If it is free, should you take it?

free foodWe live in a Costco free-sample world, if it is free, we grab it without a second thought, is that good for us?

If something is offered to us and it is entirely free, should we take it? It is amazing to me when I go to Costco on Saturday mornings. Some people will wait in line, or push in front of you, just for a free very small piece of frozen pizza.

However, it’s quite obvious from their (my) waistline there are few people starving, but always in want of more. If you observe the customers at Costco, they appear to be doing okay financially. They have nice clothes, and the parking lots seldom has older junk cars, in fact I notice a lot of really nice cars that cost $50,000 to $75,000 and more. It’s strange to see financially well off people elbowing for scraps of food. How would these people behave if our country went through real food shortages?

The amount of food given away there Saturdays is quite astonishing. You can literally skip lunch and get an adequate 500 calorie meal just passively walking around the store once or twice. I have a pre-determined path I circle. I head towards the meat area after I buy produce. I get a sample of meat, cheese or smoked salmon, and then head towards the dairy section, hoping to grab prepared meal kind of food sample. On a good day I’ll find a drink sample to wash down a little free humus or salsa on a designer cracker or chip. As I head to the biggest refrigerator/freezer section on the planet, there will surely be at least three more things to eat. Sometimes a vendor is giving away samples of perogi, or smoothies, or what ever new product they are pushing. At the end of each freezer/refrigerator is someone cooking a good smelling high calorie or fat, processed yummy blob in an over-sized toaster oven or electric skillet. The ultimate free-food victory is achieved if you pass the frozen pizza as it is being removed from the oven, and no one is in line. If you are out of luck, six people are ahead of you, and they grab extra samples to feed their spouse and kids. Dessert can sometimes by had, in the form of chocolate covered Acai berries or toffee, as you aim for the shortest check-out line. Isn’t this all gross?

In writing this, I am coming to terms with this insane middle-class free-food eating frenzy. It’s like a school of piranha attacking a bleeding carcass of animal that fell into the Amazon, or a gam of sharks, feeding on a deceased floating whale.  I eat these free-food samples, even though I have no intent of ever buying them, just because I am a glutton. I always over-consume free food, like when at a potluck I always over indulge. However, from now on I  am going to stop doing so, unless I am really considering the purchase.

Doesn’t this all tell us about something much bigger in life and in ourselves? Nothing free is really free, except for grace. Even every free thing comes with a cost to someone, like the store I am taking advantage of, to my character for taking something I don’t need or didn’t intend to consider, or to my bulging waistline. Then there’s the cost to the concept of no benefit unless there’s work. Gluttons like me always want more, and this isn’t good character. I don’t want my mind to constantly have a free-so-grab attitude, or to feed my tendency for gluttony when passing the potluck line, or free sample island at the grocery. From the moment I write this sentence, I vow to curb this kind of gluttony: I vow to only try a free sample if considering its purchase, not eat too much at potlucks, not over-order food when someone else is picking up the check. My character is at stake and my work ethic is being compromised. The health of my mind, spirit and body  is infected by my free-grab-more habit. The free for all, without work is not good, and leads to an attitude of entitlement. I vow to resist this, and am asking God for help. If you can relate to this, please comment below.

There is one last thing to consider, and that is the more we sample, the more we buy things off-budget. Meaning, the most economical way to shop is to use a list, and only buy according to your plan. However, studies show that when we sample food, we end up buying them- so there is a cost. For more information about this, read this article in the Atlantic.

Bible references:

  • In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching[a] you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (Thessalonians 3:6-10).
  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15)
  • For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags (Proverbs 23:21)

 

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