Best Practices for Getting Out of Berkeley Bowl Alive

Categories: Best Practices
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Berkeley Bowl. You hear its siren song, beckoning you, telling of a grocery store built from your dreams. Aisles packed with fair-trade cocoa, bulk bins overflowing with every type of spelt pretzel, and a produce section that'll make you slap your mama. It truly is a paradise, but as Sartre so famously wrote, hell is other people, and nowhere is this more true than when you're trapped in the Bowl. You're acting purely on instincts, and you'll learn things about yourself, things you might not be so comfortable knowing. Will you fight or will you flee? We're here to help you fight. You will have your organic massaged kale salad, and you will live to enjoy eat it, too!

1. Gird yer loins
Before you even enter the store, you need to do the following things: 1) drink 15 Diet Cokes; 2) perform running chest bumps with a car; and 3) spend at least 10 minutes yelling, "Come at me, bro!" to a wall. When you feel like you could win a wrestling match with Carrot Top, you're ready. Alternate plan: Shop only when high as a kite. It ups your tolerance for the hippie bullshit, but if you go this route, you better have a list that you'll stick to. If you don't, your bill could run into the millions of dollars and all you'll have to show for it is Doritos and peanut butter cups. Delicious Doritos and peanut butter cups.

2. Dress appropriately.
Closed-toed shoes are a must because your shit WILL be run over by a cart full of chia seeds. If you biked over (AND YOU DID, RIGHT? Because that's a whole 'nother issue!), wear your helmet inside -- that thing could save your life if when it turns ugly. Also, if you can remove your shoulders, now would be a good time to bust out that party trick. Finally, clean underwear; if there was ever a chance you might end up in the ER, today is the day.

3. Check your soul at the door.
Because you must be ready to body check your own grandmother (YOUR OWN GRANDMOTHER) for the last delicious tub of delicious coconut cream. I've done it, and I'm not proud of it. But I'm alive, and who knows what happened to the other guy?

4. Park and run! RUN!
Park your cart as far out of the way as possible (in the Walgreens parking lot? There's room there!) and then make like Supermarket Sweep (you always wanted to be on that!): Run (RUN!) down the aisles grabbing your goods like a madman. Take what is yours! Have your list handy and know the store layout like the back of your hand (practice at home!) so you're not looking for flax oil in the olive oil section, like a real idiot.

5. Hit the pastries first!
AND THEN DON'T BUY ANY. Seriously, fuck them for making you pay for your pastries separately. Berkeley Bowl thinks it's a food court and it's not, YOU'RE A GROCERY STORE SO ACT LIKE EVERY OTHER GROCERY STORE. You can't reinvent the wheel, baby! Especially when your new wheel is all misshapen and inconvenient to me.

6. Next up, bulk.
Seriously, do not go in there. NEVER GO IN THERE. You must promise me. PROMISE ME.

7. Pick a fucking hummus already.
I don't care if that shit is made with white beans and agave nectar, it all tastes the same! GODDAMMIT.

8. Pack your own damn bags
The employees are too busy being high, flirting, or talking shit about you in front of you to help, OK? Can you blame them, they're waiting on our ungrateful asses for chump change, and they just had to run all the way back to the organic produce section to get a fresh bunch of kale because some entitled hippie b thought hers had a few wilted leaves. And they didn't even get to murder her! Even if you clean public urinals in hell as a vocation, you're still one step ahead of these poor souls.

9. REPEAT!
You made it out alive, safely home, and you're unpacking your hemp bags when CHUNG CHUNG! (that was my Law & Order noise, not a racist thing), you realize you forgot your own organic kale!? SEE YOU IN HELL!

Laura Beck is a founding editor of Vegansaurus! and tweets at mrpenguino. Follow SFoodie on Twitter: @SFoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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18 comments
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Neiltomlinson
Neiltomlinson

Funny, and true............................but don't park in the Walgreen's parking lot!!  Cost me an extra $40 for that "quick" bag of red lentils......be warned

jennifermf
jennifermf

if they'd just install "cow catchers" on the shopping carts, it'd be a heck of a lot easier.

i'm glad i'm not the only one who has to pack their own damn bags. sometimes i wonder if i just wait it out if someone will swoop in and bag 'em like a boss and get me the hell out of there... but by the time that moving belt starts forcing my pile of almond milk containers and 10lbs of potatoes onto my oh-so-painstakingly-selected tomatoes and oh-so-perfectly-ripe strawberries, i'm about to lose my sh*t and i just start bagging my own damn groceries. For what I'm paying, I expect a damn bagger, though.

thepersonthathastobagyoursh*t
thepersonthathastobagyoursh*t

you should be packing YOUR own groceries anyway- if everyone did that it would actually help keep prices down

jennifermf
jennifermf

I agree with that logic, but I live with chronic pain and the whole experience of going to Berkeley Bowl (or anywhere) is extremely painful and exhausting. Grocery baggers actually make my shopping experiences a little less excruciating, and do it a hell of a lot faster than I do it (when they're around to do it), which gets the huffy-at-waiting-for-me customer behind me through the line that much faster.

Elizgre
Elizgre

Driven to foraging by 1 thru 9, particularly #6:  BULK madness!

Jonathan Kauffman
Jonathan Kauffman

Rainbow Grocery is the easiest place in the world to shop compared to the original Berkeley Bowl. I once braved the bulk bins there, only to have a 60-year-old man with a scraggly ponytail kick my shopping basket down the aisle to get at the oats he wanted.

UrbanUndead
UrbanUndead

Lol, I believe it. That old location was a complete clusterfu...dge. Getting between an old goat and his oats is prolly ill advised at either BB or Rb to this day, though ;D

UrbanUndead
UrbanUndead

Ha! Softies. I challenge y'all to brave Rainbow in SF - you can use the same list if you amplify it by a magnitude of ten, and fork over about double what you'd pay for an identical bag of organical vittles.

Reply Guy
Reply Guy

I love Rainbow. It's true their bulk sanctimony costs twice what it might cost anywhere else, but at least I know the sanctimony I get there was produced by indigenous lesbians at a commune in Guatemala from locally sourced, organic ingredients. 

Shelly Murney
Shelly Murney

My first time there an 80 year old woman got hit by a cart in the bulk section and was splayed on the floor. 

Justice Putnam
Justice Putnam

Newbies! Ya should have experienced "The Bowl" when it was at its old location, which is now Any Mountain. Then, it was a real scrum!

Jaymoh
Jaymoh

Laura, this is the best thing I've read in a really long time. So great, and Mel's comment is gold. 

Mel
Mel

Last time I was there, I MAY have accidentally kinda sorta gotten into a verbal spat with an old man who insulted my cart pushing skills because I wouldn't move aside for the fiftieth time in two minutes! He completely deserved to be told to go wash his balls.

DW
DW

Also, when you stop to choose something from the shelf, please leave your cart in the middle of the aisle, or if you must pull over to the edge, be sure you do so next to another cart so that the aisle is fully blocked until you're done browing.

Jym Dyer
Jym Dyer

I bike there wearing 3 helmets, because people in and around their parking lot drive cars the way they roll shopping carts.

AmblanchA
AmblanchA

This blog post made me laugh and cry from laughing.  So, so, so NAILED it. 

Omnivorebooks
Omnivorebooks

HILARIOUS!! Same goes for Rainbow Grocery (or, as I call it, Banebow).

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