When I visited the supermarket in Mexico City last fall, I was expecting to find the usual assortment of Mexican staples and fresh produce.
Instead, I found a sea of brightly colored bags, packed to the brim with fresh produce, like an enormous carton of milk.
As the carton sat there, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one packing the same bag.
Many shoppers were, too.
“I got the same thing every time,” one man told me.
I also noticed that the bags were all different colors.
I asked a supermarket employee what color the bags might be, and he replied that they were all pink.
In a supermarket in Rio de Janeiro, the bags in question were green, while in Las Vegas, the same green bag was pink.
And on the corner of the same store, a woman who looked like a child in a brightly colored Santa hat was packing a pink bag filled with fresh tomatoes.
“It was like, oh my God, it was really bad,” said the woman, who asked to be identified only as Claudia.
Claudia’s shopping experience was far from uncommon, and in a country where grocery stores are still largely underdeveloped and subsidized by the government, she was hardly the first person to complain about the color of bags.
The bags, or, more accurately, the packaging, are just one piece of a much larger problem: supermarkets are failing to make grocery purchases transparent.
Many of the items in the bags are packaged in a way that hides the size of the bag or the weight of the contents.
For example, the bag I bought in Mexico included one large bag that I could see in the grocery store.
But when I walked into the supermarket, I discovered that the bag was not actually the same size as the rest of the grocery shopping cart.
When I went back into the store, the shopping cart had two separate bags.
It was not clear if the two bags were the same, or if they were different sizes.
At least two of the bags I bought were not visible on the inside of the shopping carts.
A bag of fresh tomatoes, one that was labeled as being fresh and another that was a bag of dried tomatoes, are seen in this undated handout photo provided by the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
The two bags are labeled as belonging to the same producer.
This photo is from an inventory of fresh produce from a supermarket.
Despite the lack of transparency, some shoppers think they’re not being ripped off.
“I don’t feel ripped off, but I feel that it’s a big deal that you can’t buy it,” Claudia said.
My experience was just a sample of what’s wrong with grocery stores.
There’s a huge difference between a product being sold in the supermarket and being sold at home.
We are selling the same product, but in a different store.
This is not the first time Claudia has complained about the lack or opacity of grocery stores’ packaging.
In 2015, she wrote a blog post titled, “You’re not seeing the difference,” in which she argued that shoppers are paying for the privilege of being able to purchase products in the same stores as other people.
It was also at this point that Claudia received a call from a friend who was purchasing a pack of the supermarket’s product.
When Claudia asked why the bags weren’t marked “fresh,” she said the store clerk said she didn’t have to do so.
So Claudia was left with the feeling that the store was not providing her with the same benefits that other shoppers have.
Even if a bag does not carry the exact same brand as what is advertised in the store’s advertising, many people do not know that.
Some grocery stores sell the same brand of products on a pack that is labeled “fresh” and a bag labeled “dried” or “organic” that has been frozen or otherwise treated with pesticides.
In some cases, those bags are also labeled as “organic,” and the labels do not reveal the size or shape of the package.
But in most cases, these products are labeled simply as “fresh.”
For instance, when I went into a store in Mexico last summer, a pack labeled “organic fresh tomatoes” was labeled “Organic fresh,” which was just the opposite of what I was hoping to buy.
Instead of buying a pack marked “organic, non-dried,” I decided to buy a pack called “organic and non-organic,” which I could not even see because the packaging was so opaque.
One of the most common complaints about grocery stores is that they sell products in large quantities that are not transparent enough to be purchased.
In 2016, the grocery industry had a whopping $6.9 billion in revenue, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
That’s a lot of money to spend buying