Saturday, November 22, 2008

Food Grouch

Geoff just called me a "food grouch." Since moving to Michigan in 2004, our friends have sung the praises of Ann Arbor. "Oh, you'll never like East Lansing, Betty. I know you. But you'll love Ann Arbor." "There's better food in Ann Arbor." "Ann Arbor has better bookstores." Ann Arbor this, Ann Arbor that. After my food shopping experiences today, I am feeling less than chipper and pining for familiar old favorites like the Meridian Township Farmers' Market, Schuler's Bookstore, and the East Lansing Food Co-op. But here's why I'm grouchy. Our first trip this morning was to the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market. What drives me crazy about this farmers' market is that none of the organic farmers list food prices. So every week, I load up my bag with goodies, tell the farmer (or whoever happens to be working the stand that day) what I've got and some number spills out of their mouth. Today, it was $29. Last week I bought about the same amount of produce and it was $14. What's the deal?! I could ask what each item costs but why do I have to? I've never been to a farmers' market where products weren't labeled with prices. I want to pay a fair price for food but really, was the price of the vegetables we bought today really $29? I guess we'll never know. Our next stop was Zingerman's for our usual cup of coffee and pastry. Since my good friend Allison was coming over for lunch, I also hit the deli for some meat, cheese, and olives. I settled on nicoise olives ($18.99 per pound) and French sausage for $12. It was a splurge but Allison is moving to Italy and today was our last visit together for awhile. And honestly, since I haven't bought nicoise olives in a long time, I couldn't remember what they typically go for. Plus, if it tasted as good as it looked (or if you get what you pay for), why not? But it didn't. The nicoise olives weren't anything special and the French sausage was horrible and left me feeling sick to my stomach. After my food experiences today, I am wondering what all of the Ann Arbor hype is about...well, maybe that isn't a fair statement. There are some good things about food in Ann Arbor. Like Alex Nemeth's Fuji apples. I feel better just thinking about the big bag of Fuji apples in my refrigerator. They are the perfect size, crunchy, and sweet. Now those are good apples. And they're affordable too.

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