Jumping on my soapbox… Let me just say, “What’s the deal with grocery stores and New Orleans?” I know that on every corner there is a place to get food. Sometimes the place is fancy, sometimes it’s a dive; and other times you just aren’t sure what it is, but it works because it’s New Orleans.
During weekends of Soul School, I found myself in a grocery dilemma.
Where can I go? What’s open? How far is it?
I have a feeling locals run through these questions in their heads so quickly that they forget they are asking them.
Each Sunday during Soul School, we had a satsang and potluck. Side note, why are potlucks so incredible, and why am I not invited to more of them? Will work on changing that! Also, invite me to your potluck. I’ll make something delicious or just bring some Hail Merry pies. I digress.
So, my first weekend, I didn’t really need to purchase food because my host graciously roasted vegetables for me. With the potluck dinner fast approaching, I picked up some hot chocolate and vegan marshmallows from the “economical” Whole Foods on Broad. Yes, I brought hot chocolate to a potluck. I’m classy like that.
The next weekend I needed more food because Kathleen was with me and in an effort to not buy all our meals at Lost Love and the Co-op, we set out in search of a grocery store. Now, the only options I knew about were the Co-op, Whole Foods and the Rouses across town…but thank you Google for showing me that there was another Rouses not too far from Tupelo St.
Now, I must admit my spoiled grocery attitude is very much a Baton Rouge thing. We take for granted the plethora of options. There are stores everywhere. In all actuality, we purposely selected our townhouse because of its location to I10 and I12. This is what people do when they commute to work and part of that commute means quality time in Baton Rouge traffic. So, near us (within 5 miles) there are approximately 3 full service grocery stores, 2 of which we can walk to if we so choose – to risk our lives in Baton Rouge traffic because of the streets necessary for crossing to access the store, but nonetheless, need be we can walk. Back to Nola…
So, we headed to Rouses and paid way too much for blueberries and other economical food items. Ranking in close to $100 bucks, I started to rethink my plan for how much food the moolah could have gotten us at Lost Love or the Co-op.
Is this why people eat out in Nola? I was so confused one Saturday as I returned to my host’s home. I walked in with 2 full bags from the “economical” Whole Foods and asked, “Why are the stores so all-over-the-place and inaccessible in this area of town?”
I mean, it seemed like every corner store held the “necessities”: milk, bread, meat, liquor, and the obligatory basket of over ripe fruit near the register. But what if you want greens or a gluten free frozen pizza, where do you go?
I know this seems a bit overboard because in the grand scheme of things, there’s food everywhere in New Orleans. But I definitely believe on a level of community health, there must be a better distribution of fruits, vegetables and special diet foods.
This same argument is taking place in Baton Rouge, and with great strides, food options are being made more readily available; and we are seeing change. Community gardens contribute as well.
In the 9th Ward you have young people becoming beekeepers and making a sustainable wage from the harvest of honey. Changes like this impact the neighborhood and ripple through the community.
I must add too that St. Roch Market is now open–contributing to food options in the Bywater. However, I am not sure of the price point or accessibility to the community.
Nola, I love you but it’s difficult for me to cook for you. How about you keep cooking for me? Otherwise, let me know when you’re fixin’ to make groceries!