For the past five summers we have vacationed with family and friends in the beautiful city of Victoria in the Pacific Northwest of Canada. Every summer starts in roughly the same way with the customary trip to our favorite neighborhood store to stock up on groceries. And every summer while at the grocery store I am afflicted by the same debilitating condition unknown to modern science that manifests itself with these symptoms: dilated pupils, confusion, nausea, chills,  and finally a paralysis of the dominant arm.

After much research on the matter I have self-diagnosed myself with ESP (soon to be trademarked and/or patented:).  ESP refers to Expatriate Shopping Paralysis, a medical condition caused by the obscene amount of choices an expat shopper is confronted with on a daily basis.  The sheer overwhelming number of choices initially lead to a dilation of the pupils, enabling the shopper to process the smorgasbord of packaging types and latest word fads that are a food marketers dream (think descriptors like shade grown, organic water, monkey picked, etc).  Looking for  logical linkages which don’t exist the shopper’s brain is driven into a state of confusion.  This confusion quickly mutates into nausea as the shopper is confronted with the fact that as a grown man with multiple degrees he should be able to make an intelligent and reasoned choice; especially when the decision involves the mundane task of buying a dozen eggs.  Chills and shivers are next, though this symptom is simply brought on by the obscene amount of time required to make a decision in a polar climate induced the shopping establishments over-zealous use of air-conditioning.  Finally, just as the shopper is about to reach for the carton of eggs, the dominant arm just freezes as the brain goes into over-drive asking itself: “Is this really it? Am I committing to this carton of eggs? But are you sure the other carton isn’t a better deal?  And why not the free-range ones? Grade A?  Or the brown ones? Maybe the large ones? Or the jumbo ones? Should I prefer the cage-free? Or the free to roam? Or the grass fed? Or the grain fed?  Or the Born Omega 3, or just the plain Omega 3.  With golden yolks or plain yolks? Is there a 2 for 1?  Or a best before?  Ahhhahaha!” And so it goes …


As of the time of this writing there is only one known cure if you feel symptoms of ESP coming on, simply lift your hands and place them on the exterior of your eyes facing forward and walk quickly and quietly to the nearest exit (see figure 1 below).  As a prophylaxis use this proven strategy: whatever the item pick what is in the bottom right hand corner, this is often the cheapest marketing spot (aka the “store special brand”), or ask a friend to go shopping for you.

Photo on 2016-07-09 at 3.43 PM
Figure 1: Horse Blinders

Who knew that being spoiled for choice could kill?!  Maybe Baloo had it right after all:

“Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
I mean the bare necessities
Old Mother Nature’s recipes
That brings the bare necessities of life.”

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy shopping experience …