Making groceries more complicated

Posted on October 7, 2006 by Chris Lumens in cooking.

I decided it would be a good idea to start shopping for more stuff at local small businesses. This idea came up both from a quality perspective and from a supporting the local economy perspective. As for quality, I have long been unhappy with the state of produce in the northeast. The produce at Shaw’s is especially terrible: the tomatoes and peppers are frequently rotten, the apples are small and crappy, and the other fruit is not very attractive either. I knew it was possible to get better produce around here but it just took me a little while to find a good place. As for supporting the local economy, it just makes sense to give your money to stores that are based nearby and will put money back into the community, rather than shipping it all off to corporate headquarters in Delaware or wherever.

With this in mind, today I set out on a bunch of errands. I first found myself downtown looking for the Salvation Army to donate a bunch of clothes and other things I no longer need. Strangely, their old storefront was completely gone and there were men working on the building inside. There was no trace that they had ever existed there. Having been defeated, I walked over to the homebrew store and bought a couple bottles of interesting local beer. Then it was off to the food stops. I first went to Hannaford for the basic stuff. I know this goes against my whole local shopping idea discussed above, but I have not yet found a suitable local grocery store. Besides, Hannaford is the least crappy big grocery store in the area.

After loading up on groceries there, I headed farther out to Lull Farm in Hollis for milk and produce. Lull Farm is a rather popular farm stand that I discovered last year when I needed to buy apple cider. They have a very nice produce selection including both stuff they grow and other things they import from around the area. It’s a nice store, if a little expensive. However you know you’re getting good stuff. The apples are huge, the peaches are tasty, there’s dozens of kinds of tomatoes, and they have good deals on large quantities of produce for canning. It’s a very nice place and I’d love to make it my more regular grocery store, though I don’t think I can really afford that. So I guess I will just have to be happy with buying my produce and milk in glass bottles there.

I think there’s a balance to be struck between buying quality local produce and getting things cheaply. I’ll just have to decide what I want to spend the extra money on and get those things at the farmstand. I would, however, like to find a good independent grocery store and perhaps also a butcher. Meat seems like one of those things that’s very easy to screw up so maybe I should care more about where it comes from.