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Honestly, I really do like the grocery store.

Wednesday, 14 July, 2010

This is a rant and may not make sense.

  • Grocer: Person or assembly of persons engaged in the trade of agricultural produce. A grocer may be wholesale, retail or both.
  • Grocery: The grocer’s place of business.
  • Grocery Store: A retail establishment whose focus is the sale of agricultural produce, but whose business is not exclusively so.
  • Dealer: A party who is neither a farmer or grocer acting between these parties. The person who buys produce at a truck farm and delivers to market is a dealer.
  • Market: A specific area, either private or established by authority, where dealers and wholesalers in agricultural produce may gather.
  • Supermarket (“super market” is a trademark): A grocery, butcher shop, bakery, dairy and so forth under one roof. Originally, several areas of the store were operated by companies whose name was not on the door.
  • Hypermarket: a supermarket and discount-department store under one roof. Usually “Super [trademark]” in North America.
  • Farmer’s Market: an idea of the 1930’s by which a market is established to allow either farmers or dealers to gather and sell their produce to the general public.
  • Truck Farm: a small farm, usually under five acres, typically in as continuous production as possible with the intent to sell produce to dealers who then work the market.

I can remember a time, if only just, when diary, green grocer, butcher, grocer were all separate trades. I suspect this is because my town was (allegedly) behind the times.

Every neighborhood had a bakery, if not several, and they did not focus upon donuts and cakes. You would buy your bread at the bakery, paying an extra nickel to have it sliced as thick as you wanted, and bring it home to store in your bread box. Sometimes it would still be warm as it went into the bread box. Bread is supposed to last about three days. After three days you can make other things with it or feed it to someone with a cold.

Your bread box didn’t need to be very big because only so much bread would be used before it went stale. If anyone knows where I can get a kuchen, please let me know.

I explicitly remember Haywood’s Dairy, Ehrler’s Dairy, and Bowman Dairy. By the time I was sentient, Sealtest was distributed exclusively in supermarkets. I recall stories of the Cherokee Dairy. Bowman sold their business to the Dixie Home Stores and donated their grazing land to the city for the purpose of establishing an “air port”. I shall never again experience anything as wonderful as Bowman Chocolate Milk. I recall stopping at a Winn-Dixie in Waco, just to buy what I assumed was WD’s house brand chocolate milk. Epic fail.

Although the last WD stores in Austin closed in 1993, no one recalls where these stores were located. Oddly, WD ran television commercials in the Austin market until at least 1997.

When I was raised vegetables were evil and best avoided. I have very little recollection of green grocers until I moved into town.

I bitch and moan about the sparse grocery stores, hypermarkets and so forth but only because I did not understand the model of my MSA. “Downtown Austin” has become little more than a New Urbanist development. If you don’t know why New Urbanist is an idiotic idea, you have no hope. From the I-35 & I-10 interchange to Belton Texas, you have non-stop sprawl. The areas which resemble rational civic planning have been altered to resemble fashionable suburban development. When you see new photos of the Austin skyline, know that the buildings are no less than 70% unoccupied. US 183 criss-crosses this area and is also a nexus of sprawl.

As it happens, I don’t have so much hope myself. When I think of places to buy food, I think of Kroger, Safeway, Winn-Dixie (rip), &c. I also think of, and this is very specific geographically, Melton’s, Key Market, Gateway, &c.

Today is the day in which our long-suffering postal worker is compelled to bring around 2 lbs. of advertising to every single box on his routes. This advertising includes offers from HEB (my grocer), their division Central Markup, (HEB’s Combo Loco is now Central Market’s Foodie Freebie), Newflower (aka Sunflower), Sprouts, Sun Harvest (a co-brand of Whole Foods), and La Michoacana a proper neighborhood market who … well, they are not marketing to my demographic. The mailer isn’t even in my primary language.

Somehow, I respect this.

I spent more time than you would imagine alone in an automobile trying to get something to eat. I eventually gave up. If suburbia is the development model going forward, I want no part of it.

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