Sunday, December 27, 2009

Both ends of the Spectrum

Today was another first for me. I checked out Whole Foods Market. There isn't one near me so it was a trip up to the Twin Cities to find it. It is in the Summit-Grand Avenue area of St. Paul. This is the shi-shi area of St. Paul. Lots of money but trying to be hip and not look like we have money kind of place. Not like rich people in Beverly Hills kind of look-maybe like SoHo or the Tribecca area on NY. Lots of Audi's, Mercedes and Volvo's. My lowly Caddy barely fit in. But it is filled with beautiful old houses that have been restored to how they looked back at the turn of the century when many of them were built. When we moved to St. Paul in 1971 my parents could have bought a 3000 plus square foot house in that area for what they spent on our 1000 square foot house on the East side. It was not good neighborhood back then. It was home to drug dealers, shady dealings and the like. Sometime towards the end of the 70's people started moving in and cleaning it up and now you wouldn't be able to touch a small house for under probably $400,000.00. The houses shown at the bottom of this post would probably fall into the $600 to 800 thousand price range. And while I drooled over the 2 and 3 story beauties with original hardwood floors, banisters and built ins, I would not want the heating or cooling bills and most importantly-the property taxes. My BFF used to work for several lawyers and one lived on Summit. She had the most spectacular home. 3 stories, kitchen remodeled to professional grade, butlers pantry, HUGE formal dining and living areas, 6 bedrooms, 4 baths. The BFF would take me with each year to this lawyer's home for her Christmas party. Wow. That is all I can say. The party was catered with servers bringing you all the food and drink you wanted and it was decorated to the nines. But my friend also had to take care of personal business for the lawyers and 23 years ago the taxes were triple what we pay now for our home. I can only imagine them now. But the houses-ahhh, if I won the lottery, I might take a serious look!

What does this have to do with my post? Not much, except that this is where the WF Market was and after doing some shopping there, we meandered a few blocks east and looked at some stores and had some lunch. My impression of WF wasn't as great as I was expecting. I know lots of bloggers I follow love this store, but a lot of the brands they carry I can find in my big chain grocery store in their Organic food aisles. I did pick up some fresh baked Italian bread for some panini's this week, and I tried some grass-only fed ground beef. The web site says that the animals are treated humanely and processed with a measure of compassion. I'm not sure if that means they apologize to the animal before they, well, you know. Honestly the meat I get at our local butcher meets or exceeds that. They buy their cows and pigs from the local farmers and are processed on site so it is always fresh-and about half the price of WF. I know that is because of the middle man, but I would rather run 5 miles up the country road and get my fresh burger and bacon then have to drive 31 miles and pay double. I also know how they treat the animals as a family member worked there for 6 years-it isn't like the big slaughter houses. I also got my daughter some organic milk. She had tried it at the State Fair a couple of years ago and really liked it. Side note-she has been home a week and we have gone through 6 GALLONS OF MILK!! We also picked up a wheel of Brie cheese, some organic chips I like and some gravy. I know, I know-I'm suppose to make my own, but a lot of time I don't have time, don't feel like it or don't have drippings to do so. I found an organic brand at my local grocery store and they had it there on sale, so picked up a few for my hubby (I hate gravy). I think I will stick to my local store.

After picking up the groceries, we stopped to have lunch on Grand Avenue. There are lots of fun places, but Hermit Crab wanted only one thing-Chipotle. They don't have one in College Town. So we watched the fake blond women in their Mercedes park in a no parking zone to run into Starbucks and get their half caf, no foam soy latte. I really have no idea since I drink Folger's if I drink coffee and have never been in a Starbucks. But I have heard these terms on TV. After lunch we went into Pottery Barn. I love that store. The one at the Mall of America closed several years ago and it bummed me out. I could always find something fun that wasn't an arm and a leg. This store was cute, but small so it didn't have as much as the MOA store did. I did fall in love with a wooden rectangle farm table. At $1500 it was way out of my league. But it would have made me a happy camper. We also stopped at this store below, Cooks of Crocus Hill.
I buzzed through fast as I know my daughter doesn't share the thrill of pots and pans and servingware as I do. I did pick up a cute little bowl that is a butter yellow color. You know it had to come home with me!

The other end of the spectrum, you might be wondering what that is. We stopped at Aldi's on our way home to see what that hype was all about. Didn't impress me either. The milk was a little cheaper than at my regular store, but our grocery store puts it on sale every other week even cheaper than at Aldi's. The fruit snack were maybe a quarter cheaper, but when they go on sale and there is a coupon, still a better deal at my regular store. I did find that the potatoes were cheaper and the salad dressing was cheaper-but I have no idea if it is any good. It may not have been a deal if I don't like what it tastes like.

Bottom line-I'm sticking with my regular grocery store and my butcher.

Here are a couple of houses on Summit. My daughter was poo-pooing my request for her to take pictures while I pulled the car out so she could get in. She took 3 begrudgingly.

The one below was the one she wanted to live in

Living in the big city isn't for me anymore. Our roads get plowed much better than this! Plus there is little traffic, less crime and I don't have people taking pictures of my little home :)
Please know that I'm not picking on Whole Foods or anyone's choice to shop there. It just wasn't a good fit for me. Living in the middle of the country we are not as lucky as some to have fresh food markets offered to us year round-all of our stuff is shipped in other than summer at farmer's markets, so I have always had to shop at the big stores as that is all we have. We also have a nice food co-op in our town that is styled somewhat like a WF, but is quite small and doesn't have a bakery or meat counter but I have been able to find some things there that I can't find at regular grocery stores.


A Year on the Grill said...

last sentence... funny comment.

I buy staples at Aldi, but their meat and especially their vegetables are not worth the lower prices.

Sounds lie you need to invite all them fancy city folks to come visit your country store... better quality, fresher and when you shop right, prices are just fine!

well written post

Tia said...

wow... beautiful stores & houses! i could spend all day there!

Monica H said...

ha ha! That last sentence cracked me up. I love driving through fancy neighborhoods and looking at all the houses.

At least you know your own grocery store and butcher are better- ai'm sure that saves you money.

BTW, Whole Foods meat didn't impress me much either.

buffalodick said...

As an ex traveling salesman- I know where all the good stuff is! No one market carries the best of everything! I go to four different meat markets for various sausages! We have a Whole Foods store in an upscale part of town and have yet to go there..

Lea Ann said...

Love that last sentencce. :-) I love Whole Foods. I agree some of the products also appear on the organic isle of Safeway, but prices are the same unless Safeway runs a sale. Whole Foods purchase alot of products from local food purveyors. Organic sauces, hummus, bakery items. I really like that they support the small guys. Their cheese department is also out of this world. Our local butcher is more expensive than Whole Foods - darnit. I've always told my husband I won't live anywhere where there isn't a Whole Foods. Great post.

Bob said...

I love WF, but mostly for their veggies/meats/baked goods. Not that I ever get to shop there, there isn't one near me either.

Debbie said...

Enjoyed your post! Love that house. I could get lost in there. Aldi's here in Woodbridge, Va is so much cheaper than any grocery store. My only gripe is that their products are limited and they don't carry enough of them!!! But most of their products are half the price of Safeway or Giant and my grocery bill is half of what it would normally be elsewhere!

Foodycat said...

I love that last house! A Whole Foods opened in London a year or so ago, but I haven't been in. I have an organic veg box delivered to my door, and a couple of good meat suppliers, so I don't really see the point either!