On an ugly fire scented day with ash raining from the sky, I went to Trader Joes in search of pizza ingredients. Not wanting to be outside for long while the fifth fire in three years rages north of us in wine country I hurriedly sought out the items on my list. I thought it would be nice to make a Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza as well as the usual veggie pizza we have grown to love.
Trader Joes used to sell canned pineapple. It was really good. Open the can and there were large pristine chunks of pineapple that looked fresh enough to have just been cut from a ripe fruit, floating in natural pineapple juice which was a delight to strain from the fruit and drink on its own as a treat. I went to the canned fruit section to find out it is no longer available. Oh no! Trader Joes is one of those companies that makes deals for the best price and products tend to come and go. My favorite pineapple is a go. It’s happened before and it has come back, but right now, it’s a goner.
I remembered seeing pineapple elsewhere in the store. I went searching and came across three different kinds: A fresh whole pineapple, fresh slices in the cold case and frozen chunks. I have to admit, faced with the lack of what I expected and so many choices I was frozen with indecision. The whole pineapple was from Mexico. Not a long shipping distance. It was the most expensive choice at $3.99 and would likely cause huge amounts of leftovers that I may forget to eat. It would be the most labor intensive choice adding extra work to an already complicated cooking chore. The slices were from the Philippines. They were the next expensive choice at $3.29. Unfortunately, they looked as if they had been delivered on a slow boat from the Philippines. They were browned and soggy looking. The frozen chunks of mystery origin were cheap at $1.59. They looked good and I could use what I need and keep the rest frozen. My main worry was that frozen fruit would weep too much liquid and end up making my pizza soggy. I stood still frozen in indecision. What was wrong with me?
In the book Affluenza, I learned that the typical grocery store now contains over 30,000 items. The book quoted psychologist Barry Schwartz who in his book Paradox of Choice says that having so many choices causes us stress and unhappiness. Having so many choices can leave us feeling that we have made the wrong choice. Was that what was happening to me? Was I being overwhelmed by too many options? Was I worried that having to use a different product than what I expected to use would cause problems?
When I stopped to think about it, all three choices were just pineapple. The only thing distinguishing them were convenience, freshness and place of origin. It was a choice. A simple choice, right? I bought the whole pineapple. It was beautiful to look at. I know it will be fresh and handled in a clean environment. I will be able to cut the fruit to order for pizza and other uses. In the long run, the fresh fruit gave me more choices, but they are my choices, which makes me happy.