I feel like I need to start off saying this is quite a #firstworldproblem but I’m not going to let that stop me. See, I live in the land of suburbia; a land that overflows with car washes, discount box stores, frozen yogurt shops, TGIFridays, and the like. It’s not my favorite thing about where I live, but it comes with the territory.
Recently I found out they are building a Lidl, a German grocery chain new to the US, in our area. At first, being a grocery store aficionado, my initial reaction was a little squeal of delight. After all, it’s supposed to be a rival to Trader Joe’s, selling items at outrageously low prices (jars of peanut butter for $1.19 !?!?). My mind lit up with thoughts of low grocery bills and an overflowing pantry.
Then I looked at where they are building it (local friends, right next to Josh’s Farmers market), and I just shook my head in disbelief. The site location has a Publix, Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Lowe’s Foods, Aldi, Super Walmart, Super Target, BJ’s, Sams, and a farmer’s market all within a 3 mile radius.
I honestly know nothing about super market margins, but I did read that over 20 grocers have filed for bankruptcy in the past 3 years, and I believe it. How is it possible for us to have so many options so close? And this doesn’t even include the Fresh Market and Whole Foods that are only a short drive away. It’s insanity.
Personally I’m all over the place with how I buy my food. I get on kicks where I’m all about our budget. I use Walmart’s pick up, stop by Aldi, and buy meat in bulk from BJs. I rejoice in our low grocery bills and that I found organic salsa for less than $2. Then, we take a trip to the farmers market, like we did this Saturday and my heart starts to sing.
The charm of local musicians, the freshness of in-season produce that is there because of the farmers’ sweat, and the strength of the community feel is intoxicating.
Not only that, the food just tastes better. Is it mental, influenced by my local kombucha samples happiness haze? Perhaps, but my reality is that it does in fact taste better. Or maybe I just appreciate it more?
Whatever the reason, I find myself wandering the booths with a new dedication to quality over quantity and an appreciation for freshness. I love the connection with our local farms and producers. I love eating the produce that is currently in abundance. I love the sweat that forms on my brow as I peruse the tomatoes and the heat that I want my kids to learn to handle.
They’re still working on it.
So now I find myself leaning back in the direction of supporting fresh, local, higher quality. I know this comes at a monetary cost, but we’ve always been OK allocating our budget in alignment with our priorities when we’re able to. And truth is eating this way does light me up inside. Picking up our weekly CSA makes me giddy. Food is my love language.
I have no doubt I’ll be back to Aldi and I’m sure I’ll use the Walmart pickup again, but as I wandered the aisles of Healthy Home Market (a local grocer) yesterday in awe of their renovation and offerings, I felt pulled back to my roots. I asked the cashier at check out how business was and he was quite honest with me when he answered, not great. It made me sad to hear. Are mom and pop shops and local farmers markets being put out of business at a startling by these super retailers? And if so, should I not be more conscious about voting with my dollar?
But then on the other hand, it’s hard not to get excited about a 4 pack of applesauce pouches for less than $3 at Aldi.
Like I said from the start, first world problems at their finest, but still, I find myself thinking about it lately and really wanted to hear your thoughts on the matter.
How to you choose from where to get your food?
Does convenience and cost reign supreme?
Are you OK spending more if it means higher quality or supporting local business?
How do you decide?