Annapolis, Maryland has a ton of options for food shopping. I can go to Trader Joe’s, Giant, Safeway, Shopper’s Warehouse, Whole Foods and now Fresh Market. Trader Joe’s is great, but it is a little limiting. You can’t do all your food shopping there, but you can get some fun things that you might not be able to find other places and everything is reasonably priced. The Giant near me is the one they call the “Gucci Giant” and it is good for all the things the other places that give a damn about your health (or at least pretend to) don’t carry – like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter which I literally drown nearly all my food in but which I know some day will cause an undeveloped twin to pop out of head.
The Safeway’s here are sketchy – one is nestled amongst neighborhoods most often seen in “police beat” in the local paper, and one has lighting so dim I had to feel my way around the aisles. I was so depressed by the time I left I nearly put rocks in my pockets, waded into the bay and pulled a Virginia Woolf before I realized I’d been struck by a Dim Safeway induced bout of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Then there is Whole Foods, which I still call Fresh Fields and probably will until I die. (I still call refrigerators “ice boxes” and I wasn’t even born yet when people stopped doing that.) The first time I went to Fresh F— er, Whole Foods, I have to admit – I felt like I had just graduated to some new advanced, glamorous level of food shopping. Since I tend to food shop in flip-flops and sweats, I also felt tragically under dressed. All the x-ray thin 30-something MILFs were clicking around in their Jimmy Choo’s, pushing their cherub-faced babies around, and purchasing their granola mix and organic sheep’s bladder condoms for the next day’s “fitness trainer session” before their 65 year old husbands came home. Strolling between them were the vegan yuppies with their white skin, celtic tattoos, faux dreadlocks and college educations paid by Mommy and Daddy; busy keeping the world safe for their future kids Buddha and Sunbeam by buying organic. I felt richer and healthier just walking in the door.
But by the second time I shopped in Whole Foods, I began to see the dark side of organic living. First, I bought about four things before I’d blown a Benjamin. Things were WAY overpriced! Who knew? I was so used to shopping at the same places where I didn’t bother to look at prices that I’d thought the fact that they made me take out a second mortgage at the checkout the first time was an anomaly. Second – I couldn’t find ANYTHING. I spent 20 minutes walking up and down every aisle trying to find a jar of apple sauce. And they didn’t have any of my staples. If you want paper towels you have to buy their crazy brands, which, judging by the price, are hand knitted by woodland nymphs. And by the feel of the tissues they are knitted out actual wood, I’ll have to give them that.
Third and last – the people are OBNOXIOUS. I had about four stretched-skinned cougars bump into me, butt in front of me, or otherwise make it clear to me that THEY were shopping and I was in their way. It doesn’t help that the aisles in that particular store were only wide enough for size zeroes to fit down, and thinking back on it, I don’t believe anymore that was an accident. Whole Foods was weeding out heavy shoppers – bad for their image. Since then the Whole Foods here moved and the aisles are a little larger, but it is full of all the same stuff I don’t want – of the food and the people variety.
Which is not to say I don’t like organic. I am totally a proponent of organic. Which is why I was happy to find Fresh Market. I still get all my meat directly from our local butcher at the Butcher’s Block (302 Harry S Truman Pkwy Suite K – please visit them because if they ever go out of business I will die!) so I didn’t try any of Fresh Market’s wonderful-looking meat, but we did get quite a lot of everything else, from seafood to fruit. The best part is they mix the organic items with actual every day staples, like Bounty paper towels — no tree bark toilet paper if you don’t want it! And they allow themselves to sell some low fat things, knowing full well a few chemicals in the interest of fitting into your new 7 for All Mankind jeans is perfectly acceptable. (Because when they say “7″ they don’t mean a size “7″ – they mean you better hope each of your legs weigh sevens pounds, tops.)
Mike and I went around 10am and the place was empty, which was also a delight. No getting trampled by hoards of granola munching goths or having a lung punctured by a Manolo Blahnik while reaching for a $60 veal cutlet. All the vegetables were laid out in some sort of logic fashion as well – I felt like I was just tripping from old favorite to old favorite instead of spending an hour wondering why half the potatoes are in one spot and the other half are over by the salad dressings. I just want to do my shopping and go home – I don’t want to play catch me if you can with a jar of apple sauce.
Bottom line – I dig Fresh Market. I only hope that I can recapture the magic the next time I return.
Either way, Whole Foods can kiss my flip-flop and sweats wearing, every-day-brand consuming ass. Even if they do have that space-age magnetic cart escalator thingy.