Quiet labor

I spent the weekend in town, namely because my car’s still at the body shop, and also because the new roommate moved in yesterday. So there was much to do and I’m still doing it at time of tapping this. But the piles are subsiding and I’m making progress in attacking the dust bunnies that leap out whenever you turn your home upside down to accommodate a new roommate. On the upside, one of these days, and I’m getting closer to it, most of my possessions will have made their way to storage, save for L.L. Bean totes-full of clothes, and some boxes of pots and pans, and books, whatever I can stuff into bella noir and maybe, finally make my way west again young woman. The dream continues!

Well, staying in town wasn’t the worst thing. On a holiday weekend, unless you venture into turista jourisdictions, you can enjoy, more or less, a quiet(er), less hectic, nearly peaceful existence. I took long walks with the two poodles every day and enjoyed some peaceful moments and sounds, scents, sights of nature. Fancy that. Though the little man had a run in, literally, with a big black lab at the dog park. What’s a little excitement, a bloody nose, and a seemingly sore jaw (repeated checks proved no winces to illustrate broken bones, though I’m no DVM)..

This afternoon, after several failed attempts to order Mexican comer delivery, (the local taqueria hung up on me a few times before finally letting me know nobody was there to take my order in English) I walked myself, sans lead and little bags for poo, to the market up the street.

Without an automobile for over two weeks, I’ve been going without my beloved trips to dearest Fairway. Before making it into the market, I was nearly sidetracked again into eating a restaurant meal, this time it would have been a stack of Labor day brunch pancakes. But when the waitress explained she didn’t believe the corn syrup, pardon her, the maple syrup was 100% corn, I made my way back out and next door to Franks.

Franks is a market that in recent years has joined the ranks of the Wa-hi conspiracy to price-fix provisions. About three years ago, every market in the neighborhood upped the price of a half gallon carton of organic milk to five dollars. This was before Pollan’s tour touting his essay, sorry, new book, telling all the media outlets we should pay more for food.

At the time the milk price fixing occurred, the professor of my online ag econ class I was taking that summer was impressed by Gothamites paying ten dollars for a gallon of milk; her family dairy certainly didn’t get nearly it’s fair share of that ten dollars, but her husband, who ran the dairy, still had zero interest in vertically integrating any marketing (direct to got milk drinkers) into his business.

So today, the price of a half gallon organic milk in the neighborhood is now $5.29. This is robbery. And this is one key reason why I keep a car in the city. Until dearest Fairways prices blow the roof off, or Columbia University takes over their space, I’m staying of the putt putt putt ways. I estimate that the straight shot there and home costs about 0.53 cents in gasoline. Cheaper than the subway, and ecology of time is one I am also a staunch advocate of.

The rest of my canvas bag not full of provisions weren’t any less highway robber-ish. For $39.32 all I came home with were three bottles of Boylans sodas, a box of triscuits, pint of Haagen-dazs, halva red licorice (got sweet tooth!), two items from the meat department (though one item was a mischarge; I bought only one), sharp cheddar slices, one day (plus) old baguette, and the aforementioned milk.

Their prices are off. The Boylans sodas, and I wince to tap this for fear of retribution (in the form of higher prices) cost half what they would downtown. But the triscuits cost about two dollars more than at Fairway. Sneaky folks at Franks do not stamp prices on the triscuits and do not mark the price on the shelf. That sticker shocker, at $4.59, induced not-so-mild pangs of buyers remorse. I will consider adding this to the list of provisions Monsieur picks up for me when he visits.

All this leads me to..

How am I supposed to want to support the little local, warm fuzzy markets when they price gouge like they do. It’s pretty blatant what is going on. Don’t get me started about prices at the market on my street, or the organic store that went under earlier this year. They stock poor quality produce, or leave shelves empty, then overprice what they do offer.

This is a serious problem, especially when you live in certain neighborhoods. And I’m complaining as part of the so called gentrified populous of the area (though before it became DR Norte, has seen many different cultures come through on their way to the burbs; so I believe the concept where Wa-hi is concerned is moot). Well, if you live in other, certain areas, you’re shopping for provisions at bodegas and very low end grocery markets. Your options may be just as bleak, if not more so.

The food situation is upsetting. I bought groceries instead of eating a meal in a restaurant (which admittedly I narrowly escaped for the corny maple syrup served and my lack of Spanish speaking ability), well, to save some dough. But also, I read some stories from the Dining Around section of Best Food Writing 2007 this morning and got that bleak, dark feeling that overcomes me like a dark cloud when I read about the food dilemmas we’re faced with.

My father is French. And sometimes I crack wise, utterly inappropriately I admit, about the guillotine. But I continue to wonder nearly daily, when folks cannot afford a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, butter, eggs, fruits, veggs,—the foundation of a good days prandium—whose heads will roll?

Blatant material plug..

Ok, Daily Prandium receives no direct funding whatsoever. But I love L.L. Bean and because I continue to have material consumption habits, if you are of the carbon-ownership & responsibility set, these totes are kind of neat. But don’t fool yourself. The paper versus plastic versus canvas versus recycled material is one very small, itty bitty, teeny weeny answer to fix our pebble.

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