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Groceries....flashy versus frugal

October 18th, 2009 at 10:24 pm

So, today I went grocery shopping as usual. I shop at a local super cheap market (the kind where people warn you to not buy the meat because of concerns about...ahem....expiration date and handling) and I have noticed that the clientele appears to have changed. You used to have a parking lot full of only very old cars, some SUVs and minivans, and lots of families and people on fixed incomes. But lately, I am seeing the hybrids and volvo's slowly start to litter the lot. I see people in line who look like they are a bit uncomfortable. I can imagine that if you are used to only shopping at Wholefood's or Safeway, you would be used to a certain look to things, and this lower budget super market doesn't really have that.

I can't lie and say that I don't wish I had a budget to at least partly shop at Wholefood's (there are some things I refuse to pay more for just because of the location, such as cereal, toiletries, etc.), and then shop for other ends at more lower priced stores. I miss the availability of certain types of goodies like different cheeses and dairy options at the lower priced store.

I also hate the extreme amount of processed "food" found at the lower end supermarket.

Let me preface this by saying that I come from a low-income family where kool-aid was the norm, and I learned to not complain about eating the same thing for 3 days in a row--heck, that is now how I cook! But I am really disgusted in some ways by the products that are offered, and almost pushed on people who are low-income.

I have refused to buy the fried noodles that everyone knows from college, that are like, 10 pks for 1 dollar. To me, they are fried, full of fat and calories, and even more importantly, chock full of sodium. I refuse to eat that if I can at all avoid it. But I almost always see a family with a whole carton of it in their shopping cart.

Now, if that is all I see in their cart, then I am sad, because maybe they can't buy anything else. And I get sad by the families that spend over 100 bucks in one shopping trip, an have tons of fried noodles, fruit punch that is sooooo fake (i.e., not even 1 percent of fruit juice), that you can literally taste just sugar, chemicals, and dyes, the 1 dollar budget meals, and just everything is super processed. I am not mad at them, it just makes me sad. I also realize that when you are broke, and trying to feed a lot of mouths, and may not have good cooking skills, you are going to focus on price per portion as your main goal.

I was upset today when I was shopping and I saw an overweight mom in the store just standing (not actually picking anything up to buy, but literally standing and leaning on a display while he child sat on part of the display), and talking loud on her cell phone. I wasn't try to eavesdrop, but she was loud enough for me to hear that she is going to go back to school (a good thing), because she doesn't like the jobs she has been getting. She also mentioned something about if the doctor tells her she is able to go back to work, she will just say that she is in school and can't work and something about how she gets money for transportation, etc. She was cursing very loud (I almost used slang right there, but stopped), and it was just...upsetting. I come from a family on welfare, so when people act in such a way, it makes it hard for people who haven't experienced such poverty to be sympathetic. Often, I have to be the counter voice to people who make negative comments about those on welfare.

I was reading a book about eating healthy and I really liked it, except at the very end where the author made a comment about there being a low level of people that are actually in poverty in America (wrong!!), and that he sees a family buy soda versus just drinking water. For one, that is just super elitist (and I say this as a person who is a college grad hoping to get her Master's one day), and does everyone ONLY drink water in their lives? Why not comment on the bigger issue---fresh or even orange juice from concentrate is usually $2.00 or more per half-gallon. Many neighborhood corner stores double that amount easily.Stores are now selling 3 1-liters of soda for $1!!! I don't make soda a routine part of my diet, but I admitted that was a good deal, especially on special occasions or when having company, etc.

I am torn because I have been where the people I see with the fried noodles have been. I often have to fight that part of myself, as well, as sometimes I buy day old stuff just to save a buck, when maybe it isn't the healthiest thing to do. I am also upset at those who have never been in such a situation, and make ridiculous comments about those with a $12,000 a year income should forego meat altogether, if they cannot buy it organically. Grrrrrrrrrr. Frown I often have little words with my friends when I think I am doing a good thing by letting them know of a great deal on a healthy lean protein, and they reply that they only eat organic meat.

I really hope that there can be an increase is healthy foods for all neighborhoods....Wholefoods shouldn't be something that people from all incomes aren't able to experience.

7 Responses to “Groceries....flashy versus frugal”

  1. sarah Says:

    I agree. Lower income people in the US often have enough money for calories to sustain life but not to sustain health.

  2. thebestmeicanbe Says:

    Thank you for agreeing, Sarah. I wish people could understand that.

    I do agree that you can eat healthy on a lower budget, but it does take a good amount of skill, and time (soaking the beans overnight), and being willing to forego certain types of meat.

  3. Nika Says:

    I wonder though... is it possible to produce enough healthy, organic food to feed the entire population? I don't think so. The inefficiency of producing natural foods comes at a cost.

    The question of what "should" be... Should one have to commute for hours a day to afford organic food? Not have cable, not have a nice car?
    Is that a reasonable choice? But it is a choice. Most of these things are. It is just a matter of priorities.

    But if, for example, I can't live half an hour from my work because there is too much demand and people who make several times as much money scoop the limited number of apartments there are... Do I "deserve" not to spend 3 hours a day on a commute? Is that a right? Or, because I just don't make enough money, I deserve just what I can afford?

  4. miz pat Says:

    My parents weren't on welfare, but they never ever saved for a rainy day and when the union went on strike (always around Christmas), we suffered. I remember buying bulk roasted peanuts in shell and making homemade peanut butter. I remember various bean dishes, homemade sprouts, and making my own soy nuts. I also learned that I hate soybeans unless they are soy nuts.

    I remember one year when we couldn't afford cat food and the cat brought my mom a bird (dead) and she screamed and the cat looked hurt and I was so proud of the cat for sharing at a time when things were very tough.

    When I first got married I got a book on nutrition and based our diet on a whole grain bread recipe that was a complete protein and $80 in dry goods. Then we spent $10 a week on food, and you bet we had no meat.

    We had enough to eat, but it was a lot of work.

    Now I'm relearning the same things all over again. I am spending around $40 a week on food, toiletries and doggie foods. It may go down to less. I went through my freezer and I ain't buying any new meat until I've used some up.

    The stores we had near areas I lived in had amazingly stupid foods for sale. They still do. People on fixed incomes and low incomes are stuck. I wish I had the know-how to start a food coop.

    But my once a week cooking is paying off. I have various dinners with chicken dishes and beef dishes ready to eat. I found a new store, that has some excellent pricing on veggies and I'm getting fresh veggies that way.

    You take care sweetie. I love and look for your posts.

    Miz Pat

  5. girltherapy Says:

    The fried noodle pkgs aren't all bad. Somewhere I have clicked thru a recipe site that had 150 things to make with ***** noodles, and some of them sounded very tasty!

  6. sarah Says:

    I really struggle with my weight and have often wondered if my weight problem doesn't have its origins in commodities fed to American Indians by the government in the 1960s, Anybody remember hard bologna sandwiches fried in lard between 2 slices of wonder bread

    I now do have the money to eat anyway I want but I still struggle with this. I do see the organic movement as incredibly elitist. There is no evidence that organic is any better for you than non-organic. I stopped eating organic after I got TB from an organic egg. The TB went undiagnosed for almost ten years because I did not have health insurance at the time. I almost died.

  7. LuxLiving Says:

    This may or may not help. We don't have WholeFoods or anything like that near us.

    http://www.mint.com/blog/finance-core/15-ways-to-save-money-buying-natural-foods/

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