Sep 092011

Christy Lorio (photo by Leslie Almeida)

OK, I’ll admit it. When it comes to groceries, all bets are off. The one thing that my husband and I splurge on every week is food. We don’t dump out the contents of our wallets at expensive department stores, we don’t drive fancy cars, and I can’t tell you the last time I was in a casino, but damn can we get busy in the grocery store. Taleggio cheese? Check. Ice cream made from goat milk? Oh, yeah, now you’re talking.

Now, my husband and I are what some people would call DINKS (dual income, no kids) which makes us sound way more yuppie than our heavily tattooed limbs indicate. I guess in some ways we are that couple, since we occasionally have a house cleaner and we are perfectly OK with paying $11 for a cocktail that was lovingly concocted at one of the top-ranked bars in the nation on the weekends, but hell, that doesn’t mean we have a disposable income for exotic fruits that we can barely pronounce.

After Katrina we lived in Scottsdale, a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, and a plethora of food options were at our disposal — which was ironic considering we lived in the desert. We participated in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that delivered fresh-from-the-farm produce to our doorstep each week and we relied heavily on Trader Joe’s and a local organic grocery store to stock our fridge. Since we’ve been back in New Orleans for three years most of our money has gone to Whole Foods, primarily because of convenience. Look, I love the idea of casually strolling around the farmer’s market on a lazy Saturday afternoon, but considering I work two jobs the thought of waking up early on my one day off to fight other pseudo-yuppies for some swiss chard doesn’t appeal to me. Call me a bad person, hell even stupid, but I’d rather pay a little bit more for the convenience factor. It does make me feel a tinge of guilt since I’d much rather directly support my local farmers, but I suppose it is better than handing my money over to Monsanto. Or perhaps I should really go guerrilla gardener style and plant my own food, which is a good idea in theory, but I can barely keep my tiny patch of front yard grass alive much less harvest a week’s worth of tomatoes.

I guess my real point is no matter how we can help contribute, just do it in any way you can. If that means buying the local products from the national chain store so be it. Raise your own chickens, buy your grass-fed, organic, massaged-three-times-a-day-before-slaughter beef from the upscale grocer — do whatever it takes, but taking a more vested interest in learning where your food comes from is important. While my cart of organic produce might seem superfluous and I definitely feel a touch of shame for spending so much, I’d like to think it is an investment in my health. At least that is what I tell myself when I whip out my debit card and enjoy that 30-cent refund for bringing my own reusable tote bags.

Christy Lorio, a native New Orleanian, writes on fashion at and is also a freelance writer whose work has been featured online and in print magazines both locally and nationally.

  One Response to “Christy Lorio: Guilt in the grocery aisle”

  1. Don’t feel shameful about spending on food — on a per capita basis, Americans spend much less on feeding themselves than any other developed nation (thanks in large part to undocumented labor).

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