“No, I just taste one,” our friend explained.
D___ questioned, “Before you paid for it? And with no way to account for how much to pay for it?”
“I guess so,” she said.
“I do too,” I said.
“Really? Who else?” D___ asked.
Most of us around that circle taste a single grape before buying a whole bunch. The consensus of the group reassured me that I wasn’t breaking a social taboo by my sampling.
“What else?” D__ asked, “Do you ‘taste’ before buying?"
Nothing. I think to myself, just as our friend S___ says, “Strawberries.”
I exclaim, “You eat a whole strawberry before buying a basket of them?!”
She nods, “Same principle as the grape.”
In my head I think, Oh no, that is stealing.
In that moment I realize how arbitrary many social norms are and how we aren’t even aware of when and how we learned them. I’m sure my mom tasted grapes in the store, but didn’t taste strawberries. That’s why one's okay with me and the other isn't.
One thing I love about being with people that aren’t just like me is that I get an opportunity to see my own internal biases and assumptions. Sometimes I don’t know what I really believe until I’m faced with its opposite. This reminds me of a bumper sticker that’s popular around here: Don’t believe everything you think.
I still taste a grape before committing to buy a whole bunch, but now I’m aware of the moral complexity of that act as I do it, turning an ordinary trip to the grocery store into a spiritual practice.