December 24, 2006

Walking for Dinner

As I was driving home from work in massive amounts of traffic, the thought of heading anywhere else in my car was rather uninspiring. And one look at the Super Stop & Shop parking lot told me that pretty much everyone was stopping to pick up some groceries on their way home. Ah, if only there was some way to walk to a smaller, neighborhood grocery store like I used to do when Purity Supreme was in Saxonville!

Fortunately, Gerard Farms is still open (alas, they're closing for vacation til March after today). So, I was able to take a walk there and pick up a few things for dinner (some sliced deli meats, a few vegetable salads, done). But oh how it would improve my quality of life to be able to walk to a local market several times a week and pick up fresh meat and produce for dinner.

I think one of the reasons we eat so much processed (and unhealthy) food in this country is because local markets have all but disappeared. Who wants to drive to and shop at a huge big-box regional grocer multiple times a week? Instead, we stock up on foods with chemicals we can't pronounce, let alone identify - overly processed and packaged goods that will have a shelf life of weeks or months. The shelf life is usually inversely proportional to the taste, and we get less sensory satisfaction from our meals, so we eat greater quantities to make up for lower quality. And so it goes -- along with living our lives sitting at desks or in our cars, we end up out of shape and overweight.

I'm reading Mireille Guiliano's sequel to French Women Don't Get Fat, called Frech Women For All Seasons, and she points out that the French spend a higher percentage of their income on food. They'll pay more for locally produced items, and for quality. I suspect they're also willing to pay a little more to shop at a local market. The result? Along with the way they cook (using fresh, natural ingredients) and eat (mindfully, slowly, and paying attention to what they're consuming instead of watching TV, reading or typing at a computer), the way they shop helps them enjoy eating while not getting fat.

Many of us also pay less attention to what's in season, instead expecting to buy everything all the time, regardless of how long it's been stored or shipped. That, too, ends up reducing the satisfaction of what we consume.

I hope someday the trend toward local neighborhood grocers returns. Let the super stores have the business of long shelf-life packaged goods -- they'll be able to offer lower prices, and people can stop occasionally and stock up, as I'd do as well. But give us some more local options for fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy and meat!


  1. Groceries were smaller because they sold the ingredients, and not the final product. For example, I don't think there was an entire section devoted to various types of spaghetti sauce. People used to spend hours in the kitchen making various foods, from baked goods to dinners. There was no such thing as a microwave either. So things were made slowly, methodically, and in smaller portions, thus appreciated more.

  2. Speaking of walking to the supermarket, a Stop & Shop was built in my neighborhood of Boston that has no sidewalks. And it is in a lower-income neighborhood and one where many people walk to do their errands!