The Best Reason To Garden: Avoiding The Price Chopper


_Device Memory_home_user_pictures_IMG00045Yeah, yeah, I like beauty.  I like flowers.  But as my vacation in Maine last week reminded me, what I REALLY like to do given a bit of leisure and kids occupied by the water is cook.  And that, my friends, is why I garden.

The nicest thing about cooking at my friends Martha and Tom's house on Mt. Desert is eating what I cook with six happy kids and the delightful Martha and Tom. But the second nicest thing is that the meals are generally made with the pooled harvest of two ambitious vegetable gardens. 

This year, the star of the show was a huge basket of Tom's potatoes.  Tom's garden in the city of Cambridge, MA has miraculously escaped late blight.  Mine, in the countryside of Salem, NY and at least a mile from the nearest vegetable garden, has sadly not.  Some people will tell you potatoes taste better after they've been stored for a while.  In my experience, this is only true for STORAGE varieties.  Otherwise, nothing in life is really better than a fresh-dug and boiled Yukon Gold, particularly if Martha has been irresponsible with the butter, salt and dill.

Because of late blight and hardly any sunshine in the rainiest summer in memory in upstate New York, we had only a handful of my tomatoes. (Fellow Ranter Amy Stewart astonished me once when she told me she couldn't grow tomatoes in her fogged-in coastal town of Eureka, CA.  How could any Californian fail with a tomato?  Amy, I get it now.)

I roasted my tomatoes to make osso buco, and it was good.  Then, at the end of our stay, I made a Bolognese sauce and was forced to use ordinary supermarket canned tomatoes.  They tasted like…absolutely nothing.

Because I have a garden, I avoid such lousy food for months and months and months at a time, buying milk and meat from farmers and otherwise making meals out of whatever the garden happens to be offering.

Even more important, I largely avoid the source of all such bad ingredients: the supermarket.

Failures in terms of flavor don't begin to explain my intense dislike of the supermarket. I resent the fact that though I live downtown, I have to drive to a supermarket. The one walkable supermarket in Saratoga Springs, NY, pictured in the blurry camera photo above, goes beyond selling flavorless food into the realm of dusty and expired.

The intense air conditioning also bothers me and it reminds me of the degree to which I'm eating wasted energy in eating supermarket food.  The windowless space depresses me.

Finally, the supermarket is not convenient, though sold to our culture as an invention of convenience.  It is much easier to maintain a vegetable garden in summer than it is to drive to the supermarket twice a week and trudge its aisles to buy and unloads bags of groceries.  A more pleasant shopping experience, too.


  1. I love my local supermarket. It is a regional one, actully started in my town on mainstreet many decades ago. They buy local produce. They go to the nearby Amish produce auction and buy stuff. It does not have all the stuff of a farmer’s market and in the winter nothing is local, but this is Ohio so there is nothing local in the winter. They have a small, but expanding, organinc section. I am spoiled.

  2. Thank goodness for my CSA this summer, because my veg. garden has really suffered with the crazy weather here in the northeast. I agree with you though Michelle, I’d much rather work in the garden than go to the supermarket.

  3. Hear, hear! Last year I had the experience of wandering into the supermarket in February, having forgotten how to buy vegetables. I’m hoping with the extra raised bed to avoid that experience altogether this year.

  4. I agree, Michele. Even with the so-so weather here in NY, I spent less than $20 on vegetables this summer because I got most of them from the garden. I doubt I can keep that up, but it sure was nice while it lasted.

  5. Here in Northern California, I can ‘shop’ the garden all year long for dinner. Tomatoes, beans, squash, melons & exotics in summer; salad makings & greens, root crops & sweet peas all winter. My kids actually think of the winter garden as the better of the two ! And in the Central Valley, we’re never more than a few miles from folks growing all manner of nuts, fruits, citrus, mushrooms, grains, grass-fed meats … Sometimes I think it is the (gastronome’s) Promised Land ! When I go to the supermarket, I rarely go to the produce aisle. If I do, it’s for bananas or, on rare occasion, celery.

  6. Price Chopper is hyocritical. Every summer they sponsoe the fourth of July festivities in Albany, NY. Mrs. Price Chopper gets on WGY (AM 810) and says what a wonderful day it is for families.

    Really Mrs. Price Chopper? Then why are your stores open on July 4? Do you only make people without families work that day?

    I wrote to their corporate offices about such hypocrisy but no one from the Price Chopper family responded.

    The Golubs do a lot of good charitable work for the region but you pay for it by their very high prices and their employees pay for it by working on holidays.

    The TROLL

  7. Your readers may want to visit – a site that helps diminish hunger by enabling backyard gardeners to share their crops with neighborhood food pantries.

    The site is free both for the food pantries and the gardeners using it.

    Over 890 food pantries nationwide are already on it and more are signing up daily.

  8. Amen, sister! I have a neighbor who is lusting after my corn (in the front yard). I talked to her about it and told her just how EASY it is to grow – she could fill up her empty backyard with it next year. She kinda looked at me funny and just smiled a little. It was obvious that she’ll never do it. All right then, store-bought for you I thought!

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