In Praise Of Online Food Shopping


Mark Bittman daydreams about the future:

[Y]ou could ask and be told the provenance and ingredients of any product you look at in your Web browser. You could specify, for example, “wild, never-frozen seafood” or “organic, local broccoli.” You could also immortalize your preferences (“Never show me anything whose carbon footprint is bigger than that of my car”; “Show me no animals raised in cages”; “Don’t show me vegetables grown more than a thousand miles from my home”), along with any and all of your cooking quirks (“When I buy chicken, ask me if I want rosemary”).

Jonah Lehrer takes a different tack, lauding the Internet for removing the "hot" stimuli of junk food:

[W]e can ignore that pint of Haagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche when we're only looking at a picture of it. The stimulus has been cooled off by the online shopping experience - it's an abstraction, a mere image - which allows us to make more responsible shopping decisions. [...S]omeone should do a carefully controlled study looking at how our online supermarket decisions differ from our in person supermarket decisions. I'd bet that we make healthier choices when those tasty snacks are just photographs, shrunken to fit our computer screen.