Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Fuss Was About.


When I first told people I was moving to Athens, those who knew it well clasped their hand to their chest and sighed, "Oh... I love Athens. I'm so jealous." I'd visited a few times, but had no idea what the fuss was about. Sure, Athens has a hopping music scene, out-of-this world food (at collegiate prices) and a fun-loving, free spirited vibe. It's the town for cool, in-the-know, local-minded, creative artists, really. And since I am not cool, barely in-the-know and boring, Athens really freaked me out. I mean, freaked. me. the freak out. Upon visiting, I burst into tears, accused the town of not being bathroom friendly and cried that I would never, ever fit in. Boo hoo, I know, but I felt like I was re-entering high school. Back last spring, I had a rough (hormonal?) visit here. My poor fiance was thinking he'd have to go to school somewhere else. Yet encouraging people kept telling me that it's brutal at first, but if you give it time you'll never want to leave. I moved here, sulking and doubting it.

Several months in I was still miserable. Now, a year later, I'm starting to feel hope. Feeling more at ease (instead of odds) with Athens has let me look back and see what was causing the strife. Please believe me I when lay huge blame on the Kroger two blocks from our house.

Going to the Kroger was bad news. Not only did I drive home hating life, but I also took it out on my then-fiance as well, passive aggressive-style. I'd pop an attitude and refuse to let him help me bring in the groceries and make him listen as I banged my purchases against the counter and slammed cabinets shut. All the while wondering: why am I so frustrated? I had no idea, but something was off, and now i see it was that Kroger! Just thinking about it's big white sign and it's jammed parking lot makes my fists ball up. Here's why:

1. I had to war with other cars and dodge stray grocery carts to get a parking spot.
2. The fact that they have antibacterial hand sanitizer to wipe down your grocery carts with made me like I was entering a hospital.
3. Their organic food section was so tiny and shriveled it propelled you toward the cheaper non organic stuff.
4. Long lines, slutty tabloids, small selection of good food and always, a whopping grocery bill.
5. Everything seemed to be lying to me: what does all natural even mean?
6. Products were over priced. Boxed lettuce is marked up 200 percent. Because it's boxed.
7. I hated overhearing chatty cell phone conversations while trying to figure out which milk didn't have antibiotics. (Although I was also guilty of this, I must admit.)
8. And the CLINCHER: John (my husband) bought shrimp at the meat counter for a curry and when his sauce was perfected, he poured in the shrimp, only to see fruit flies rise, simmering on the surface. (After that he'd get a mild panic attack in the meat section.)

(I'm sorry if the list makes me sound like a brat. But the above things really started getting to me, ya know?)

Change did not come after I read "A,V,M" and when inspiration hit I started buying food from the CSA. I look forward to Thursday pick-ups and I like ordering online. When I go to get my order there are happy people eager to chat about what's new. Everyone's smiling, nice, and helpful. The food is quality, and the whole process makes me feel more connected to my community. The food comes in recycled bags, and the only label you have on it is from the family farm that picked it fresh for you that day. We compensate our food staples with purchases from the *Daily Co-op. Though we try to be limited because it is more expensive. Although the produce is organic, they aren't exclusively local which is nice when you really need a tomato. The CSA can be pricey, sure, but you know that your money is going directly to the farmer and the farmer's family, people who are trying to grow food with sound ethics, and that justifies the price for us. I may not have become cool, but I feel a little less boring and a lot better about this town.

Try it at least once, if you can. Even if you only buy a bag of salad greens, I think you'll notice the difference. Plus, the greens don't come in a box, hence: no mark-up.


*a tip for staying on the cheap at the Co-op is to buy out of the bins in the back of the store. Also, they charge if you use their bags or containers. We re-use our containers and bring in freezer size ziplock bags for hauling out flour, pasta, beans, etc. If you bring in your own containers, weigh them before you fill them up so they don't mischarge you.

*and yes, I think there's something in my nose in the picture above.

1 comment:

omaggiemouseo said...

Yup...Passive aggressive shopping trips. Totally feel you.

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