The $4 Store

This post was inspired by a trip to Whole Paycheck Foods and a subsequent reading of Bill Moyers’s interview of Michael Pollan in Moyers’s book Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues, a birthday present from Stella.

We’ve all seen stores named The Dollar Store (indeed, there’s one all over East Texas called Dollar Tree, but I thought Christianity disapproved of that sort of stuff…). As usual, when I exited the checkout line at WF, I paused (out of the way, of course) to review my register receipt, and was amazed at how many individual items were $3.49, $3.99, $4.49 or $4.99. So Whole Foods is The $4 Store. Well, I don’t go there for cheap groceries; there are never any to be had. But this was a particularly restrained, selective shopping trip, intended not to break the bank account; more than a few things have gone up dramatically in the past couple of months.

If I had to guess, I’d go with Michael Pollan’s reasoning: fuel prices drive food prices. Some of the items aren’t typically grown in Texas, and those were indeed more expensive… plain old broccoli was $2.99/lb. Pollan’s solution is basically Fallenmonk‘s: grow your own. That assures you of the shortest possible supply chain, and probably the minimum fuel cost. The only problem is that you have to grow it.

I am looking out the window at a back-yard bordered plot put in by some prior tenant. At present it contains only volunteers descending from various surrounding trees. Part of me is inclined to try growing something; part of me remembers that once I get down on my knees, I cannot get up again without help. I’m afraid I’m not the stuff of which gardeners are made. But at least the idea has been planted…

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  • MandT  On Monday August 8, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Here’s an idea: First year plant a 4’X10′ raised garden with recycled wood, invest in good soil. This will be the big expense. then the next year plant tomatoes, squash, greens—-major healthy vegies. You should be able to plant and harvest standing up or in a chair. yesterday at Safeway we paid nearly $4.00 for a pound of hamburger—– unbelievable.

    • Steve  On Monday August 8, 2011 at 5:03 pm

      MandT, thanks for the suggestion; something like that may well work. The existing bed is just about that size, in partial sun and partial shade, with wooden borders already in place and in fairly good condition. I’m sure the soil would have to be replaced, and I would almost certainly hire the fellow who does my lawn to do that (he does carry the more glorified title of landscaper :-)) and to advise me on the particulars of what, when, etc.

      I just hope I don’t do with this idea what I did with the baking… pursue it enthusiastically for a while and then abandon it. (Yes, I now buy my bread, yes, from Whole Paycheck, and yes, it’s a $4 item!)

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