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Artificial Intelligence vs. Bulk Rice

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Last week, I attended the NRF ’24 Retails Big Show, the major gathering of the retail sector. Held every January in New York, the Retails Big Show is a crucial event for keeping up with the constantly evolving retail industry trends.

The main agenda of this year’s event, like in all other sectors, was technological advancements and artificial intelligence. The shared valuable information indicates that the retail sector will undergo a rapid transformation with the development of artificial intelligence. While artificial intelligence solutions such as robots, smart shelves, and in-store theft prevention were being discussed, there was a different reality outside.

During my visits to retail stores in the California region, I noticed some markets, although not very common, that have started selling many food products in bulk. This practice used to be widespread in our country as well, and products like rice and legumes were sold openly by weight, not in ready-packaged form. In the district where I spent my childhood, I remember that in my father’s grocery store, grains, legumes, and even products like Turkish coffee were weighed and given to the customer in bulk according to their request. I even recall a weekly yogurt bazaar in a certain area of the town where various types of yogurt were sold in bulk by weight.

Similarly, the products sold in these supermarkets are not limited to just rice and legumes. You can buy a variety of products, from tea to coffee, oils to butter, nuts to molasses and honey, by filling them in easily decomposable paper bags or containers, and weighing them according to your needs. One of the main reasons for this new trend is to contribute to the environment and sustainability by reducing the use of plastic packaging.

Another practice that caught my attention for environmental conservation in San Francisco, which was the significant reduction in the use of plastic bottled water. People carry their water in their own bottles and can refill them from publicly accessible drinking water fountains when they run out. This way, the use of plastic bottles is significantly reduced.

I believe that such practices will become even more widespread in the coming years.

These newly discovered habits in different cultures seem quite similar to some forgotten behavioral patterns in our culture, don’t they? For example, chatting and socializing a bit while weighing the products we buy according to our needs; drinking water from street fountains or using the water bottles we carry when thirsty.

Could the key to sustainability be a return to the basics?

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