Sure, the grocery store has pretty much all
the stuff you need, but it also has plenty of tricks. From the way aisles are laid out to the way
products are labeled, everything inside a grocery store is deliberately designed to
get the most money possible out of shoppers. According to a report by National Geographic,
quote, “We’re all being manipulated by our grocery stores.” Shoppers go in looking for one or two items
and come out with a whole cartload of things they weren’t even planning to buy. While your first instinct may be to blame
yourself for your inability to resist temptation, this is not entirely your fault. The report goes on to say that grocery stores
are masters at manipulation, noting: “Every feature of the store… is designed
to lure us in, keep us there, and seduce us into spending money.” In many stores, once you walk through the
door, you can’t go back out again until you go through the entire building and reach the
exit door. Along the way, you first come to the produce
department, where you are greeted with bright colors, fresh fruits and vegetables, and other
things designed to make you hungry. The bakery is usually next, with the wafting
scent of cookies and bread to make you even hungrier. What’s more, the things you need most, like
the dairy and frozen food departments, are usually at the back of the store, forcing
you to wade through aisles and aisles of temptations until you reach the thing you actually came
for. Even the most iron-willed customers get led
astray and end up paying more than they planned. “No fear, nothing to lose. What can I say? It’s like art.” One of the ways that grocery stores keep you
moving into the store is to invite you in with the lovely smell of baked goods. The bakery section is set up to display all
of the same kinds of wonderful treats Grandma makes, and they lead you to believe that their
treats are made with love from scratch, too. Unfortunately, the store bakers are not your
grandma, and only a small portion, if any, of the cookies, cakes, and breads are fully
made in-store. According to a baker at Costco, the large
majority of items in the grocery store bakery either come frozen or come from a mix. According to her post on Reddit, the artisan
buns, bagels, baguettes, danishes, strudels, apple pies, croissants, cookies, tiramisu,
and several other favorites are delivered to the store in a freezer truck, already made. They are sometimes then heated up to finish
baking, and put on the counter so they make that lovely fresh-baked smell, even if that
smell is totally a lie. Most cakes, custard pies, dinner rolls, and
muffins come in a mix a lot like Betty Crocker, but before you get too disappointed, though,
there are a few things Costco bakers really do make from scratch. Multigrain bread, rosemary bread, garlic bread,
pumpkin, cherry, pecan, and lemon meringue pies, granola, and granola nut bread are all
genuinely made in the store, making it hard to tell just what sratch-made or frozen products
other bakeries have on their shelves. While we’re not naming names, we are saying
that grocery stores often put the wrong labels on meat packages. You might wonder if that’s just an honest
mistake, and we wish we could tell you it was. But the fact of the matter is that multiple
grocery stores have been caught doing a “bait-and-switch,” meaning that they label the weight of the
meat with a higher number than the scale actually reads. While just plain lying about the weight is
one way to do it, there are some even sneakier ways that employees go about this. One of them is to weigh both the meat and
the package it is sitting in, causing the whole thing to ring up at a higher price. They may also cover the meat in ice to tack
on a few extra cents, which may seem like chump change at first, but not after you realize
they are doing it to hundreds of customers per day. Another sneaky way that stores charge you
more for meat is by packing it in a “water solution.” The labels on the products or the big signs
around the meat counter may claim that the water solution helps to give the meat a fuller,
better taste, but this is baloney. Water is pretty much free for the grocery
store, so they can put however much they want of it into meat packages to raise the weight
of said package without spending a dime. The higher the number on the scale, the more
you’re going to end up paying. Grocery stores use this same trick when it
comes to produce. While the first benefit of spraying the produce
with water periodically is that it keeps it looking fresh and inviting, the second, more
important benefit is that the wetter the fruits and vegetables are, the more they cost the
consumer. According to Taste of Home, this scam can
raise the price of pay-per-pound produce by up to 25 percent. The same thing is often done to scallops. An investigation carried out by the Boston
Globe took a look at moisture levels in scallops from 21 supermarkets in the state of Massachusetts
and found that even so-called “pure,” unprocessed scallops, quote, “contained water levels far
exceeding industry standards.” New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood
had this to say about the widespread practice of swapping one fish for another: “It’s clear that seafood fraud isn’t just
a fluke — it’s rampant across New York.” It’s not just New York, either, as it’s a
practice that takes place all over the country. People are scammed out of fish — much of
it very expensive fish — when the distributor swaps out one fish for another, less costly
variety. This is best explained by an example from
Forbes. According to them, it’s not uncommon to walk
into a store and order a high-quality white fish, like red snapper, which they say can
cost $23 or more per pound. Since most white fish looks pretty similar
after it’s trimmed into filets, stores and restaurants can sell you almost anything and
call it something else, and they often do. There’s a good chance you’re not getting that
$23 red snapper. Instead, it might be tilefish, tilapia, or
something else. Worse, it’s likely something that only costs
$2-3 per pound. And guess who gets all the extra money earned
from this underhanded transaction? That’s right, the grocery store and the fish
distributors. It’s been estimated that with red snapper
in particular, this bait-and-switch happens an astonishing 90 percent of the time — all
because the customer isn’t a fish expert and can’t tell one white fish from another. The best way to combat grocery store scams
is to be a savvy consumer. You have to know how to compare prices and
how to get the best deal based on the units contained in the package you are buying, not
just the number on the price tag. Unfortunately, grocery stores are ready for
this. They make deciphering the difference between
differently priced products extremely difficult by mixing up the units of measurements on
the labels. Let’s take one example: ice cream. While some ice creams are labeled by the ounce,
others are labeled per pint or per quart. This makes it almost impossible to understand
if one quart of ice cream should be cheaper, more expensive, or the same price as one that
contains a certain number of pints. The best way to get around this is to keep
being a smart customer. It takes some time, but if you really want
to avoid getting scammed, you should use that smartphone and get a unit conversion app. That way, you can be more informed about how
much you’re getting in each package. “And we’re back with Supermarket Spree and we’re finally ready to get shopping.” “Hooray!” Have you ever bought a bag of potatoes at
the store, only to get home and find that half of them were rotten? Or maybe you bought some tomatoes and found
out later that the ones at the bottom of the bag or box were squished or going bad? Or that the meat you bought was a lot more
fatty than it appeared under the lights of the meat department? This is no accident. Although a better practice would be to donate,
discount, or even just throw away those questionable foods, there is no money to be made that way. So, instead, grocery stores sometimes purposely
arrange foods so that the flaws, blemishes, or rotting bits are hidden among the good
stuff so you don’t see it until it’s too late. You can always bring the bad food back to
the store for a refund, of course, but grocery stores are counting on their shoppers being
too lazy to do that. Driving all the way back to the store and
standing in line at the returns desk is too big of a hassle, so why even bother, right? That’s the kind of thinking that lets the
grocery stores take advantage of you. Another clever way that grocery stores are
able to weasel more money out of their customers is to stick to the phrase “eye level is buy
level.” This means that basically the thing you see
first and easiest to reach — the thing at eye level — is the thing you will buy. No one wants to bend down or reach over or
stretch for something, so they are subconsciously more inclined to buy the things that are right
in front of their face. For this reason, most stores place the highest-priced
items exactly where you will see them first: eye level. If you find what you’re looking for right
there, chances are you won’t spend time looking for something with a better price. By their nature, humans look at what’s right
in front of them, and grocery stores use this to their advantage. If you want to be a savvy shopper, you have
to be actively aware of your surroundings, and the fact that the store shelves may be
manipulating you. “The thing is, Bob, it’s not that I’m
lazy. It’s that I just don’t care!” Words like “organic” and “cage-free” are trending
at the moment, making you feel morally obligated to make better choices at the grocery store. When it comes to buying eggs, your moral compass
probably points you in the direction of the “cage-free” eggs, but we’re sorry to tell
you that this label is often a lie. According to the Observer, buying eggs with
a label that says “cage-free” isn’t helping to protect any of our fine feathered friends. According to them, the only requirement for
chickens to be considered “cage-free” is for there to be one square foot of space per chicken
— which isn’t much. It is commendable to want to promote better
living conditions for the chickens that provide the eggs you buy, but buying bogus cage-free
eggs isn’t the way to do it — and it’s not worth the extra price you pay to grocery stores. Perhaps the biggest grocery store scam of
all is labeling produce and other items as “organic.” People want organic items because they are
free of pesticides and harmful chemicals, but there’s no way to tell if something is
really organic or not by just looking at it — and chances are high that it’s not. According to The Washington Post, there was
evidence of falsely labeled organic soybeans and corn found in in 2017. According to them, a 36 million ton shipment
of soybeans was suddenly labeled organic when it arrived in the U.S., making it worth millions
more — though those soybeans were actually full of pesticides and other chemicals (so,
in no way organic at all). But the scandal doesn’t stop there. This “organic” corn and soybeans are fed to
animals, who are then later sold as having been raised “organically” as well. So now not only is the produce not organic,
but the meat isn’t either. It is extremely difficult to know whether
items are really, truly organic without a scientific examination, which kind of undermines
the entire movement toward being more healthy and environmentally friendly. So, how can you protect yourself against this? Be diligent about checking labels and buying
items that are produced domestically, because they are more closely monitored for quality
and legitimacy. Now you know! Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Mashed videos about grocery
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