Who Needs the Super Store?

A 72-hour hour strike notice was given to area stores by the grocery worker’s union Friday.  I am friends with several grocery workers in the area and many of the union claims seem fair.  I understand the need for a union to protect its workers. (Although having been required to belong to one as a healthcare worker at both SEIU and OPEIU I never experienced the kind of benefit increases or advocation that the United Food and Commercial Workers are asking for. In fact, as a healthcare worker, I never experienced a cost of living increase, more affordable healthcare benefits, or as good a pay as checkers get. But I digress.)

I think the real problem is playing along with large superstores in our daily lives.  At the themsgoodeatin house, we shop in stores as little as possible. This year we made the effort to only go grocery shopping monthly. In fact we just stocked up (bought more baking soda, toilet paper, and peanut butter) at the employee-owned big box today. I realized our last trip to was over three months ago.  How did we do that?  We stopped using the plan that the big stores sell and the big box companies want you to buy.

Don’t buy processed food.  If you need the scrumptious taste of (fill in the blank with whatever processed “new-need” you have) figure out a way to make it on your own.  I guarantee it can be done, healthier, tastier and cheaper. Let’s take frozen french fries.  We make them periodically from potatoes.  IMG_0292

When I make fries, I lacto-ferment them in a salt brine (2 tsp. salt and water to cover… maybe a penny worth) for 2-3 days and then fry them in home-rendered tallow (free from the local butcher). When we had room to grow potatoes they cost almost nothing.  Even now, they are among the cheapest vegetable to purchase, usually averaging around .25/pound. Frozen french fries come in a 32 ounce bag and average about $1.75/pound so that’s $3.50  What’s in ’em?  POTATOES, VEGETABLE OIL (SUNFLOWER, COTTONSEED, SOYBEAN, AND/OR CANOLA), SALT, DEXTROSE, DISODIUM DIHYDROGEN PYROPHOSPHATE, and ANNATTO (VEGETABLE COLOR). I don’t know why there needs to be dextrose or disodium dihydrogen in fries. And, I’m sorry, ‘vegetable color?’ Really? And of all those oils listed, which ones are actually as healthy at a high temp as tallow? Even if you avoid going into a Paleo fat cooking debate, I would suggest that the fat that you can produce or buy from the producer (tallow, lard, butter) is preferable to the fat that is expeller-pressed as a bi-product of some other product in an attempt to utilize a value-added product to a factory product (cottonseed, sunflower, soybean and canola).  This is an example of one product that you can eliminate from buying at the grocer.

The super market is not actually necessary.  This nostalgic video wasn’t that long ago.

I’m sorry that the workers are finding that, like all other workers that line up for huge conglomerate-jobs, their needs come last. As consumers, if we focused more on growing as much of our own food and purchasing what we NEED from local producers, the super market’s model would go away.  Or at least be less super.

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