Johns Hopkins Magazine -- June 2000
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JUNE 2000



S C I E N C E    &    T E C H N O L O G Y

Predators Promise
Author's Note

One of the secular pleasures of my life until recently has involved grocery shopping. Not the entire act of shopping, but, specifically, the moment of cruising down the double-wide grocery store aisle whose shelves bow with the mega-size items: king-size bottles of ketchup, gargantuan boxes of cereal, 42 rolls of toilet paper sold as one shrink-wrapped package. I rarely purchased any of those items. I'd simply gaze, occasionally imagining what it would be like to have a family (or appetite) SO large that you had to buy a shrink-wrapped set of 12 cans of tuna fish on a regular basis.

I'll admit that my pasttime is obscure, if not inexplicable. Perhaps those aisles simply afford me a sort of vicarious gluttony.

In any case, those merry days of giant-watching are over. A few months ago, when I went searching for my $2.99 over-size bag of pretzels (one of the rare giant-size products I actually purchase), I found in its usual place a $27.99 bottle of multi-vitamins. The transformation had begun.

Since then, my grocer has removed each mega-size item to make way for an astounding array of multi-vitamins, cat's claw, echinacea, gingko, cartilage, and the like, and paperback books celebrating the benefits of each pill. So far the little brown bottles have not captivated me the way the king-size products did. But who knows, perhaps they too will stir my imagination. Here's a first thought: If a nutritionist calculated the total nutritional value (vitamins, minerals, etc.) of all the mega-size products that previously occupied my store's center aisle and of the dietary supplements that currently occupy them, how would the two sets of figures compare?
-Melissa Hendricks