the state

-of muscle milk; ¿downtown groceries? by jgrimsrud
Tuesday, 10 February 2009, 1:37
Filed under: -of eats, -of jgrimsrud, -of localism, -of townie-to-townie

i can’t help but think all the hoopla about alex rodriguez’s steroid use is a teensy bit hypocritical when joe sixpack can buy this stuff at the corner convenience store:

dsc00097we’ve snapped photos at the downtown one-stop convenience before (“fuel up with the taste you love”!)but i want to tease w/ plenty of love, because the one-stop market is a great spot–they have cheap gas, a great beer selection, really nice managers, american spirits, and they’re right downtown.  i feel happy that i can easily walk down and pick up beer, cigs, wine, etc. in the immediate downtown neighborhood, and i don’t even want to think about how happy i’ll be when the farmers’ market returns…

the downside is how hard it is to find good groceries (real food i mean, not various drugs or food-like-substitutes) w/in range of my wimpy legs.  i do head to red front, but their produce section is frightening (a french friend went on a tirade to me lately about how americans kill their cheese w/ plastic wrappers–too true at red front; & how do they manage to carry one line of t & e meats that has MSG?! ), and i hit the little store at the little grill for great, cheap eggs, local syrup, awesome hummus, etc.–but it’s barely in downtown and i have trouble getting them at the right hours (as in walking down there today to be reminded that some businesses consider monday the day of rest…).

my spot for milk had been the midtown market.  but this place has been a major disappointment.  for one thing they occupy the old town and campus record building–i know it’s no fault of their own that t&c died, but i still mourn its passing.  another is that they carry so few good fresh or local groceries (¿!do you want a niche or not!?).  but they did carry homestead creamery milk.this stuff is great–and they make all kinds of special milks, like wonderful buttermilk, creamline whole milk, strawberry & orange milks, etc, etc.  now, midtown only seemed to carry a couple (say 2% and whole?).  but as of last week, not even that.  the owner was in, and explained to me that his slipped disc (?) in his back prohibited him going to kroger to pick up his stock.  so he gave up.

he said they might start stocking shenandoah’s pride, which is technically local, & i buy it sometimes at red front, but there’s the problem: you can by shenandoah’s pride at red front, the dollar store (for god’s sake!) and practically everywhere else.  and it’s nothing special (if i’m going to grow man-breasts, at least make them from good cream, not cow hormones).

i’m glad that more living spaces are coming in downtown.  i’m extremely glad that the farmer’s market got a permanent shelter (though mad at old man winter & his dastardly calendar).  but harrisonburgers can’t live on bread (and indian american, blue nile, clementine, muscle milk & armour sausages) alone.

we need fresh and local food.  we need it in our belly.


…of course, then we also need sidewalks to get us around downtown & adjascent neighborhoods, and drivers that don’t gun their engines when a pedestrian (and his 2 year old) enter their sights, but that’s another night’s blogging…


4 Comments so far
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I believe the Friendly City Co-Op will help with a good amount of what you’re describing, when it’s up and running. 🙂

Comment by Brooke

Re: The Little Grill being closed on Mondays…you do realize that Monday (lunchtime) is their soup kitchen day? Free food for all. And I have to stand up for Red Front’s produce. Maybe it’s not at its prime in the middle of winter, but it has long been known for having an excellent selection of in-season produce.

Comment by Alison

someday over the rainbow….

but seriously, you’re absolutely right, brooke & i’m eagerly awaiting the coop! but until i hear anything concrete, i’m probably more likely to be gratified if i put my hopes in the coming farmers’ market season…

this is exactly why the friendly city food coop is needed–and soon! (and now, from the rumor mill: ) and why the old car dealership at liberty & wolfe should be the site for it, at an affordable rent. the landlord would be doing the community a service (fulfilling their civic responsibility, one may say), and a more affordable rent would certainly pay better than a vacant building.

& it’s sad that at a time of economic crisis, park view credit union isn’t willing/able to invest in such a crucial local business. and when the city can sell the old jail building at rock-bottom prices to rosetta stone, where’s the political will to make downtown living sustainable?

Comment by vastate

thanks, alison, & i hope i’m being overly harsh w/ red front. but i’ve seen very little in the way of local focus, or other values that place anything on a level w/ price…which is, of course, important, but paying less to ship money out of our local economy & to eat less healthily is a perversion, so to speak, of thrifty mennonite values. still, i’d rather walk to red front than to drive to kroger, food lion, or worse yet, martins, who seems to have an institutional policy against local sourcing?!

and, yes, the grill free lunch is great–i was just feeling grumpy about not finding eggs to buy & wondering why the place was totally deserted. i guess the free lunch ends quickly?
anyway, along w/ the great restaurant they’ve got, i think the “little store” is such a great resource! i know they’re store across the way didn’t last, but i’d love to see an expanded selection of groceries for sale out of the restaurant building w/ more visibility inside & outside the restaurant.
to get my fresh, local dozen eggs, maple syrup, & hummus, there’s nowhere better, and my son & i can share a cookie on the walk home–not bad at all.

Comment by vastate

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