Given the previously noted importance of food to many cultures and people, we oftentimes fail to see how various cultures can overtly or covertly divulge information about the importance of certain values just by the manner in which items are arranged in a grocery store. For this activity, each student will identify a large grocery store within 5 miles of his/her residence. Please try to identify a large grocery store chain and is a “dominant culture” store (i.e., a Latin specialty version of a large chain would not be appropriate). Each student should plan to spend at least 60 – 120 minutes at the grocery store taking careful observations of the types of people who frequent the store, the types and availability of the products available for purchase, and the ease of finding both dominant culture (American/White culture) and cultural grocery items. After the observation period, the student should write a brief report that answers the following questions:
1. What type of food or products were most plentiful in the store? What types of food or products were difficult to find?
2. What claims were used to promote food items? Did these items emphasize taste, nutritional value, cost or ease of preparation?
3. What were typically the most expensive items in the store? When a wide range of prices exists for the same type of product, what distinguished the lower from the higher priced versions?
4. What type of behavior did you observe on the part of the shoppers? Under what circumstances did shoppers interact with one another?
5. How were meats and poultry labeled and displayed? What efforts were made to distance these products from their original animal forms?
6. What did you observe about the sizes in which different types of products were available? What did these sizes imply about the social settings in which these products will be used?
7. How were foods from various racial/ethnic groups distributed throughout the store? Were some racial/ethnic foods presented as normative whereas others were presented as unusual or exotic?
8. What other observations did you make that informed you about cultural values? What cultural values were evident in the supermarket setting?
Students should organize the answers to these questions into a paper format with the number of the question clearly labeled. There is no minimum or maximum length for this assignment, but the answers to the questions should clearly convey that the student has taken time and effort in generating the observations. Standard APA format it required.
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