anyway, I just thought I would share. It seems that many people don't know or under-use this section of the store. I admit that I was skeptical at first. Not only has my waistline gone down but my energy is up and so is my free cash, which I can now waste on non-thrift shop triathlon apparel.