What a disappointment to hear from my writing teacher that this topic was my suggestion! I must have had a particular aspect in mind when I suggested it, but that escapes me now.
As I consider it, I think of routine grocery shopping and how it has changed for me in different ways through the years. I generally shop about once a week, but not always on the same day. Some items I buy every week, like milk and fresh produce. I’ve always kept a written list of items that I buy only occasionally, like toilet paper or mayonnaise. Otherwise, I’m likely to forget them.
During the first years of being married, when we didn’t have much money, I kept a running estimate in my head of the total cost, knowing how much I had to spend. I remember one period of time when I wanted to buy pickles, but did not have enough money, so week after week, the jar of pickles did not go into my shopping basket. There must have been other items, too, that had to be postponed, but it’s those pickles that I remember. As a result, pickles still feel like a minor luxury to me.
After my divorce, when I lived alone with a tiny kitchen and was grocery shopping only for myself, I bought extra of everything. Then, I prepared meals as if I were serving three or four people. Often, friends would unexpectedly join me for dinner or I would eat leftovers for multiple meals. Because I liked everything I prepared, that was never a problem. I loved to cook and made everything from scratch, especially soups, breads, and desserts.
More recently, before Covid, we often invited friends for dinner. Somehow, my topic has morphed from shopping to meals, but of course, they’re directly related.
Now, I am conscious of the luxury it is to grocery shop, able to buy anything I want, with no concern for the cost. That doesn’t mean I am unconscious of cost. I compare prices and generally buy the grocery store brand, rather than the name brand, when there is a choice.
When I shop, at least four factors affect what I choose to buy: what do I want, what do I need, how much does it cost, and who is receiving the money I spend. I will not shop at Whole Foods, because I do not want to add to Jeff Bezos’ fortune.
The Beverly farmer’s market opened for the season on Monday. When I left the house, I told Paul that I wouldn’t be gone long. Boy, was I wrong! Being there while thinking about this assigned topic made me aware of my shopping preferences and habits. I love to shop local and to support local vendors.
I used my own shopping bags, of course, and came home with a large bag filled with a wonderful mix of items. From the beet stand — listen to this – I got candied yellow beet and buckwheat granola! I also got a beet and chocolate Whoopi pie, in which purried beets is the main sweetener. That was delicious and I should have gotten at least two. From a vegetable stand, I got the most beautiful bunch of rainbow Swiss chard. I also picked up an extra bamboo toothbrush, just because I really liked the woman at that stand.
A young woman, Erica, who I taught with several years ago, was at her own vegetable stand, because she left teaching to manage a farm! I loved seeing her and hearing her story. I also saw the city counselor, Estelle who started our farmer’s market years ago and for whom I have a high regard. I loved having the chance to praise her for the wonderful additions to the market this year. Besides what I’ve already mentioned, I got some micro greens from the new Green Beverly stand, some spinach fettuccine, and a loaf of olive bread from the When Pigs Fly stand. All of this happened with a band playing live music under shady trees. So, I’ve changed my mind. Shopping is a great topic to think and write about!
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