To Market, To Market, To Buy A Hormone-Injected Pig…
On the long, long list of my personal peculiarities – amongst my strong dislike of being barefoot and uncanny ability to detect when a complete stranger is about to vomit – is my strong and undying love for grocery shopping. Yes, that’s right: going to the grocery store is an unusually pleasurable experience for me, and always has been. And no, this is not because I do my shopping at a place like this:
Oh, look, honey – anal beads are buy-one-get-one!
Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved going grocery shopping. I would happily accompany my parents to the store, list in hand, and help with everything from produce selection to assisting the baggers at the checkout.
“You think this is fun, kid? Well, YOU try to get laid on a bagger’s salary. Jesus.”
I even went so far as making up pretend grocery lists, filled with the things I imagined myself buying when I was all grown up and living in my totally rad big-city Lisa-Frank-inspired apartment where I lounged on my over-stuffed white leather sofa with my Rob-Lowe-lookalike possibly-famous-but definitely-rich boyfriend.
Is that a dangling earring I spy? Oh my God, you guys, my boyfriend is the coolest!
I don’t remember too much about those lists, although I’m pretty sure they contained things like fruit roll-ups and scented candles and Frankenberry cereal (which my mother always refused to buy). Actually, the only thing I clearly remember putting on the list was that generic, pink, milky generic dishwashing liquid. Nevermind that it’s pretty much identical to the soap that can be found in most gas station restrooms, it was PINK, and therefore part of my totally-rad-eye-of-the-tiger-grown-up-sexy-single-lady-in-the-big-city life.
Anyhoo, before I divulge more strange childhood fantasies, let’s get back to the issue at hand: my love of grocery shopping. I know it’s pathetic, but grocery shopping isn’t just a chore for me, it’s an event. I like to go on weekday evenings when I can, in order to avoid the crowds which tend to disrupt my flow. I’ve been known to spend upwards of two hours grocery shopping for TWO PEOPLE — I wind leisurely through the aisles, reading labels, ticking things off my list (which was lovingly prepared before I left the house), and pulling coupons from my coupon organizer (of course I have a coupon organizer). It’s completely relaxing for me, with the occasional exhilarating rush whenever I score the elusive store-special-plus-coupon savings.
YES YES OH GOD YES!
Grocery shopping also satisfies my somewhat thrifty [cheap-ass] nature…I get to use coupons, take advantage of sales, and most importantly, I’m buying FOOD – something we NEED – instead of buying clothes or shoes for myself, which – for me – always comes with a heapin’ helpin’ of buyer’s remorse. Although I am still feeling a little guilty about that $4 jar of gourmet pickled okra I bought yesterday…
Damn high-maintenance bitch…
Now, because grocery shopping is such an event in my life, I’m very picky about where I shop. Several stores have made my blacklist for offenses including (but not limited to):
- Not carrying the low-fat cheese that enables me to pretend I can eat as much as I want without exploding out of my jeans;
- That one time I saw a mouse in the bread aisle;
- Selling cucumbers that rot into a puddle of goo within 2 days;
- High frequency of loud arguments in the check-out lines, usually containing the phrase, “Bitch, you don’t know me!” and often spilling out into the parking lot, raising my probability of being shot while returning my cart to the cart corral.
And MAN, I don’t even want to talk about the grocery stores I had to patronize when we lived in Queens. Let’s just say that the one closest to our apartment was issued a citation by the health department for keeping cats in the same area where they prepared the raw meat.
Meow meow cat feces in your ground meat meow!
So, when we moved away from New York, I was immediately taken with the Very Large Local Chain grocery store that is based here, and I shop there pretty much exclusively. They’re a little more expensive than Store That Sells Rotten Produce or Store Where Gang Wars Break Out in The Express Lane, but spending a few cents more is worth it. Their food is always fresh, they carry all the brands I use, and they offer double coupons up to a dollar. Very Large Local Chain is my lady, and I make sweet food budget love to her every week.
However, I’m ashamed to admit that I regularly lust for the love of someone else. There is another woman who frequents my grocery daydreams. And her name is Whole Foods.
I love you, you dirty, dirty whore.
I had never been to a Whole Foods store before we moved here. There were a few in New York, but their marked absence of cats meant that they weren’t located anywhere near our neighborhood. I remember hearing wondrous tales of the Whole Foods salad bar – a mythical land where vegan Thai dumplings frolic with the organic edamame, where freshly prepared basil pesto pasta eagerly awaits your consumption, where one ne’er finds errant chickpeas floating in the French dressing. Surely, I thought, this can’t be true.
Oh, but it is. The salad bar, she is a wonderland. As is the rest of the damn place – there’s fresh, organic food that probably improves your health just by its proximity, genuinely friendly employees who do not glare at you in a manner that suggests they might like to put your head on the meat slicer, and lemon bars that I would do a lot of shameful things just for the privilege of consuming.
Mind giving me a ride to Whole Foods after this, daddy?
Alas, Whole Foods is not all free-range sunshine and whole-grain rainbows. That place is expensive, my friends. Really fucking expensive. As in I once bought a large container of pasta salad and it cost TWENTY FUCKING DOLLARS expensive. I mean, of course it is – their food is made with the highest-quality, freshest ingredients, and that shit ain’t cheap. But I am. And therein lies the problem.
Also? They don’t take coupons. Mostly because they don’t carry brands like Chef Boyardee, Lipton, or any of the millions of items manufactured by Proctor & Gamble. But no coupons = no chance at any kind of savings. Not even the imaginary, perceived savings I get when I use a coupon towards an item that has an inflated price to begin with. And this makes me a sad, sad clown.
Of course, I came to the realization that Whole Foods was too rich for my blood way back when we moved to the area, which was over 4 years ago. I stop there from time to time for a [$7.99/fucking pound] salad or some California rolls, but I’ve accepted the fact that I cannot do my weekly shopping there, unless I would like to be enjoying those delicious vegetarian samosas from my cozy new home beneath an interstate overpass.
This gluten-free muffin is delicious! I wonder if it would make a good blanket.
However, while I have come to terms with the fact that I cannot be a regular Whole Foods customer, there are some folks I know who feel compelled to shame me for shopping at Very Large Local Chain, where I am buying poisonous foodstuffs that will surely riddle me with cancer and sores within the week. I get regularly bombarded with the “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” lecture, and was once downright scolded for admitting that I eat instant Quaker oatmeal.
I took the fall for you, you peace-loving asshole.
One of these charming people is a part-time Whole Foods employee who loves to inform me of the toxic chemicals I consume via JIF peanut butter that are probably rendering me sterile. And while I appreciate his concern for my uterus, he really needs to – how you say? Back the fuck down.
Because, my friends, unless you want to foot the bill for my weekly grocery excursions at Whole Foods, then you need to stop with the guilt-tripping. Yes, I know this bottle of Hidden Valley salad dressing is probably chock full of elephant tusks and the tears of baby seals, but it’s $1.99 and will last me a month. And also? Sometimes I just want a bag of fucking Sun Chips – not Uncle Jerry’s Free Trade Flaxseed Peace Wafers, just regular fucking Sun Chips. Which I will wash down with a can of tooth-rotting, society-raping, koala-murdering Coke. So there.
Sorry, dude. I want that Coke.
I know I can’t be the only one who has this financial dilemma when it comes to Whole Foods, so why is that place always packed when I go there? And why are a great majority of the customers appear to be college students, a demographic wholly responsible for keeping 4-for-a-dollar Maruchan Ramen in business? How can their Patchouli-scented asses afford to shop there when I can’t? Is there some sort of half-price back room I don’t know about? WHAT AM I MISSING?! SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME!!
Because if I can find a way to shop there while staying within my monthly food budget, I’ll gladly become one of those lecture-dispensing assholes who chastises strangers for not buying dolphin-safe honey. I’ll buy one of those re-usable bags for my groceries, I’ll start composting, I’ll close down my sweatshop – whatever it takes. But I draw the line at bumper stickers. Not even the lemon bars are worth that.
So, where does the purchase of a self-righteous bumper sticker fit into this equation? Get a haircut, hippie!
Entry filed under: And you KNOW THIS!.