I haven’t done one of these “No Grocery Store” posts for quite some time. It has become a way of life, not so much a “challenge” any more. I have been to the grocery store a few times in the last nearly two years. When my canning compulsion took hold, I went to the store and bought gallons of vinegar and some organic sugar. I have since ordered the organic sugar online in bulk. My regular dairy source, Way Back When, disappeared from the farmer’s market, but still delivers to Wheatsville, so I picked up some cream for a recipe not long ago. I usually just use goat milk from the farmer’s market or Boggy Creek Farm, but now and again, one needs cream. Wheatsville also carries just about everything Richardson Farms produces, and on that same visit, I also got some Richardson Farms sausage, to take to a BBQ. I don’t really consider this a “cheat” since I purchased locally produced things I could get at the farmer’s market. I had forgotten and was amazed by the aisle upon aisle of boxed food. One of the unexpected consequences of shopping from the farmer’s markets has been the lack of packaging, leading to nearly zero waste.
People still bring me avocados, usually as hostess gifts when I host a gathering, or in trade for some of my home canned goods. On occasion, I’ll request lemons from my folks when they go to the store, as my own seem to be slow to ripen. One cannot live without citrus, I find. Once my lemons ripen, I will juice some and freeze the juice for later use. Same with the limes.
This weekend, I hosted a birthday cocktail party, for which David Alan of the notorious Tipsy Texans made cocktails. My shopping list for the cocktails included bulk fresh squeezed lemon juice and grapefruit juice, which prompted a trip to Central Market. I used to love, love, love Central Market and Whole Foods, and made trips to both every couple of days, before I started my all local challenge. I adored both stores equally but for different reasons. Certainly the variety was a big draw for me.
When I went on Saturday, the parking lot was full and on my first try, I was unable to park. I drove around for what seemed like an hour. People seemed hostile and angry, in a hurry and just not very pleasant at all. I actually abandoned my effort and went home, frustrated. I returned several hours later, hoping for a different result. I was finally able to park, albeit far from the store entrance. Once inside, I found the bulk lemon juice, but they were out of grapefruit juice, so I bought several huge grapefruits to squeeze myself. I had no intention of resorting to commercial juice, made from fruit of unknown provenance. Since I was already in the store, I decided to pick up some smoked salmon, for my gathering. I waited for a while, forgetting that one needed to pull a number. Once I remembered and pulled number 9, I waited about 20 minutes while the busy folks sliced deli meat and cheese for those before me. I nearly abandoned the wait, finding it rather miserable just standing around, but I really wanted the smoked salmon to round out my menu, especially since I suspected there were pescetarians on my invite list. As I waited for a busy stranger to wrap up my salmon, I couldn’t help but compare the experience to my beloved farmer’s market, where I am normally greeted with a hug and a story about goings on at the farm, or updates on farmer/artisan family life. I have a personal relationship with nearly everyone who grows/raises/produces my food now. A trip to the farmer’s market normally includes chance meetings with many of my dear friends, as well. My Saturday morning has become a social event that I look forward to as one of the highlights of my week, as have my farm visits. I consider several of our local farmers, my family. This grocery store trip was actually quite miserable, and I couldn’t wait for my turn in the check out line to come, so I could hike to my car and get home. Sure, folks working there were cordial enough, but it was not the same.
The last 21 months has seen many food recalls, a massive ground turkey recall, huge egg recalls, deadly listeria yielding melons, several beef recalls, a revelation that the apple juice in children’s juice boxes contains unreasonable levels of arsenic, sourced from China and Argentina, and I don’t even remember what else. Each time a new food born problem makes the news, I think, “wow, I’m glad I don’t have to worry about that.”
I don’t want to worry about those things. I don’t want to wonder what’s in my food, or where it came from. I don’t want to eat food that has been manufactured, manipulated, produced, or packaged. I don’t want to eat antibiotics, chemical fertilizer and growth hormones. I don’t want to eat food from animals who have been inhumanely raised. I don’t want to eat food made by a corporate entity. I don’t want to fight for parking. I don’t want to wait in line. I don’t want to pull a number. I don’t want to go back to the grocery store.
Thank goodness I don’t have to.