Grape testing
November 12, 2007 6:37 PM   Subscribe

Is it unethical to try ONE grape at the grocery store in order to determine whether to buy a bag?
posted by Juicylicious to Food & Drink (45 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Well, you could always ask the cashier to charge you for one extra grape at checkout if it makes you feel bad.
posted by pravit at 6:45 PM on November 12, 2007

I liken it to the "penny in a tray" idea:

How many grapes are on a bunch? Couple hundred? Now how much does a bunch of grapes cost? $2-3 in my area at least. So, one grape is going to be around 1 penny or less in price, so I don't see any problem trying it out.

Although I guess I have no way to "leave a penny" as it were, unless I plant some vines in the yard...
posted by i less than three nsima at 6:46 PM on November 12, 2007

I used to work at a grocery store and my manager said that this was completely acceptable for customers to do. So, if my manager is representative of the industry as a whole, then they're okay with it, and I can't see how it would be unethical if both parties agree.
posted by bluejayk at 6:47 PM on November 12, 2007

I was tempted to write that this was a good example of the tragedy of the commons, however the grocer probably doesn't consider the grapes a commonly shared resource. At any rate, assuming that by "try" you mean "eat" then you don't actually have to eat one to choose a bunch. Check out this guide to choosing grapes:
posted by tractorfeed at 6:48 PM on November 12, 2007

Is it unethical to try ONE grape at the grocery store in order to determine whether to buy a bag?

This is between you and your own personal god, but do you try any of the other fruit or foods at the market with the same sort of bizarre justification, that you are trying it out? I'm not talking about snacking just for fun, I'm talking about "Oh gee, I'm not sure if I really want to buy 200 more of these, I should eat one..." slippery-slope crazytalk. If you're saying that the reason you have given in some way justifies single-grape eating I would say no, it doesn't, If you ask me if I personally care if you eat a grape at the store, honestly I don't.
posted by jessamyn at 6:52 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

Yes, but take a loose one, don't pull off a grape from the middle of a nice bunch and ruin the aesthetics.
posted by zadcat at 6:58 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Here's a secret, provided that you go to a decent grocery store: Ask the nearby produce clerk (and there almost always is one) if you can try something, be it a grape or an apple or a bell pepper. They'll almost always cut one open for you to taste before you buy -- for free! (And if they don't, you should shop elsewhere.)

Knowing this, asking the clerk to help you with a grape tasting seems kinda petty.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:58 PM on November 12, 2007 [6 favorites]

I meant no, it isn't unethical, so's you take a loose one.
posted by zadcat at 6:58 PM on November 12, 2007

I'm not sure if you consider The Simpsons to be a source of ethicical guidance but the episode Homer versus Lisa and the 8th Commandment addressed this exact question.

Marge and Lisa are shopping and Marge tastes a grape. Lisa says it's stealing and that Marge should really pay for a grape. So she goes to the cash register, asks to be charged for one grape, and the cashier has to do a price check for one grape.

You could argue that, in a utilitarian sort of way, it's just cheaper to eat the grape and not pay for it than it is for a cashier to find out what to charge for one grape and to go through and figure out how to enter it in the cash register, talking not only your time but their time.
posted by champthom at 6:59 PM on November 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

one is fine, but what if it's not a good grape? do you take another and another until you find one you like?
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:03 PM on November 12, 2007

posted by caddis at 7:15 PM on November 12, 2007

mudpuppie nails it
posted by seawallrunner at 7:24 PM on November 12, 2007

What if everyone does it? And don't you normally wash fruit before eating?
posted by Kevin S at 7:36 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Safeway/VONS/Whatever other brands that chain owns, allow sampling, and occasionally feature signage directing customers to ask for assistance. I have even seen workers holding fruit and slicing off pieces on the fly for anyone. I think self-sampling when done moderately and in honest intent is implcitly allowed there.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:41 PM on November 12, 2007

Is it really effective for determining if that bunch of grapes is the one you want, though? What if the one grape you taste is not representative of the whole bunch, and you end up with grapes that you don't actually like?

In other words, it may be ok, from the grocer's point of view, and therefore ethical, in my opinion, but still not accomplish what you wanted it to.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:42 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

They also always have sample cookies out at my branch in the bakery, so maybe they're just sweethearts.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:42 PM on November 12, 2007

OMG, more crazy people. Yes, of course it is fine. Same with cherries. Why anyone would buy a bag of grapes without trying one is beyond me.
posted by mzurer at 7:48 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Eat the grape. If you're walking around throwing grapes in a bag so that you can eat them later without paying for them, then yeah, that would be unethical. Eating one...isn't.
posted by 913 at 7:59 PM on November 12, 2007

Why anyone would buy a bag of grapes without trying one is beyond me.

Why anyone would need to try a grape is beyond me. I know what grapes taste like, and by looking at them, I can see that they aren't shriveled or brown. That gives me all the information I need to know pretty much what they'll taste like.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:01 PM on November 12, 2007 [4 favorites]

My father says that it is ethical to try one grape because it should be unethical to sell sour grapes. So sayeth my dad, expert grape shopper. But most stores will let you sample any produce for free. I used to think my dad was committing a crime, but, considering how many bad bananas, apples, garlic bulbs and other hidden rotten fruits & veggies I've purchased over the years and not had time to return, I now think it's fair.
posted by acoutu at 8:08 PM on November 12, 2007

My local chain supermarket has signage directing customers to feel free to dispose of any fruit or vegetables that look bad in the bins provided. If they're factoring in customers throwing out fruit they don't like the look of, surely they're factoring in the occasional grape sampling. But as other have said, they're probably more than happy for you to try anything within reason if you ask.
posted by Jimbob at 8:08 PM on November 12, 2007

No. But it is unethical to try one beer in order to decide whether or not to buy a case. Go fig.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 8:29 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Do you even have to ask?

Yes, the myopic people (if you can even call them that) above have tried to lure you into Satan's fat belly with their grape stealing. Yes, one grape really doesn't make a difference. But what about all the grapes you sample over the corse of a lifetime?

That could add up to a WHOLE BUNCH OF GRAPES!

Frankly, I think you are a monster for even asking a question when it is so obviously a sin.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:34 PM on November 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

It's okay just as long as you take a grape from another bunch and add it to your bag so it weighs out the same at the register.

posted by sourwookie at 8:53 PM on November 12, 2007

What if everyone does it?

Eat a grape from the balding vine that everyone picks off of.

The store isn't going to sell that vine; no one will buy it; that grape is probably representative of the bunch on the shelf. Win-win-win.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:55 PM on November 12, 2007

Yes, of course it is fine. Same with cherries.

After you gnaw the flesh off, what do you do with the pit?
posted by HotPatatta at 9:29 PM on November 12, 2007

How many grapes are on a bunch? Couple hundred?

Wha!? What kind of grapes are you eating? A couple hundred?! No, there are approx 25 - 35 grapes on a bunch you'd find at a grocer.
posted by dobbs at 10:07 PM on November 12, 2007

I don't have an opinion, but eating an unwashed grape that other people have probably already handled is kinda gross and unsafe. So if you're not risking your mortal soul, you're at least risking food poisoning. Food poisoning THAT COULD KILL YOU!

That'd straighten out your grape karma right there.
posted by chairface at 10:50 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

chairface, that might influence me if I was going to wash the fruit when I got home anyway. As it is, I consider it my immune system workout.
To the original question: my grocery store leaves out cut up oranges, apples, etc, so I imagine grapes are ok as well.
posted by jacalata at 11:17 PM on November 12, 2007

I've been a head clerk at a grocery store for 5 years and have seen everything from a riot start to a gun being pulled. Eating a grape is not a bad thing. But, from the store's POV how does one draw the line?

We have a bulk foods section 20feet from the grapes. We do not allow sampling of bulk items but how can we enforce this if 20feet away the people get to eat the grapes? Also, if you are allowed to eat grapes then why not eat an apple or banana? Simple enough things, not expensive items, but we can't charge someone for an apple that was consumed because we charge by weight.

And for every person that "tastes" a grape there are the others that see sampling an opportunity for plain old theft. We are constantly picking up banana peels, half eaten bags of grapes, apple cores, half-drank juices, empty candy wrappers and so on.

I personally don't care if you eat a grape or two, neither does my manager, but what we do care about is that when you are walking through our store and you grab a grape out of the bag, almost always, another grape will fall out and end up on the floor which causes a safety concern and it is such a large concern that we call them "million-dollar-grapes." The number of lawsuits we have paid as a company on slip-and-falls caused by loose grapes is fucking insane.

No, eating a grape to see if the bag is worth purchasing is not unethical, however, the precedent that "sampling" sets is far more negative an impact to the store than you might think.
posted by M Edward at 11:49 PM on November 12, 2007 [4 favorites]

If there is a 'no sampling' policy, then yes, it is unethical.

I'm always astounded to see people walking around our local Whole Foods with a tray of olives or hot food, just snacking away as they shop. Grapes really aren't much different--although if you're eating one to see if you want to buy, that's less of an issue for me than if you're just grabbing fruit to snack on because it's unwrapped.

Plus: unwashed grapes? Really? Not smart.
posted by yellowcandy at 1:11 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't know if this is a moral dilemma as much as it is supermarkets trying to make people feel guilty for attempting to get their money's worth by finding out if they actually want something.
posted by mdonley at 1:41 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

No one's ever yelled at me for doing so, and I'm not exactly surreptitious about it.
posted by Coventry at 3:30 AM on November 13, 2007

This is one of the things about which my mother was absolutely right. Despite how horrified I was as a small child when my mom tasted a grape in the grocery store, yes, this is absolutely fine.
posted by desuetude at 6:02 AM on November 13, 2007

Simply ask the produce clerk for permission, and that should cover your bases.

I buy most of my produce from a local produce store and if I buy something and it's bad when I get it home they take it back and refund or replace it. Plus their prices are better.

If I was at the supermarket I would simply ask first.

And yes, my friends, there is such a thing as a grape that looks good and tastes awful. Tasting one is a good thing.
posted by konolia at 7:20 AM on November 13, 2007

not at all
posted by history is a weapon at 7:29 AM on November 13, 2007

You can almost Always have a taste of the goods (grapes in this case; fruit vendors also have sliced open Watermelons and Mangoes for my mother to have a taste of them before purchasing) here in India. I'm sure the fruit sellers are no different over there, but you just might want to take mudpuppie's advice:)
posted by hadjiboy at 7:46 AM on November 13, 2007

What about one slice of bread?
posted by wackybrit at 9:52 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

Two anecdotes: When I worked at a grocery, it was encouraged for people to sample our grapes, because we felt we had the best goddamned grapes around (and we likely did). But that's just one store's policy.

When my uncle was a teenager, he ate a banana off a bunch to "sample" it, and got caught by the store. They brought in the cops, and everyone called him "Monkey Man" for years. There is a risk that if the store does not agree with you re: sampling that you could be called "Grape Ape" for years to come.
posted by klangklangston at 10:40 AM on November 13, 2007

Can someone please tell me what horrible illness will ensue from eating non-washed grapes? To avoid eating a single one for fear of pesticide poisoning/bacteria/fecal matter from fertilization...seems a little paranoid.

(I say, sample away.)
posted by TochterAusElysium at 11:30 AM on November 13, 2007

Tochter, I'm pretty sure you could transmit HepC via unwashed fruits and veggies. You can have your free grape, I'll keep my liver. Well, until I finish soaking it in alcohol.
posted by nomisxid at 11:57 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

nomisxid, unless they're blood grapes, I think you mean HepA? The minuscule amount of HepA potentially riding on one grape can certainly be vanquished by the immune system of a healthy adult. (And Hep A doesn't cause permanent liver damage anyway.)
posted by desuetude at 1:17 PM on November 13, 2007

Yes, of course it is fine. Same with cherries.

woah woah woah WOAH crazy, slow down! it's totally not ok with cherries. cherries are expensive! and seasonal! every cherry counts! you steal CHERRIES? you animal.

meanwhile, grapes? well, you take a single, one that fell off the bunch, that's ok. but you take one off the viney thing? that's stealing. stealer.
posted by twistofrhyme at 6:34 PM on November 13, 2007

The one time I saw an elderly lady taking a grape, she grabbed it, sort-of covertly and very quickly put it in her mouth and immediately walked away. It seemed that a. she felt guilty about it, or was at least trying to be sneaky, and b. she had absolutely no intention, whatsoever, to buy any grapes. In that case, I think it certainly is stealing.

I've been buying grapes for years and I've never tasted first... sometimes the grapes you get just aren't as great, and you deal with that. Do you take a bite out of a banana to see if it's good enough to buy? Or eat a whole one to see if that bunch is good? Why is a grape any different, just because it's smaller??

Also, if they charge by weight... well, my comment from a previous thread: "When I worked at a grocery store, one woman's toddler was really hungry and couldn't wait. Normally we didn't mind if they opened a box of crackers or something. But she fed him a banana, and since bananas are charged by weight, she kinda stole it... just weighed another banana though and used that as the charge."
posted by IndigoRain at 8:20 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Ha, I posted that before I'd read the other comments in the thread. Monkey Man. And Jessamyn had it first.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:24 PM on November 13, 2007

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