Grounded Groceries

As hard as I try to be a good diner, I try even harder to be a good customer. At my preferred grocery store, I wait my turn at the fish counter -- often giving way to customers who were definitely there after me -- I never go in the express lane with more than twelve items, and I have no problem bagging my own groceries if help isn't available.

However, I have come slap up against a quandary to which I see no obvious solution: dropped produce. As in, what the heck do you do when you accidentally knock or drop fruits or vegetables to the floor? Look, it happens. It might happen more often to me, because I'm a slight klutz, but I'm sure it happens to everyone. So, what do you do? If you're like me, you walk around with a dropped Brussels sprout clutched in your hand until you can finally bin it in the parking lot. Other times when the odd lime has bounced down as I was reaching for the grapefruits above it, I've nudged it out of the way of foot traffic and guiltily gone about my business.

Do you put the mushroom, avocado, orange, or whatever back on top of the pyramid of produce for some other unsuspecting customer to buy? Gross.

Do you leave it where it lies, passively expecting the produce guys and gals to clean up after you? Ech, I don't want to do that -- it's so rude and lazy.

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Do you throw it out? Maybe, if there's an obvious garbage can for that purpose. But what if there isn't? Also, where do you draw the line? Because frankly, I don't know how I feel about trashing bigger things like oranges, avocados, or snowy heads of cauliflower.

Anxious to get to the bottom of this customer conundrum, I called around to a few discerning grocery stores in the Bay Area who stock high quality produce and carry an extensive, if not exclusive, organic produce selection.

Produce Guy #1

Him: "Throw it away."

Me: "Even if there aren't any trash cans?"

Him: "There are always trash cans."

Produce Guy #2

"Put it back. Unless it's organic or wet -- then you should give it to someone here to wash and they will put it back."

Produce Guy #3

"Don't put it back on the stand. Just tell one of the produce guys -- or anyone in the store, actually -- and they'll take care of it for you."

Produce Guy #4

Him: "PICK IT UP!"

Me: "Really? To leave for some other customer to come along and..."

Him: "Yeah! You should be WASHING it all anyway! All your meats, seafood, fruit, and vegetables -- EVERYTHING should be washed!"

Well, okay then! If I wasn't doing it before, I'll certainly be washing my stuff to excess now.

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Overall, I didn't get much of a consensus -- what do you think customers should do?

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