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I consider myself a savvy shopper.  I can read a label with the best of them.  I can pronounce azodicarbonamide.  I even know what it is.  (So can you by clicking here).  I hunt out casein wherever it may be hiding and an egg white binder has yet to slip passed my eagle eye.  And yet, I bought two bottles of Califia Farms almond milk.  Not at the same time.  I bought the unsweetened almond milk first.  I bought the toasted coconut almond/coconut blend after.  And why?  Why did I stretch to my full height and pluck a bottle off of the highest shelf?  Why, when it was a brand I’d never tried before and more familiar brands were within easy reach?

Because the packaging was pretty.  I saw the bottle on the highest shelf in the non-dairy case lit from above like rays from heaven.  The light cradled the bottle’s graceful curves, causing the bottle to glow.  I heard a voice say ‘I’m wonderful and refreshing.  You know you want to buy me’.  I do, I thought.  My hand reached up of its own accord and lifted the bottle down.  Must have…the precious.

It’s a sad realization.  Despite my noble principles and lofty ideals, I’m a sucker for pretty packaging.  I tell myself it wasn’t really the packaging; that I got it on sale, that it was only a few cents more than the brand I usually buy, that I’m supporting growers dedicated to sustainable agricultural practices.  All of that is true but I didn’t know about the sustainable practices at the time.  I bought it because the packaging caught my eye and I could taste cold, creamy, almond milk right there in the grocery store.  I did flip the bottle over and find the Non-GMO Verified Project label and the Vegan label which somewhat assuaged my conscience.

I understand that packaging is designed to catch our attention, especially children by bright colors and cartoon characters, but I thought my adulthood put me beyond all that.  It doesn’t.  I’m fortunate that Califia Farms lives up to the promise of its packaging and I have plans to re-use the bottles. Now that I’ve read up on them I’ll buy more Califia Farms products and don’t regret my purchases, but it was a good realization to make.  I am as attracted to pretty colors and graceful lines as anyone which means I must be vigilant about reading those labels and research, research, research.