What’s your grocery look like?

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Some people say that the Internet is made of cats.

However, I think voyeurism is a major fuel for the Internet. Especially for a site like Offbeat Home: sure, a tutorial here or a smart lifehack there is great, but what you really want is to see the interesting ways people live. Some of them are different from you because they live in another country, some of them have a polyamorous relationship and their boyfriend and girlfriend come to stay with them every weekend, and some of them live in a house completely unlike your own.

My point is this: everyone wants to know what your life looks like (not just your home), so we’ll start here:

Show us your grocery store!

Write it up, take a photo, or send me a blog post you’ve already written. I want to see them all.

Here’s one of my groceries:

I paid a stupid-cheap price for a half pound of blue cheese here last week.

This is Graziano’s. They’ve been around Des Moines’ south side foreverrrr and sell the best cheeses, sauces, spices, pasta noodles, and olive oils around. They’re also famed for their sausage, but I don’t know thing one about that. The store smells like Italian spice and I have a hard time not buying everything.

DIAGONALLY-FRAMED ACTION SHOT! I didn't want the cheese man to know I was snapped his photo, so I tried to act casual.

They’re a teeny store, but we eat a ton of the stuff they carry so it’s not a hassle. And? Since they’ve been around for 60 years, I’m pretty sure the family long ago paid off their mortage, so I can buy gourmet-level food for Kraft prices.

Your turn! Here’s a little project for the week: show us your grocery store! You can email me at [email protected] or post it in our Offbeat Home Flickr group by this Sunday, June 12th. We’ll share our favorites next week!

Comments on What’s your grocery look like?

  1. Love this idea! My grocery store is boring, though. I do have two comments to share about grocery stores:

    1.) I get an extra kick when Family Guy makes New England grocery store references. IGA was referenced a few eps ago, and they’ve featured Stop & Shop as well.

    2.) Speaking of Stop & Shop, I once was in VA searching out Cheerwine based on a friend’s recommendation, and I walked into a Giant brand grocery store. Distracted by how much the marketing was like S&S, I walked down the main aisle and then turned to the 5th without thinking…and there I was, smack dab in the soda aisle. Without reading a single sign, it hit me that the Giant is exactly how my S&S is laid out. Freaky.

    I can’t wait to see the pics!

    • We had an IGA in Michigan when I was growing up, it was great and morphed into the best butcher in town.

    • Stop and Shop and Giant must be owned by the same mega conglomeration or something, because they are so similar. Even the names of store brands like “Nature’s Promise” are the same. I think, in fact, that the vast majority of supermarket chains are owned by only a handful of companies.

      We shop at Wegmans, which is blessedly convenient to my husband’s commute, and the house we are trying to buy is near an Aldi which has me thrilled. Not picturesque, but cheap.

      • They are! I’ve gone to Giant many times and found “Stop and Shop” brand stuff in the generic “Giant” products.

  2. LOL that’s too funny about sneaking a picture of the cheese guy. I often wonder if bloggers ask people if they can take their pic for a blog or if they ninja it.

    • Total tangent: I wonder every day how to solve this dilemma. Technically, I should be getting a release from everyone I photograph, unless I think I can defend it as news. I’m not worried about photographing strangers — and I actually ask most of the time — but I feel like I need to send a waiver out to all my friends and acquaintances. They’ve gotten pretty used to being photographed covertly, but I sometimes wonder if anyone has an issue with being blogged about just because they showed up at my house.

      Other option: Photographic waiver t-shirt. “If you can read this, you are giving consent to be blogged about.”

      • The way I understand it legal-wise, if you’re in a public place, consent is assumed so long as you’re respecting a reasonable level of personal privacy–not photographing someone in a bathroom or in a changing room, for instance. Waivers are handy for 1.) minors and 2.) if you intend to sell the work, thereby profiting from someone’s personal image. But if you wanted to lawyer up on it, legal precedent is almost unanimously on your side unless you’re causing undue stress, breaking the law or causing harm to the subject in order to GET the photo.
        So long as you’re willing to remove an image if someone complains (not legally required–just a niceity,) then you’re within your rights to photograph ANYONE in public.
        Inside a store CAN be considered private property. However, it’s easily argued as public.
        And if the venue happens to be your home and property? Consent is assumed. Potentially, if you’re hosting gatherings at your house, maybe a sign, poster or note on invitations is a nice way to handle this. WARNING: YOU WILL BE PHOTOGRAPHED AND BLOGGED ABOUT. IF THIS IS A PROBLEM, LET ME KNOW NOW. THANKS I LOVE YOU BYE.

        The website I work for deals in photographing people at events (meaning inside mostly-public venues) and on the street, and our lawyers assure us… we and our photographers are totally in the clear.

        There’s always examples of exceptions, but I’m going to assume that you’re probably not being a huge dick to get the photos you take. Probably the worst thing you might encounter would be someone sending you a Cease & Desist on an image, which means politely removing the image from your website/blog.

        LONG PSEUDO-LEGAL POST END.

        • I’d like to note that your local laws may vary – I’m not too sure what, say, the Australian position is on this sort of thing, but I know copyright law here can be quite different from the US.

          • TOTALLY right–should’ve prefaced that all of what I said applies ONLY to the United States.
            There are a lot of countries that are far more protective of individual likenesses while there are some countries where the law doesn’t touch this sort of issue. Before you shoot, learn the law. Ignorance of the law won’t protect you in court!

          • Australian law is similar, in fact here you can even film people without their consent as long as there’s no audio – it’s illegal to record someone without their permission.

            There was a case of a landlord installing a secret camera in a tenant’s toilet (wtf?) but from memory he wasn’t charged because it had no audio – therefore it wasn’t considered an invasion of privacy (also wtf!).

            I only have a cursory knowledge of law from a journalism perspective, so I’m certainly not an authority on the subject!

      • Wow! In Australia consent laws on photos are lax, although ethically it’s very advisable to get release forms from the parents of children if you’re taking their photos. Otherwise shooting photos in public spaces would be next to impossible. Imagine trying to grab every single person walking through a shot to get them to sign a form!

  3. Mine are super boring – small town, not a whole lot of Mom and Pop stores. BUT I did notice yesterday that there’s a new Health Foods Store downtown, so I’ll have to go check that out!

  4. I can’t get over how big the grocery stores are everywhere else … in Yonkers (20 mins from NYC)our stores are just the right size … visiting friends in PA I got lost in the dairy section!

  5. I’ll have to get pics of Maggie’s Pharm here in Memphis – SUCH a cool store for herbs, spices, teas, and coffees!

  6. Our “grocery store” is a combination of our CSA pickup, a (the?) Community Supported Kitchen with a weekly pickup, the farmer’s market, and tiny Natural Grocery for the rare goods not found elsewhere… Would you be interested in pics of these, or should I take “grocery” more literally and only shoot the last?

    • Absolutely. We want to see where you get your food, no matter how offbeat.

    • Can I just say that I’m -especially- interested in this sort of thing?
      My grocery store is a local chain and I was shocked to get SUPER EXOTIC THINGS like blood oranges and kiwano melons this year. But somehow, the raspberries have disappeared? Haha.

  7. I only shop in boring crappy chain stores for groceries as they are the ones within walking distance.
    however I am doing well with some not-so-extreme couponing if you are interested?!

    • That’s okay! Get creative! What do you enjoy about your store? What do you hate about it? What does make it different? Do you have an interesting clerk? A favorite section? A label that makes you laugh?

  8. My grocery store looks like a computer screen because we order our stuff on-line through Pea Pod (which is the Stop and Shop on-line system)and have it delivered. We think it’s awesome because we live in a city and don’t have a car, both work two jobs, but still want to cook most nights. It saves us a lot of time- you literally can click on a button that says, “Buy everything I bought last time,” if you want. It also prevents us from buying things we don’t need because we don’t walk down aisles and get attracted by shiny objects. Plus it totally eliminated a major source of conflict in our marriage, as we no longer stand around impatiently while the other reads the back of cereal boxes for fiber count.

    • We order our groceries online, too (Grocery Gateway here) for exactly the same reasons. It’s fantastic – they have a great selection, including local and organic stuff (though it doesn’t replace a farmer’s market, of course). We just need to stop at a health-food store or a drugstore every couple of weeks to supplement our orders.

      I’ve been eyeing a food box drop-off program — anyone have experience with that?

  9. Can we do local restaurants, at some point? A lot of our markets here are very corporate chain/mainstream, but I frequent a vegan cafe with an anarchist bookstore attached. *:P Coolest place in Stockholm!

  10. How about food pantries? We wouldn’t be able to survive without them! I visit 3 or 4 of them locally during different times of the month depending on our need…

  11. ooh I hope someone photographs Stew Leonards – I love that place 🙂 but I’ve only ever been twice, I just run round like a little kid pressing all the buttons to make the cows do moo and the milk cartons sing . oh and eating ALL the free samples!! nom nom nom

  12. Oooh! I blogged the other day about my purchases from the local farm market as we shop mostly at farm shops and farmers markets. Will take a few more shots of the actual stores before I mail you. One has a petting zoo type thing with various farm animals 🙂 and one has our allotment on it. I feel so blessed with where we live.

  13. Hah, shame I shop at super boring Morissons. I wish there were better local shops around here.

  14. My grocery store is the only thing I like about the town I live in, and the only thing I will miss when I move in August. It is a small local chain called Nugget and it is the best grocery store in the world. Hopefully I can get my crap together and do this!

  15. I go to pick up my CSA-like box from our local local-based grocery store tomorrow. I’ll try to remember my camera, because I’d love to show off what an amazing treasure we have in Columbia, MO.

    • Cool! I’m moving to Columbia in August for grad school. Where do you shop and is it reasonably priced for poor students?

      • Hurray for Columbia! You are going to love it for food. The place I’m talking about is called The Root Cellar (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Root-Cellar/145215295549870). Through the summer and fall, they have a crazy awesome deal called the Bounty Box that this summer is $28 a week. This week we got 2 pounds of rice, 2 cucumbers, 2 zucchini, 2 cucumbers, a yellow squash, 2 heads of lettuce, a giant bag of greens, 3 tomatoes, and a giant bunch of green onions! Last week was just as good, but the highlights were eggs, strawberries, asparagus and shitake mushrooms. Price-wise, they are pretty reasonable for grad students (my fiance is one, and I’m a homemaker).

        The farmers market runs year round here, too. The Saturday city summer market is, of course, the most impressive, but through the winter we got farm eggs for about $3 a dozen. In the summer we get them for $2.50 a dozen. There are also markets throughout the week, and the Boone County market is on Saturdays, too.

        In the summer, the Center for Urban Agriculture also has a stand for veggies and eggs, too.

        The local university extension has a ton of classes and information on things like preserving, and the city has community gardens that you can rent.

        When we moved here, we moved from Des Moines, Iowa. Our food bill went down from about $60 a week to $40 at the chain grocery stores. Since going more locavore, we are averaging between $30 and $40 a week during the summer months and getting about 2 times as much food than before.

        There’s a great Asian market just outside of town, too. And plenty of other stores with pretty competitive pricing.

        I could go on and on. Heh. The local food movement is my passion. 🙂 If I can help with any info, let me know, because sometimes finding the information on the internet about the happenings around here isn’t always the easiest. – meganne (at) maugustawoodland (dot) com.

  16. Alas, I also shop at chain stores. Then again, I live in the ‘burbs of Johannesburg, so that’s all we have.

    Perhaps I’ll post pics of my homogeneous shops just to up the African representation 😛

    • Yeah, are you kidding? I’m sure an African store will be fascinating to us!

  17. Send in your pics of the chain stores, everybody has a different chain store in their area. I live in Dayton, Ohio and grew up shopping at Kroger. I don’t recognize these other chain stores. When I went on vacation I was excited to see other stores even though they were chain stores, they are all different in small ways, which makes it fun.

    Also, I love food, and love going to get it. I shop on a regular basis at 3 health food stores, 2 local groceries, 2 chain stores, and the farmer’s market. Depending on need/time of year/mood. Love this idea, can’t wait to see what everyone shares!!

  18. I’m going to have to go out and ask the Imboden’s people if they’ll let me take photos. They’re too amazing not to share. Imboden’s was first and foremost a fantastic meat market, with the bakery, catering, and other sections newly added. The parking lot is always completely full.

  19. This is great timing, because my grocery is having their grand opening this Saturday. I live(d) in a USDA declared food desert, and our new co-op has opened this month after years of planning. Shopping since the soft opening has been exciting, but this weekend will seem like a community party.

  20. How has no one yet mentioned the wonder that is Wegmans? I went to college in central New York, and a Wegmans visit is always part of visiting my sister in Rochester.

    I’ll have to look and see if I have any photos of my supermarket in Japan. The fish section was pretty epic. (Sadly, I left for good last week and am in England now. Maybe our local award-winning butcher shop will let us take pictures?)

  21. I am totally missing out. We have 2 Hannafords and a Shaw’s, and of course the Evil Empire (Wal-Mart). Maine sucks as far as decent priced grocery stores go. The farmers market here is open for 2 hours a week, on Thursdays from 2-4, which means I can’t go, because I work during those hours. The 2 Hannaford’s both smell like fish as soon as you walk in, which is a sign that the seafood department is nasty, and there deli closes at 6pm. There is an IGA about 10 miles away and they have an amazing butcher with great pricing. If you ever come to Maine, don’t get your lobster at a restaurant or a supermarket, if you see a truck on the side of the road buy it there. Right now it’s 3.99/lbs off the boat. If you go to a store you’re paying about $12.00/lbs. RIP OFF!

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