A recent study by Harvard Business School and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business determined that shoppers who brought their own reusable bags to the grocery store tended to buy more “organic” or “green” type products, but then tended to fill those bags with items from the middle section of the grocery store (i.e., high fat, high sugar and packaged). They were able to track these trends because the shoppers with reusable bags received $0.03 bag credit on their receipts. Ironically enough, the environmental good accomplished by using a reusable bag was offset by the items they were purchasing. And to compound the issue, the health benefits were more perceived than experienced because of what they were purchasing.
Another study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School recently followed shoppers through the grocery store. The study was designed to discover what shoppers were buying and how they flowed through the store. When the researchers were digesting the data, they discovered an interesting trend: customers who placed kale in their carts immediately followed that selection with ice cream.
I believe I understand what was going on in these studies: the shoppers “felt” better about their purchases because they were using a reusable bag and putting better “packaged” food in them. Granted, those “organic” or “green” packaged products are better than their nonorganic counterparts, but they are still not ideal for healthy living. This study is more intriguing because these consumers were purchasing fruits and vegetables and then treats. In both cases, the real desire to eat better, live better or do right by the environment was a driving factor, and since a good choice was made, a little latitude was granted to make a less healthy choice.
Many of us go through similar choices every morning. We wake up and stand on the all-knowing “barometer of life”—the bathroom scale—and at that moment we decide, “Uh oh, better eat better today L ” or “Yay! I am down a couple pounds, I have room for another latte, donut, ice cream bar, etc. J”
I think it is human nature to offset a good choice with a less than good choice. And while many of you, like me, had the luxury to eat like that in our younger years, I would contend that that window of luxury has passed. Today I need to make a more determined effort to stay healthy. The nice thing is that eating better leads to feeling better. Now all that needs to happen is to say “yes” to more fruits and vegetables and position myself to be successful. This is what you have done because you have a box of good food delivered to your home!