Grocery store shopping: Everyone does it, but not everyone knows what goes on behind the scenes.
But now Payson fourth-grade students do.
On Friday, March 7, 160 students from Rim Country schools learned how the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures (ADWM) monitors the scales and scanners in a grocery store.
Members of the ADWM partnered with Bashas’ grocery store in Payson to walk students through the meat and produce departments to understand how food is weighed, what customers pay, and how scales and scanners are checked.
“We make sure the devices in the meat department and check out counter are accurate,” said Cesar Rodriguez of the ADWM.
He said if ADWM inspectors find a discrepancy, they can either issue a warning to fix the problem in 30 days or in extreme cases, close down the business.
“Usually it’s a new manager that was never told what to do and they are happy to fix the problem,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez and his team have spread out through Arizona to hold similar seminars in grocery stores throughout the state. They aim to celebrate Arizona Weights and Measures Week declared by Governor Jan Brewer.
This year marks the 215th anniversary of the signing of the first Weights and Measures law in the United States on March 2, 1799.
Rodriguez and his crew explained to the fourth-grade students, who have just finished up a unit on measurement, that weighing things started centuries ago when people wanted to make sure they were getting a fair trade.
To illustrate, two students stood in front of the class and pretended to hold an armful of fish and an armful of oranges.
“Now, if the oranges weighed more than the fish, would you feel that was a fair trade?” Rodriguez asked.
“Noooo!” said the students.
“Well, that’s why scales were invented, to make sure people felt they were getting a fair trade,” he said.
After their introduction, the students broke up into groups to head off to the produce department where they learned if buying in bulk or individual pieces was the better economic choice. At the meat department, the students learned that “tear,” what they call packaging, must never be included in the unit price because people can’t eat it. At the checkout counter, students scanned items searching for the mislabeled price on an item.
Rodriguez even showed the students the importance of recycling all the plastics from the store.
“One of our employees made a bag to use as a purse,” said Rodriguez showing the students a bag that seemed crocheted with a button to keep the top closed.
Another item was a rug. All of the goods were made out of plastic grocery bags.
The teachers love the chance for hands-on learning.
“It gives a purpose for what were teaching,” said Gina Brooks.