Food, Yarn, & Stuff

“Local” Grocery Stores

Posted on: June 28, 2011

So, I wanted to write about this – and I’m not sure why, or what the purpose of this post is.  But, sometimes I wish we lived in a smaller town and actually had a ‘local’ grocer.  I live in the suburban sprawl… “local” has a different meaning here.  It’s purely the store that’s most convenient for your regular shopping, and usually a ‘big corporate’ grocery store.  I feel like there are pluses and minuses to this type of environment.  It’s convenient – if I need something, it’s only a 10 minute round trip drive to get to the store.  There’s also almost always a grocery store of some sort ‘on my way home’ from any direction, so again… convenient!  However, I feel like because of convenience I’ve become complacent and I’ve stuck with shopping at places I haven’t been happy with just because they’re convenient!

I’m in the Chicago area – so our ‘locals’ are Jewel-Osco (Supervalu is the corporate), Dominick’s (Safeway is the corporate) – although not specifically convenient to my home, Meijer, Target, and Super-Walmart.  Then there are the ‘specialty’ grocery stores – Whole Foods (about 9 miles away) and Trader Joe’s (about 6 miles away).

My reason for writing about this comes from my experience this past weekend.  My kids are on summer break – and I refuse to take them grocery shopping!  So, that means I shop either during the week after 8pm or some time on the weekend, sometimes also after 8pm.  This past weekend I went to the Jewel which is about a mile and a half from my home to do my shopping.  My last couple trips there I had been pleasantly surprised with the produce after having a number of bad experiences over the 6+ years that we’ve lived here.  I’m trying to do my best to buy as many fresh items as possible for my weekly shopping.  So, I was trying my best to get the majority of my shopping done in the produce section of the store.  Unfortunately for me, apparently my particular Jewel has given up caring about their produce!  Everything I wanted to buy was visibly rotten sitting there on the shelf!  Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend 3 hours at the grocery store picking through every package of strawberries or bag of grapes looking for one that’s not already moldy!  So, I gave up on the ‘fresh’ approach to this shopping trip and ended up spending my money on Amy’s Organic canned chili’s and some other non-fresh items to try to use up other pantry items that I already have at home.  I ended up spending about the same amount of money that I would have spent at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s and gotten fresh, healthful items that would be lunches, snacks, and dinners for my family!

[A side story to my Jewel trip – as I entered their ‘organic’ aisle and a half I noticed something on a shelf that really, and I mean really didn’t belong there!  It was a package of ground beef.  It had obviously been sitting there for quite some time, the meat was brown and the package was room temperature… ick! So, I picked it up and took it over to the guy who was closing up the meat counter and told him that I found it over by the organic stuff.  He said “Oh, thanks.” And, then as he walked it back through the doors to the back he looked back and jokingly said “So, you think it’s still good?” Um… not funny!  And, I replied “that’s why I don’t eat meat!”]

The ironic thing I noticed last night while driving in the car listening to the radio was the abundance of commercials for Jewel touting their ‘guaranteed fresh’ produce… apparently my store hasn’t gotten the memo on that!  And I know that there was a recent controversy that arose when couponing people noticed many shelved expired products at local Dominick’s stores.  I know that all my neighbors say they don’t shop at Jewel because their produce just plain sucks – maybe that’s the reason for all the ads, but if you’re stores aren’t backing up the advertising… it’s just wasted money people!

So, while Trader Joe’s is a great store they’re small, and have a pretty limited selection when it comes to weekly groceries – or at least my regular shopping.  We don’t have a Super Target, just a ‘regular’ Target which has some produce, but a lot of cheese and dairy (and NO alternative dairy products – not even soy yogurt that I’ve seen).  And, I just refuse to shop at WalMart for many reasons.  I’ll give Meijer a try next week, since they’re a ‘bigger’ grocery store and might have some ‘alternative’ products.  We’ll see how it goes.  But, maybe a little extra spending in the grocery budget will get me the quality I want for feeding my family (and make me less likely to eat out because all that’s in the kitchen is canned chili or lentils!)  Maybe I need to check out Peapod grocery delivery again – I never had a problem with their produce.  Their prices were comparable, I just don’t like paying for delivery when I drive a vehicle that gets 40 mpg I can get my own groceries for less transportation cost!

How do you feel about your ‘local’ grocery stores? Or do you stick to farmer’s markets for your produce, and just get pantry and home items from the ‘box’ stores?

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