Thursday, July 19, 2012

Where did the Money Go?

E and I popped into the grocery store the other night for some canning jars and vinegar. We also got some prune juice (a non-local staple around here). When we got to the check out the couple in front of us was paying for their purchases and it was 77 dollars. The man said, "77 dollars? Are you sure that's right? It doesn't look like 77 dollars." The cashier checked over the receipt and apparently nothing was charged incorrectly so they went on their way.

I had to agree with them, for 77 dollars all they had received was 4 sacks of goods, all about 3/4 or less full (the habit of all stores these days - a big pet peeve of mine). I couldn't help but compare their shopping to what I bought for 74 dollars at the market. I left with my regular CSA box, a box of canning tomatoes, a watermelon, vegetable soup, salsa, a pork roast, 2 batches of basil, and eggs. It weighed a ton and took 2 trips to the car. Granted, I have no idea what was in their bags, so I'm not commenting on the items themselves, rather the contrasting feelings we had from our 2 different shopping experiences.

The point is that buying whole foods makes you feel really good about what you get. Again, I have no idea what that couple bought, but I do remember shopping at that store in the past and wondering where on Earth my money went and how it got away from me so quickly. At the market the opposite is true. Every time I check out and see how much I'm getting, I wonder why it doesn't cost more. I don't know if it's just b/c of the actual weight of the food, but I suspect it's from the knowledge that comes with shopping at a farmer's market. Knowing all the things I know about my food, how it was grown, where it came from, etc. add value to the food. We had worried that it would cost too much money to eat the way we wanted to eat. We didn't know if we would be able to sustain ourselves on our budget if we switched, but so far we have spent less every week and we feel like we're getting a whole lot more for the money.

As we walked to our car, the couple ahead of us at the checkout was standing just outside the store still scanning their receipt. They were really trying hard to make sense of where their money went. For all I know, there could have been an error on their receipt. I just know that picture will stay with me for awhile as I think of the contrasts in eating local versus industrial.

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