A Shopper's Day

Armed with a list of six items, TIME Moscow correspondent Ann Blackman set out last week to see what Soviet consumers experience when they try to buy even the most basic goods. On Blackman's list: beef, apples, carrots, sugar, laundry soap and toothpaste.

12:30 p.m. I go into a two-counter shop near my apartment. One bin holds small yellowish apples that have played host to a worm or two. Ten minutes later I find better apples at a private stand. I wait in line three minutes and buy a dozen at $1.88 per lb.

12:45 p.m. At a grocery store that...

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