My husband and I are way into the food we eat and the food we put into the body of our two-and-a-half-year-old. We’re vegetarians, and we’re totally those vegetarians. I don’t mind if you eat meat, and I won’t make you feel bad about it, but if we get into a convo about what’s in the meat that most people eat I’ll totally bust out some facts on you that you’d probably rather ignore.
I’m only bringing this up because it makes what I’m about to say a little bit… contradictory. While we have several quality grocery stores that sell all kinds of delicious, organic, 100% good-for-you kind of food, we tend to opt to shop at our local supermarket instead. And by local, I don’t mean locally-grown, I mean… right down the street.
We don’t do this because it’s close per se — the location is part of the appeal, but that’s because John, the man who owns the store, employs people who live in and around our immediate area. His store services people who live near us, and we routinely see the same people working and the same people shopping. Several of his employees know our names, the name of our child, the names of our house mates, what we do for our livings, what kind of music we like, and the food we tend to buy.
This supermarket isn’t the best, visually-speaking: instead of super fancy bright white lights, it’s got your standard pretty-old, kind-of-dingy, sort-of-always-blinking fluorescents. The floor is clean but a little yellowed from years of feet walking over it, and there are approximately six aisles in the whole thing. I’m pretty sure you can’t find organic anything there, and the groceries that are in stock tend to be a little overpriced — after all, you could go down the street to a gigantic box store if you wanted. If you’re shopping at John’s, you’re choosing to be there and choosing to pay $4-$5 for those bagged collard greens that you’re still going to have to wash yourself (because seriously, who KNOWS what was on them).
He has exactly one location: there aren’t even local alternative locations like other supermarkets native to our city. Posters with that catch phrase from a zillion years ago (“Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.”) line the walls, and the best wine you’re going to find will cost you $5 and some change — but you can score some pretty righteous alternatives for $2.
It’s a curious thing, really: for years I told myself not to even look at the organic food in grocery stores because I thought I couldn’t afford it. After we got married, my husband and I started intentionally buying as much organically as we could, and we kept that up for a while. It seemed a little pricey, but nothing that we couldn’t swing, and we were still very much in college when we wed almost five years ago.
When I was pregnant with our son I was totally on a high horse about what went in my body, but we were also totally broke, so we started experimenting with the quality of food we bought. Like, was it really so bad for me that my spinach wasn’t organic since I was eating spinach in the first place? Probably not — a vegetable’s a vegetable, no? So when we started renting our current house, conveniently located near the grocery store we once snubbed as college students, we started meandering over to see what we could find.
Our discovery has been this: we’re both more than happy to buy Ragu alfredo sauce if it means we’re buying it from a cashier (Rebecca) who knows our names, asks how our son is doing, and then inquires about my photography business to see if it’s still going. We’re totally stoked to pick up those bagged collard greens I mentioned because we’re supporting a man who lives within a few streets of us. And I’ll be damned if I stop going to the only grocery store in my neighborhood that has kid-sized shopping carts, because that means my kid feels independent and happy, and I don’t have to try to track down the only cart with a fucking blue car attached to it in a massive, too-big-for-anyone parking lot.