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The Ethics of Supermarket Lines

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Jun 04, 2018

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player, Stitcher, or Apple Podcasts. (And please subscribe!)

Michael and Andrew in New York City are good friends from high school, but they can't agree on the ethics governing the check-out line at the grocery store.

Michael (below left, in hat) thinks it's okay to have one person in your group wait with the cart in line, holding a spot, while another finishes the grocery shopping.

He even says it's okay to leave your cart in line unattended while you finish shopping, relying on the "kinetic energy of the line" to push your cart or basket forward.

"My goal is to get out of the store as quickly as possible," Michael explains. "I'd be perfectly happy if when I walked up to the line there were ten baskets on the floor in front of me," he adds, "as long as the line doesn't slow down because of it."

Andrew (below right) strongly disagrees:

"I've noticed [baskets saving spots in line] happening a lot and it's...a problem," he says.

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This week on The Sporkful, Michael and Andrew call in for help settling their dispute.

Our friend Nicole Taylor (below), author of The Up South Cookbook, joins Dan to cohost the episode. She says part of the problem is New Yorkers. (Nicole grew up in Georgia, where grocery shopping is a friendlier experience.)

"If you go to other parts of the country, I think people are a little bit more friendly. The lines are not as long," she says.

So is there a middle ground here -- where efficiency and the greater good are both served at the grocery store? Listen in to the episode for Dan and Nicole's verdict.

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Later in the episode, Nicole and Dan debate the best way to cut cherry tomatoes (vertically vs. horizontally) and whether or not it's OK to eat in the car.

Plus, Nicole tells us about some unconventional career advice she recently got from a colleague.

"He was like, 'Well, maybe [you should] learn how to say things differently to white men in food [media],'" she recalls. "I started seeing red. I was like, 'so are you saying that's what's held me back?'"

Listen in to the full episode for that conversation -- and check our Nicole's tweets about that advice.

Today's sponsors:

Interstitial music in this episode from Black Label Music:

- "Bandstand Extended" by Jack Ventimiglia

- "Diamond Cutter" by Marc Zazzaro

- "New Old" by JT Bates

- "Simple Song" by Chris Bierden

- "Still In Love With You" by Stephen Clinton Sullivan

Photos: FlickrCC/Márcio Cabral de Moura and Courtesy of Nicole Taylor

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