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In Search of Grocery Gems


lperry
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This year, instead of skulking off to my local fancy food store (where the high prices can bring tears of pain at checkout), I embraced the assignment of learning to love my supermarket: grimy aisles, shelves of overprocessed food and all.

Can it be done?

To my disappointment, I couldn’t find a single jar of olives, a bottled dressing or a pie crust that passed muster for both taste and nutrition.

The author then proceeds to list "the best, making up a full day’s worth of irreproachably good food (though perhaps not your nutritionist’s first choices), beginning with breakfast."

Do you agree with the choices? Will you be giving up the Whole Paycheck habit anytime soon?

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Many of New York City’s supermarkets are a thing apart from the well-lighted, spacious havens found elsewhere in the country, and like many in the city I avoid them by cobbling together a food supply from Zabar’s, bodegas, the Internet, Whole Foods and the like.

Nope, won't be giving up any of my "habits" soon, and I doubt Ms. Moskin will be either.

However, the interesting thing is that my pantry has literally each and every item, except for maybe the EVOO (I like Goya brand for frying, etc.), that she lists in the sidebar, right down to the brand!

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Here's the link.

As you read along you find there is a fair mix of products, but after an introduction which implied that the author was weeding out "upscale" items (organic, etc.) in the interest of finding perfectly acceptable ordinary food, the first item she chose to single out is an extremely expensive imported oatmeal that goes for around $7 a can. What's wrong with Quaker Oats if you can't find a storebrand for even less? Her criteria, after all was "reasonably wholesome and possibly delicious."

Perhaps the reference to "grocery gems" indicates that the item had to be distinctive in some respect. Yet, B&M baked beans, once a comfort food for this here Yankee, are made with some of the ingredients the author finds offensive (I seem to recall; could be wrong) and nowadays strike me as too sweet as a result.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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For posterity's sake, here is a link that won't disappear into the archives after seven days:

NYT: In Search of Grocery Store Gems

[Totally off-topic, but useful. Paste NYT articles into this site

New York Times Link Generator

and it will give you a link that doesn't expire in seven days. It's a service the NYT set up for bloggers.]

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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As you read along you find there is a fair mix of products, but after an introduction which implied that the author was weeding out "upscale" items (organic, etc.) in the interest of finding perfectly acceptable ordinary food, the first item she chose to single out is an extremely expensive imported oatmeal that goes for around $7 a can.  What's wrong with Quaker Oats if you can't find a storebrand for even less?  Her criteria, after all was "reasonably wholesome and possibly delicious." 

I have to say, the steel cut oatmeal is really good. :wub: And it's still not that much per serving.

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Here's the link.

:laugh::laugh::laugh: Well, that's the last time I grab the phone during a post! Apologies for the lack of link.

I find interesting items here and there at the Giant closest to my house, although I tend to go there mainly in emergency situations. And these items often disappear after a while. I'm curious if anyone thinks that the mainstream big grocers are starting to try to compete with the Whole Foods type stores.

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Of course they're trying to compete ... when WalMart gets into "organic" food, the trend has clearly hit mainstream ... I expect my Costco's will soon be running adverts as well.

I tend to keep the almost daily shopping that I became accustomed to in the UK and in NYC ... so I hit Costco for bulk paper goods (napkins, towels) and supplies (dishwashing liquid, aluminum foil, plastic wrap), as well as bulk food at reasonable prices (Bear Naked granolas; 100% cranberry juice; dried fruit).

Anything I can't find at Costco, or don't quite need in quantity 10,000 ... I hit my local grocery store for. That may include meats (rare these days), fish or pasta, although I usually pick up things like this at Philadelphia's Italian Market, much like shopping in the small family owned shops of Europe.

On the weekend, I hit the farmers' markets for the stuff you won't find anywhere else: all organic fruit & veg; heirloom varieties; incredibly fresh local produce (corn picked a few hours before; fruit picked early the morning of the sale).

You can still save money AND get the most wonderful items.... you just have to work at it.

JasonZ

Philadelphia, PA, USA and Sandwich, Kent, UK

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Of course they're trying to compete ... when WalMart gets into "organic" food, the trend has clearly hit mainstream ...

But doesn't that trend mean that the "mainstream" shopper is demanding more? I shop neither store so I don't know if a Whole Foods shopper would consider Wal Mart's groceries.

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Maybe I'm taking that article the wrong way... and then again maybe I'm just Heartland trash too(lol). But anyway, I find the article rather insulting. Sometimes those main grocery stores are all you have, some neighborhoods around here don't even have that. To be honest, you can find really great food at a lot of ordinary grocery stores. I know I do because I buy mainly non-processed foods(fresh fruits, veggies, lean protein). Just because Whole Foods sells overpriced cookies doesn't change the fact that in itself it is just crap for your body. And while I lived in Berlin I enjoyed my Leibnitz cookies, I also missed my Chewy Chips Ahoy. Those were one of those low-quality items that I was raised with and they will always have a place in my heart. I guess beyond my senseless ranting here, my point is, is that this article just doesn't seem to be anything more than snobbery. :sad:

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Ahhh... but the New York "supermarket" is another thing entirely. Back when I lived in NYC they were often cramped, dirty, disorganized, overpriced purveyors of stuff of lesser quality than is otherwise readily available within a few blocks walk. Setting oneself the goal of eating well from a NYC supermarket is a formidable challenge, or would have been 10 years ago. I gather that some of them have changed for the better.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Here's the link.

:laugh::laugh::laugh: Well, that's the last time I grab the phone during a post! Apologies for the lack of link.

I find interesting items here and there at the Giant closest to my house, although I tend to go there mainly in emergency situations. And these items often disappear after a while. I'm curious if anyone thinks that the mainstream big grocers are starting to try to compete with the Whole Foods type stores.

Didja see my foodblog?

The one with the photos of my local Whole Paycheck, and the Super Fresh supermarket right across the street from it?

The Super Fresh was there first. It opened in 1987. Whole Foods--then still DBA Fresh Fields locally--opened in 2000. The selection of natural foods increased dramatically at the Super Fresh after WFM opened.

WFM's "everyday value" store brand is actually competitive with regular supermarket products on price. But I guess that buying 365 Brand would be beneath the writer.

However, her endorsement of Dietz & Watson bacon is noted with interest. The brand is a Philly favorite--the company was established here in 1939, and its headquarters and plant are on Tacony Street in Bridesburg (Northeast Philly). I generally prefer Hatfield pork products myself, so I may want to check D&W out.

Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Didja see my foodblog?

The one with the photos of my local Whole Paycheck, and the Super Fresh supermarket right across the street from it?

The Super Fresh was there first.  It opened in 1987.  Whole Foods--then still DBA Fresh Fields locally--opened in 2000.  The selection of natural foods increased dramatically at the Super Fresh after WFM opened.

I'm curious if that strategy helped the Super Fresh retain customers that might otherwise have moved to Whole Foods. With one right across the street I imagine they had to do more than stores that are driving distance from Whole Foods markets.

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