I work near Union Square in NYC. Three times per week, there’s a huge farmers’ market in Union Square featuring several dozen purveyors of fresh, delicious looking organic food. And every time I see it, coming or going from work, I think, “I have to start buying delicious fresh local food veggies there!” But this statement does not fill me with anticipation or desire. It fills me with a sense of guilty anxiety, like when you’re putting off telling your girlfriend that you may have given her fish diabetes while she was on a business trip (Baby I am so, so sorry but you’re going to have to learn to give Bubbles insulin injections).
But why does fresh, delicious food make me anxious? I finally figured it out: I don’t have time for this shit.
Groceries stores were invented for a reason: make shopping for food easier and cheaper. Like most great inventions, they had serious problems when first unveiled. And some of those problems still exist today: low-quality food, way too many imported fruits promoted above in-season varieties, and a focus on processed foodstuffs. But things are improving! We now have Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, and pretty much every major supermarket chain has organic sections. I know, labelling something organic has its own issues, and we have not perfected the system yet for figuring out what is truly naturally grown. But why must the local food movement insist that the *only* solution to this is to spend hours of my valuable time picking through piles of beets at 10 different stands, worried that I have no idea what distinguishes a good beet from a great beet, and then worried whether people judge you based on your beet-picking abilities. Let me say it again: I don’t have time for that shit. And sense farmer’s markets don’t offer you any cost savings because they are generally such small operations, why not pay someone else to do the picking for you, and to do it more efficiently?
The conclusion being, I’m going to shop at the grocery store. Yeah, you heard me right: I plan to purchase my food from a business that sells food. And when I follow Mike Nelson’s lead and start an all-bacon diet, I am not concerned that between the Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Food Emporium on my block, I can find some delicious, organic and well-priced meat without spending hours of my time sorting through the 8 premium meat dealer booths spread out over a cold, windy city square. The Whole Foods pictured above even has a green roof.
Progress, people. Don’t be afraid of admitting that you like the convenience of shopping in a store that carries all the food you need in one place. If you don’t like what your grocery store’s selling, don’t buy it. And tell them why – many times, they’ll actually listen. That’s how the free market works.