Milk,bread, cheese, cereal, sarcasm

I thought I had raised my kids better than this. I thought that my constant preaching on the subjects of not being overly concerned with the material things in life would make them better people. However, it seemed my offspring are too focused on the luxuries of life. They are so spoiled that they actually require food. They make these requests as many as three times a day. And since I have a really low tolerance for their whining about things like,”I am Hungry. I can feel my ribs. Please Daddy I am starting to pass out”, I have decided to feed them. I know. I know. I really do give in to them too easily. But that’s just me. I am a giver.

Since science has failed to perfect the Star Trek type food replicator, the decision to feed the kids means that someone has to prepare the foods and since Gordon Ramsey has not yet responded to my pleas to become my personal chef. I guess that means the responsibility to concoct their dinners falls on my shoulders. Now, I have no real problem with my refrigerator being used for nothing more than a way to store the left over Chinese food and the stove just being the the place where we stack the pizza boxes when the delivery guy brings them. But due to the state of Florida’s failure to select the correct lottery numbers( my numbers are the right ones and everybody else has the wrong ones), the economic pressure of eating out every meal means that some food will(gasp) have to be prepared in the big white room where we keep the beer. I think its called a kitchen.

Unfortunately, the food industry has conspired to complicate the whole food obtaining process. Apparently, just standing on your front porch and yelling,”I need meat!” will not result in a delivery truck from the the local grocer appearing at your door. It will however get you a smile and a wink from the well dressed single guy that lives across the street. This means that one must make a pilgrimage to one of the local freakshows that we call grocery stores. The conspiracy that the food industry has put upon us is not happy with us having to visit their putrid little hell holes once. No siree bob, they make it so you have to go back again and again. Can someone please explain to me how this is fair: The average livespan of a domestic chicken is 3 years. However, when you remove the feathers and you know… that that same chicken the remaining meat won’t last on the kitchen counter more than 2 days. And don’t give me that crap about having to refrigerate poultry. To the best of my knowledge, most chicken ranches, not to be confused with the Moonlight Bunny Ranch, are not located in the Arctic Circle. If a noisy smelly bird can take the heat of a South Georgia summer in a hen house, it should be o.k. to sit on my counter for at least a week. Hell, at least I have central air. Secondly, I spent a lot of freaking money for that Corian counter top and I need to use it for more than a place to bang my head against when the crushing misery of my life becomes too much to take, but alas that is a story for another time.

As I have referenced before I live in a lower middle class neighboorhood in North Florida. While we may be a retail wasteland in dire need of new shopping opportunities. I am talking to you Macy’s and Ikea. Prior to recently we have had a good selection of quality grocery stores, but that is before the 200 pound gorilla that promises low prices everyday came to town. I remember fondly shopping with my mom when I was younger at the local small independent grocer. I would sit in the small cart while my mother would would make her selections.  I can still hear the clink of bottles as she put her purchases into the buggy. Shopping with my mother was also educational as we would use our trips as an opportunity to learn and improve my vocabulary skills. I  was a smart child and learned to quickly recognize the words that identified the distinct items offered. I could spell,”whiskey” and “rum” and “vodka” and “cognac”. And if I was really well behaved, mom would get me a little package of plastic swords to play with that they sold at the check out. Oh wait, maybe that wasn’t a grocery store after all.

Thanks to large corporate super stores, we only have two major grocery store chains to choose from here. One is a well lit, clean and organized, store full of fresh selections with a plentiful staff of knowledgeable employees who carry your groceries to your car for you. The other store is the one I shop at. I am not saying that I live in a poor neighborhood, but the free samples at my grocery store are often generic cigarettes and malt liquor. My store puts two boxes of Fruit Roll-ups on a display and calls it the produce department. Let’s just say that the majority of the brands they offer feature the word “valu” in the title, and yes they do spell it that way. My store is staffed by a combination of rejects from the local halfway house and apparently the majority of the students from the nearest middle school. I know that kids need to learn the value of work, but could we first teach them the value of not putting 10 pounds of potatoes on top of the Merita bread. The young baggers also fail to assist you out to your car with your purchases. This is probably for the best because none of them are quick enough to keep up with the serpentine route I have to take to avoid the various meth addicts and other sob stories that the loiterers in the parking lot use to try to extort the last two dollars out of me as I try to  load my groceries. Apparently there is a rash of long distance travelers traversing this nation, and every one of them seems to “run out of gas” in the parking lot of my grocery store.

Although I may complain about my store, I feel comfortable there. However, every once in a while I decide to prepare a meal that requires more ingredients than ramen noodles and a flavor packet. This translates into the need for me to visit a store with more diverse grocery offerings. Recently I decided that it was time to shop at one of the better stores in town. I had heard of this large natural grocery store that had been opened on the other side of town and decided to check it out. To not be unfair, we will just call it Hole Foods. They must have named it thus because “the grocery store for stuck up douche bags” wouldn’t fit on the sign. I should have known that I was in for trouble when I spotted “Buffy” and “Chad” lamenting how they ever were going to fit two bags of groceries into their Smart Car. Maybe you should have bought a vehicle made by somebody other than Matchbox. Anyway, I made my way across the parking lot and into the store. The first thing I noticed was how small the carts were. Little did I realize that filling a standard sized shopping cart with items priced as they are at this store would result in a grocery bill larger than the G.D.P. of most developing nations. You enter the store through the produce department. At least I think it was the produce department. The bananas were so small that if I am not sure if they were actually bananas or if I was looking at a pregnant plantains sonogram. I understand that there is a slightly higher cost for things that are organic, but come on people. The last time I paid this much for things that grew on bushes, I at least got high. I swear that if I bought the ingredients for small fruit salad, the amount would be higher than the amount I have in my 401k. I also noticed that they fancy themselves as a charitable business. They had a display set up where you could buy a pair of shoes to be shipped to the underprivileged in Africa. The shoes that they expected you to buy and donate were TOMS, at $70 a pair. Listen, I accept the fact that the Kenyans kick our ass in every marathon that they compete in but if they are going to do so I am just going to send them L.A. Gears if that is alright with you.

I can tolerate the high prices if I could at least recognize some of the brand names. For goodness sake, I know that the point behind this store is to provide healthier alternatives for people but any store that doesn’t carry Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes is not a store. It’s a communist plot. I did love the holier than thou attitudes that all the other shoppers had at the store. You are right Mr. Birkenstock, when I am not shopping for Oreos at my regular grocery store, I am busy cutting down rain forests and clubbing baby seals. The attitudes were especially bad around the bulk food display. Bulk foods is where you fill you own bags from big barrels of various nuts and other grains. I have shopped in this manner before. The last time I had to bag up my grains and nuts, the sign on the store front said, “Feed and Seed”, so save me the self righteousness.

The only redeeming value, or so I thought, about this store was that they have hot food bars that are sort of like a Golden Corral for the unshaven legs crowd. The food was just like Golden Corral in that it was average in every way. I actually was enjoying myself until I pointed out that they needed to add a chocolate fountain and a cotton candy machine. The management at that point had had enough of my suggestions and asked me to leave. So here I am back in line at my regular grocery store behind what looks like the touring version of the Maury Show and, oh goody, its WIC check day. Well at least the cashier seems nice and to speed things along I might point out to here that she is looking for the code for cantaloupes under “k”. Nah, I will just wait…and eat my Frosted Flakes.



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