It’s Not About the Bok Choy
April 30th, 2010 by Christina

Of all the challenges that working full time has thrown my way, I am most plagued by the getting of groceries—where to get them, when to get them, and how to get them into my home from wherever they originate.

For almost a decade, I’ve been a member of a fabulous food co-op. The prices are amazing, the produce is amazing–but the amount of time, effort and psychic distress involved in membership is also, well, amazing. In order to reap the financial and health rewards the co-op offers, you pay in other ways. You have to work there for 2 hours and 45 minutes every four weeks; if you’re me, you have to figure out how to get there now that you rarely have use of a car, because the co-op is over a mile away. And the process of shopping can take hours, especially if the checkout person is new and doesn’t know her celeriac from her lacinato kale.

When I was a freelancer, I shopped at off-hours and it was manageable, but now that I work full time, it’s impossible to continue as a co-op member. Letting go is not easy. There’s a cult-like quality to belonging that makes it hard to leave the fold. I feel like an Amish teenager in rumspringa. But it had to happen. I had to leave, to experience food shopping as most of the country does.

As with any loss, the first phase was denial–which manifested itself in me as an inability to shop anywhere. I found it hard to buy food, period. I felt dirty shopping at a regular supermarket, with its clogging trans fats, its cheap-whore-like red delicious apples, its plethora of plastic bags. Where was the bok choy—the beautiful bouncing baby bok choy like they have at the co-op?  Even worse, the supermarket has the exact same feta cheese we got at the co-op, only it costs two dollars more. Two. Dollars. More.

I decided that the girls and I would forego food completely. I mean, really, it’s such a time suck—the shopping, the cooking, the endless chewing and digesting. Couldn’t we just consume very nutritious shakes and vitamins and leave it at that? I was annoyed every time the girls asked me for a snack. “Well, there’s that sprouting potato on the counter, or–hello–what about the mulberry tree out back? Anyway, do you really need to keep eating, again and again and again? It’s so common. Get over it.”

Supported by takeout, I moved through that phase and, for a few weeks, I was able to shop at the supermarket, though only in an aggressive co-op backlash mode. When I came home with Reese’s Puffs cereal and Tostitos, the girls were thrilled, though clearly worried about me. Eventually, even they confessed to missing the healthy, wheaty, crunchy stuff.

During this difficult time, ads for Fresh Direct seemed to lurk everywhere, promising to deliver freakishly photogenic foodstuffs right to my door. Naturally, I was suspicious. It seemed too good to be true.

And then, last week, it all came to a head. The potato on the countertop was growing branches worthy of a treehouse. The ancient capers in the side of the fridge door seemed like viable dinner fixins. Finally, I caved and placed an order online with FD. And it was a revelation–no lines, no car, no store to think about!  If I have to live on supermarket food, this is the way to do it. I can shop online whenever I want and the food is brought to my door–in 100% recycled boxes, no less, which almost makes up for the lack of exotic vegetables.

Yesterday, our second Fresh Direct order arrived, just as we were finishing up a legitimate dinner whipped up with ingredients from the first one. When I saw the delivery guy at the door, it was as though Prince Charming had arrived on his horse (or in this case, a white refrigerated truck).

My daughter, noticing my glee, said, “ChillMom. It’s not Santa Claus.”

Oh, but for a single mother who works full time, it is. It is!

(Fyi, I was not paid by Fresh Direct or anyone else to write this.)

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4 Responses  
Barbara T writes:
April 30th, 2010 at 6:41 am

Hey Christina,
Hope the new job is going well. We need to have lunch soon. Welcome to the world of Fresh Direct. As I was reading this, before I got to the end, I was thinking, Why doesn’t she just use Fresh Direct? I’ve been shopping with them for years, pretty much since their beginning. Santa? Nope, I consider them my savior! Now, if I ever have to go to the market for a last-minute thing, I get very annoyed waiting in line–of course there’s always some delay at checkout. FD offers good quality, the prices are often better than Manhattan market prices, and they have ironed out most of their kinks so they rarely make a mistake these days. I can shop FD in 10 minutes with my saved lists. If you plan to get delivery at least once a week, the yearly delivery fee is well worth it. Again, welcome to the new world!

Elizabeth writes:
May 3rd, 2010 at 7:38 am

There are times, like this morning, when we are lacking breakfast food of any type, and Brigit got brown rice for breakfast, that I really wish I had a delivery grocery thing! It is where I have the hardest time finding the time to do! Love to you!

Yogurt Mountbatten writes:
May 3rd, 2010 at 11:14 am

Delightful post. (I think they deliver to the North Pole too.)

Heather Johnson Durocher writes:
May 10th, 2010 at 9:08 am

Great post, Christina! Wishing we had Fresh Direct here in northern Michigan. I think the closest thing would be CSAs (community supported agriculture), though there’s no delivery to your front door, unfortunately. I’ve been contemplating joining a food co-op for awhile now. Thanks for inspiring me – really want to be more consistent about ensuring healthy eating for my family.

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