My boyfriend and I discovered this local Mexican market, the Glebe Market, which has a great variety of local produce (actually ripe mangoes and avocados) and Latin-inspired foods that you can't find in your local grocery store. Mind you, the store front and interior isn't much to look at but the cheap prices and variety trumps the aesthetics. And who doesn't love trying a new food?
For example, my boyfriend and I discovered fresh bean and cheese pupusas. Pupusas are a think corn flour pancake filled with beans and cheese. (You can also get the meat versions of this) They are delicious and easy to make. Heating them up in olive oil on the skillet is probably the best. They make a great addition to a quick weeknight dinner.
The other day a rare thing happened. I actually had an enjoyable grocery shopping experience. I went to the Mexican market, which is family-owned, and actually struck up conversations with several shoppers. This one woman said she had been shopping there for at least 20 years. She told me about the fresh tortillas and told me the best way to cook them.
It was just so refreshing to talk to a few people in the grocery store and have a pleasurable, not rushed experience. It was more of an adventure searching the aisles for foreign foods that I have never heard of. (Dried black potatoes!?) And there is a great feeling about supporting a local business. After all, small businesses are the backbone of our American economy.
I watched CNBC's "Supermarket Inc.: Inside a $500 Billion Money Machine" the other night and was completely fascinated by what I learned. It's a documentary about the 48,000 items that battle for precious shelf space. It discussed how shopping carts have doubled in size, why milk is placed in the back of the store so you have to walk by hundreds of other items first, and how difficult it is for the "small guy" to break into the mammoth supermarket scene.
Going into my local grocery store (Harris Teeter and Giant) after watching the documentary just wasn't the same. I almost wanted to make purchases and shop in a way that would "beat the grocery market system." The documentary definitely made me rethink my shopping habits and left me wanting to support my local food grocer even more.