Update: Because my very dear friend Robert Wagner delights in messing with me (even though he knows it’s a dangerous endeavor and doesn’t actually accomplish the desired results
most of the time EVER), I’m indulging this sleep-deprived new father by linking back to his faux-diatribe. Mighty UMC of me, eh? The Great Grocery Store Showdown, or: Why @betsywhim is (gasp) WRONG!. Oh, and that ‘not gelling with the general public’ jab? That’s a compliment, @robwagpdx…
Soooo…the grain-free pumpkin cranberry muffins that I made before were a complete and total fail last evening. (I did remember to go to New Seasons – my natural foods store of choice (with a few caveats, detailed in the narrative below) to grab eggs & walnuts. But the sweetener I subbed in place of the maple syrup made the whole mass inedible. (Or maybe it was the fact that I forgot to mix in the flour, spices & baking soda bowl into the liquid mass the first time I ladled it into mini cupcake tins. It’s a mistake I’ve never made before – but I caught it quickly enough to recover. Or so I thought, anyway…)
So all 4 dozen mini muffins – destined for a paleo potluck at 11 am today – are now lovingly residing in my compost bin outside. And I still need something to bring to the potluck!
Enter Plan B: the raw kale-avocado-citrus salad I’ve brought to events before. (Update: Actually documented the recipe in a subsequent post on request – it’s awesome!) The salad I’ve now dubbed ‘kale crack’. It’s fast, it’s dead simple, and it ought to meet the stringent dietary requirements of a bunch of people I’ve never met before. Right? Right.
So off I trotted to my nearest natural foods store – Whole Foods – tweeting as I went.
Sure enough, the AM Twitter gallery was there to weigh in with their opinions of what I should be going, along with a list of just why (“good soups, better prices, doesn’t smell as bad as store X, etc.”)
The first coffee spit-take came courtesy of my friend Justin (a regular source of spit-takes on Twitter, don’t you know…), who ranks healthy grocery stores around the PDX metro area as follows:
@GeekEyeCon @betsywhim 1) Trader Joe’s. 2) New Seasons. 3) Getting kicked in the face. 4) Whole Foods.
Yeah, yeah, yeah – I get it. They don’t call it Whole Paycheck for nothing – and that’s why, even though it’s closest to my house, it’s 3rd on the list of the stores I frequent when I’m buying the foods that get/keep Betsy healthy.
OTOH – it’s often the first option I pick for certain items. When they have a meat sale (on their antibiotic-free, grass-fed beef, for example) – it’s killer. They have the full-fat brand of Fage plain greek yogurt I buy — whereas both Trader Joe’s and New Seasons are afraid of full-fat anything these days. New Seasons? Had 5 different variations of no-fat and/or low-fat Fage last night when I was there – and all other kinds of products I’d turn my nose up first. (No meat sale today – but I did get my Fage today at WF, since I couldn’t during last night’s trip to NS. Natural fat from real food is GOOD for you, people – don’t be afraid of it already!)
And the oofy-foofy no-sugar coconut water probiotic I’m addicted to lately? (It’s a special splurge, don’t you know – mixed with soda water, it’s my go-to work beverage of choice these days.) It’s a full dollar cheaper at WF.
As the conversation evolved on Twitter (and I added more things to my basket – so much for the ‘I’m just here for kale, lemons, avocados and yogurt’ quick and dirty trip), I thought about how I’ve gotten my grocery store shopping for the month down to a science lately – and what works for me. But I’m betting a bunch of you might be able to teach me something as well.
Here’s the monthly drill:
- Trader Joes – monthly. Pros: decent prices on milk, Kerrygold butter, eggs & bacon ends/pieces. Cons: Iffy on produce (plus it’s mostly trucked in from elsewhere.) High ratio of UMC white privileged people, who wander around the aisles chaotically, trailing their (often) demon spawn behind them with those mini shopping carts (“Caitlin, can you please grab Mommy that pasta for your cart? Please don’t push your cart into that man’s shins, darling…”). Balancing it out, I only go when I think it won’t be crowded, lower ratio of kids there, and when I’m overflowing with patience and goodwill towards mankind. Or we need bacon.
- Organics to You delivery – weekly: Pros: It comes to my house! It’s always the same amount of money! It’s full of fresh, local, organic goodness! Cons: (minimal, really) Another batch of beets? What’s this week’s knobby little thing? On the whole? Huge win – it forces me to try new things, means I rarely have to buy produce from any grocery store, and it comes directly to my house – even when I’m not overflowing with patience and/or goodwill.
- New Seasons – weekly: Pros: They’re local. They specialize in local, sustainable stuff from brands I respect. The CEO is not a douchebag, the company gives back to the community, the staff is excellent (and I hear NS pays them well compared to rest of industry). I feel good about shopping/buying there. Cons: Except…there’s the high UMC ratio, the crowded parking lots, sometimes higher prices (see KeVita example above) & they’re on this whole ‘low-fat everything is GOOD for you’ mantra. Still, it’s my default of the natural food stores.
- Fred Meyer – weekly. (What? Why am I putting FM in this roster? Hang with me, chickens – it’ll make sense shortly…) Pros: They have a small, but comprehensive natural foods section (they’re my 1st choice for my Fage full-fat yogurt in the big size, for example). Ditto for organic produce if I’m having a kale emergency. They have sales. And it’s where I can also buy things like paper towels or toilet paper at non-wallet-raping prices – in the same trip! (Plus, my kids expect to be fed in my house as well – which means I can buy all the packaged/canned crap here, too – with the same sales/NWR benefits.) Cons: Have you seen the size of an average Fred Meyer? There’s no such thing as ‘just running in for five minutes to grab 3 things’ – you have to wade through all the packaged/canned crap to get to the TP already. Higher ratio of running into the person you haven’t seen in ages when you look like something scraped off the bottom of a shoe.
- Whole Foods – as needed. Pros: Have already detailed them. Plus – did I mention that they’re close? And have a usually-half-full parking lot? (I’m usually on a tight schedule, don’t you know, so this has be counted as a plus worth considering…) Cons: Well, Justin has the pithy explanation in 140c if company ethics/morals counts for anything: “Yeah… Mackey is strongly anti-health care, anti-union, thinks global warming is fake, Ayn Rand fan, etc.” Which Brian (also part of this AM Twitter conversation) cut to the chase: “ah, so he’s a fucking idiot. Right.” And I’d prefer whenever possible to not give my money to known idiots. OTOH, they have the body wash I like (from the company that does give back/uses good ingredients.) So it’s a known evil occasional source in my book.
It’s 10 am – and it took me 15 minutes to make the salad once I got home, and 3 times that to write this post. And now it’s shower time to wipe what I called the “UMC white privilege duo’ cliche (WF + Starbucks) off of me & head to the potluck.
(Um – yes, I was adding to the indignity by wearing yoga pants/holding my cell phone, @aligreco. BUSTED…)