I've already written before about how much we enjoy shopping at our local farm market, Detweilers. But some things bear repeating. The food is local, it's fresh and it's far more reasonably priced than most of what is in the local grocery store. The fruits and vegetables are ripe and they have fragrance and flavour, two things that grocery store produce often lack. We even buy most of our meats at Detweilers and for the same reasons: better price, better quality and locally grown.
Which is not the same thing as saying that I never shop at my local Publix. I absolutely do! And I really like Publix too. It's clean, it's tidy, the people there are very nice, and it's right here on the island. In fact, I buy just about everything else that we require at Publix. Not produce or meat, but just about everything that is prepackaged and non-fresh. Which, when I think about it is a lot.
Toiletries, cleaning products, canned goods, frozen items, boxed and bagged items like cereal, crackers, granola bars. And of course pantry items, like foil and parchment paper and flour and various vinegars and spices and well, it's a long list usually. I'm usually there once a week.
I say, I am usually there once a week because 9 times out of 10, I am the ones who does the shopping. Tim doesn't actually mind shopping but it just works out best for our schedule if grocery shopping is something that ends up on my gotta-do list rather than Tim's. But every once in a very long while, we shop together at Publix. And that is always the most fun trip ever at a grocery store. And here is why:
When I shop, I have my list in my hand and a plan in my mind. I already have an idea what I will be cooking throughout the week and what is in the fridge and the pantry so I know what I need. I rarely deviate from the list and the plan. My goal is to get in and get out as quickly as possible. I already know where everything is in the store so I can skip entire aisles. For instance, I know that the shampoo I use is on the third shelf down from the top about 3/4 of the way down the toiletries aisle. And since there is nothing else I need in that particular area, I don't even look at anything else. I scoot quickly down the row, nip that bottle off the shelf and continue on my way. I don't even stop and just barely slow down. When it comes to a trip to Publix I am In and Out. It is a rare occasion indeed when I stroll through a grocery shopping trip and peruse the shelves.
Tim, on the other hand, likes to look around. Perhaps since he doesn't often shop, it's the novelty of the occasion that makes him see things that I don't. Or maybe it's just his nature to see things differently. But whatever the reason, we end up spending a lot more time in the store than when I go alone. We go up and down every row far more slowly. We look around in sections I usually just breeze past. And ultimately things end up in our grocery cart that I never even heard of before. And that is exactly what happened the last time Tim shopped with me.
This is what typically happens: we mosey down a row together, he pushing the cart, me consulting the list in my hand. At some point I ask him a question without looking up. There is no answer so I come to a full stop and looked up. No Tim. I turn around. He is still at the top of the aisle. So I traipes back up and see him put, whatever he was looking at in the cart. Repeat. Repeat. This happens over and again throughout the store. Eventually I learn to slow my roll.
Sometimes it was because he saw a really good deal. A buy one get two kind of thing. And as long as it's something with a long shelf life that we will actually use, yes! That is a great idea. I almost never notice those signs. Sometimes it was because it was something he never had tried before that sounded good to him. Which is how he found the Doritos brand multi-grain roasted red pepper tortilla chips which, as it turned out, became a new favourite. Sometimes it's an item that I especially l enjoy but never buy because I am the only one who likes it, like Peach Jam (I adore Peach jam!) I tend to buy strawberry because we both like it instead. Suddenly there is a jar of peach jam in our pantry too because Tim put it in the cart. How sweet is that?
And because Tim shops completely differently than I do and is far more adventurous with food than I am, he found his new favourite salsa. (photo above) It is locally made in Ybor City and is called, "Cigar City Smoked Salsa." He absolutely loves it! Yes of course, I could make a good fresh salsa myself but this one has a unique smokiness in addition to the snap of various sorts of peppers that make is special. What a delight! And it's Local! Wow! But we bought it at - not the farm market - but at the local Publix! Wow! (It was not, by the way, in the chips aisle with every other typical jarred salsas but in the international foods section on the complete other end of the store. I would NEVER have thought to look there)
That same grocery trip, Tim also picked up a container of guacamole (also photo above) because he knows that is one of my most favourite things in the world. I actually didn't know it was in the cart until we got home and we were putting groceries away. In my head I was not excited at the idea of, pre-made guac. And in fact, while I, of course, thanked him for buying it for me, in my head I was expecting it to be very "meh". I was wrong. I was wrongity wrong and happily so. It was wonderful! And again, locally made with fresh local ingredients. But right there on my Publix shelves!
I learned a valuable lesson. I need to slow down my grocery shopping more and see what other locally made treasures there are in my local Chain Grocery store that I have been missing out on! And instead of automatically reaching for the same brand of the same items every time I shop, I need to take a few more chances, be a little more adventurous and try something new now and again.
It will be an interesting experiment to see my contents of my local Publix differently. What else have I been missing out on????? We shall see!
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.