When our trusty Consumer Reports landed in our mailbox last week, I was interested to see a great story on supermarkets. I pored over the story and the always great visuals, learning that my beloved Trader Joe’s scored really well, and that the other two (non-Whole Foods) chains in the area were at the bottom of the pile, scoring only marginally better than the epicurean gem, Wal-Mart.
I was not surprised. I grew up shopping at Stop and Shop and Shaw’s, and with some notable exceptions, I was unimpressed. I’ve always hated Shaw’s–terrible produce, sad meats, uninteresting food. Great for a bargain shopper and definitely serves a purpose, but it hasn’t served mine. Stop and Shop is a bit better but it varies by store. For example, the S+S in Bristol, RI is excellent compared to the one near my house (which has a meat section about the size of a Ford Taurus, yet boasts a potato chip and soda aisle that could double as a main street thru town).
Since moving to our current area about 2 years ago, I’ve frequented a few places with regularity. Inspired by the comments section on a recent post on The Kitchn, I mapped out where I shop and what I buy at each place:
I used my best third grade handwriting for you.
My go to shopping spot is Trader Joe’s. It is 3.5 minutes from my house, it is cheap, it is interesting. I do not like their produce for the most part, and I only occasionally buy meat there, but it works. I shop there probably once every ten days.
Oh, Dave’s. I love Dave’s. It’s a local chain that focuses on high quality foods, local (when possible) and gorgeous (always) produce and meats, and super fresh seafood. But I don’t shop there as frequently as I used to. The locations are sort of weirdly spread out for me to be able to shop on my way home from work, which is the only time I really shop.
The rest are the premise for this blog: the farmer’s market (we love the Coastal Growers Market, both winter and summer), our two CSAs, and the milk man. I actually rely on those sources a lot more than bricks-and-mortar stores because they are local, they are cost-effective, the quality is through the roof, and they provide a really rich and satisfying experience. The experience is incredibly important to me, and we both enjoy the connection that we make when we engage in these food experiences.
A few final words on the CR supermarket report: 1) I am apparently categorized as an impulse shopper because I go in knowing what I want and which brand I will buy. Apparently it is opposite day at CR; 2) I love Publix, which scored well. Jealous of my Florida family!; 3) I do occasionally shop at Whole Foods, but it’s rare, and it has little to do with the price. I’ve just been able to replicate the WF experience and quality elsewhere; and finally 4) I don’t eat seafood, and Steve does. Steve, therefore, is responsible for the seafood for the house and does so by either catching it himself or going to a local fish market manned by a fisherman’s son that we know from childhood. That kid sells a great fish, I’m told!
Where do you shop? What do you buy where?