Monday, January 4, 2010

CI #48 -- Bad Grocery Stores

I was lucky enough to grow up in the utterly vanilla suburbs. Yeah, I was boring, but I didn't know it. I didn't know there was anything wrong with strip malls designed to eliminate walking between Wendy's and Krispy Kreme until I saw that there were other options.

On the flip side, it wasn't until I moved to New York that I realized just how bad, truly bad grocery stores can be.

Sure, NC's perennial budget grocer Food Lion bleached their cauliflower to make it seem fresh, but I didn't know that until the news told me. And besides, cauliflower is gross and bleach kills germs.

There is a bad grocery store near me in Brooklyn, though it's not as bad as the one near my first NY apartment, where I was introduced to chicken feet. One sure sign of a bad grocery store is a high ratio of chicken feet to edible produce.

I've got nothing against chicken feet. I'm sure some delicious soups can be made from them. And prepared correctly (is this possible?), I might even try one, or them, er... however they come.

But if there's an overabundance of chicken feet at a grocery store, you're sure not to find good spinach, and you can forget about mesclun (you might as well take your froufrou, tri-color salad self back to France!). And spinach is basically the only healthy thing I eat.

You can't really know what a terrible grocery store is like until you've been in one. So for those who may be asking What are some signs of a bad grocery store? Heregoes...

- 1. Well for one, they sell this...

I'm sure other grocery stores sell MSG, but does this one have to be so cavalier about selling such a terrible chemical? I bet I eat gobs of MSG everyday, but I surely don't want to be reminded of its existence, nor am I in the market for a restaurant-size quantity of it. If you haven't seen crystalline MSG up close, don't. It looks like something from space. Evil space.

- 2. The overwhelming aroma of bleach accented with a faint hint of beef juice.
One can only assume the store has a "beef juice mop" whose water is rarely changed and is whipped out every time there is beef juice spilled. And by the strength of the scent in these stores, this is not an uncommon occurrence.

- 3. Cats walking across produce.
At first, you think "Cats? That can't be legal/hygienic/ethical/okay." But then you realize "Ooh, Whiskers is actually an employee who takes care of the ..."

- 4. A lack of rats.
This one is subtle. And this is why there is a cat walking across produce. Yes, good grocery stores also boast a lack of rats, but they use uppity things like "proper waste disposal" and "cleaning" to achieve their rat-less environment.

- 5. Prices, usually more expensive ones.
Most of the time I shop at the "good" grocery store slightly further away than the really close, bad grocery store. That the "good" grocery store doesn't carry produce or really any item I happen to be looking for at the time says a lot about how bad the bad grocery store really is.

The benefit of going to two stores though is comparison shopping. The bad store is frequently more expensive when it comes to packaged non-perishables. Oh, and they don't have sales. Ever.

Why is this the case? My guess, which I'm too lazy or perhaps too satisfied with feeling okay about myself to research, is that things are more expensive at the bad store because customers more frequently use food stamps or other type of assistance; thus, the bad, cat-walked-over items at the bad store are more expensive because they're actually subsidized.

Sometimes chicken feet are all you need to put things in perspective.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy that in your world, there is such a thing as "Evil Space." I'm totally with you.