Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Grocery Store Blues.

Going to the grocery store can feel like such an ordeal. I never realized how completely chaotic American supermarkets were until I live in Florence Italy. For a semester I shared a mini fridge with four other girls, thus requiring us to do our grocery shopping on a day to day basis. Our veggies were always fresh and there were plenty of small markets and grocery shops every couple blocks. We'd go to one for our fruits and pasta, one for dairy, cereal and veggies, and another for bread and wine. At first I hated the lack of selection in one central location, and using the currency completely intimidated me, but within a month I was in love. Life was simplified... for a while, until I moved back home. The first time back in an American grocery store I had a panic attack. I walked in and completely forgot what I was there for. Nothing was in a logical place, and when I called my Mom crying and asking why she sent me, she said "Just get hot dogs". So I cautiously walked over to the processed meat section and once again panic covered me like a blanket. There had to be at least twenty different varieties of hot dogs! I just picked up the first one I saw that said "all beef" and got out of there as fast as I could.

My pastor once said, "Part of being from the U.S. is learning how to manage abundance." But learning how to manage the overwhelming variety can feel impossible at times. I see this problem everywhere in the states, and in other big "globalized" cities around the world. This isn't as much as a complaint as an observation. I love America and I love our Capitalist drive, and our nature to compete and try to do it better - this is not a "pro-Europe" rant at all. As much as I loved living abroad there are many many problems that Europe is facing, and if it wasn't for the tourism industry that lives off the glory of their past most of those countries would be in a world of hurt right now. This entry is only an observation about a simple thing like going grocery shopping that can seem to consume half a day.

The American grocery store is a perfect example of why as a nation we are so stressed out because we have too much to choose from. But there is hope! Recently there are some companies that have come out of the woodwork that have worked hard to address his exact problem. Trader Joe's is a God send, I am convinced. It's affordable and offers just enough. It was hard for me to make the switch at first and it did feel like there wasn't enough variety, but now I am hooked. Trader Joe's is as close to Mom and Pop as we're gonna get here in Northern Virginia (without having to pay an arm and a leg). Also local farmer's markets are a wonderful place to go, and often they do have a variety of vendors to pick from. Just make sure you go first thing in the morning to either, specifically when going on a weekend because by around 10 am there are hoards of people crowding isles of Trader Joe's and the streets of farmer's markets. Happy shopping! And one more thing ladies... don't spend your grocery money on shoes!


  1. As I was reading I was thinking that is why I love Trader Joe's and then your next sentence expressed my thoughts exactly. I completely agree we have too many options!

    Happy Shopping!

  2. Well... maybe for shoes :o) if you're willing to eat salad for a week it might be worth it! :o)