JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2

The choices we make every day

May 9th, 2005 · 2 Comments


When Bainbridge Beat recently asked islanders which choices define them, starting with the two local grocery stores in the post T&C or Safeway? a number of passionate responses followed in the comments. T&C is Town and Country, a grocery store located close to the ferry terminal downtown. Last time I heard, the store was owned by two island families, one of whom suffered during the WWII evacuation and internment of residents of Japanese descent (please correct me if I am wrong). T&C, from my perspective, has a larger range of organic and local goods and better quality fresh produce and meat, but the prices are higher. Safeway is an international chain based in California which offers better deals on some products; however the principle you get what you pay for applies. Here’s an example: if I am looking for salmon, I could buy it at Safeway, where it is usually farm-raised and injected with color, but less than $10 or I could buy it at T&C where it is wild but more than $10 a pound. Bananas are green but cheap at Safeway, edible but higher priced at T&C.

I don’t like to think of myself as defined by choices, although marketers believe identity comes from purchases. I don’t live by labels or think of myself as a _____shopper. Being thrifty, wise and efficient matters more to me as a definition of myself then what is written on the bag I bring home from the store.

When possible I do try to shop on the island and I try to frequent locally-owned stores. I like having the possibility here and I want to encourage island merchants. But sometimes the prices are too high, especially for larger items or occasional purchases, options are limited, and I feel justified shopping elsewhere. Sears is a better place to buy washing machines than Schmidt’s, for example.

T&C gives the girls stickers and has a friendlier feel, as a local store, yet it is a practical decision. If I need to go shopping during dance lessons, which is often convenient, I go to Safeway. If I want to combine groceries with other stops downtown, I go to T&C. Central Market in Poulsbo is my favorite one, but that requires an extra 20 minute drive each way I can’t often afford.

For a family of five living on one income, economics counts. Then again I am trying to purchase less processed food and more raw items raised in an organic way, so I do buy meat and vegetables at T&C. Eggs I’ll try to buy at T&C because the price is great and the chickens are treated well. Canned tomatoes I’ll get at Safeway, generic brand. Lunchmeat is a better deal at Safeway. Right now T&C has great prices on organic apples, an item we eat every day, so I’ve been stocking our fridge.

Of course, grocery store shopping is one of many choices I make every day. I often wonder about those choices, the implications and lasting effects of decisions I make, sometimes at the end of a busy day while our stomachs are rumbling and the clock is ticking. How many people am I impacting with my scribbled list, loaded cart and credit card? For example, I buy recycled paper products when possible even though they tend to be less attractive than other ones. I hope though that the higher price I am paying translates into savings for others, not just my family. At the same time, I do need to consider saving for my family; we have limited resources and a penny saved is a penny saved. Does it make a difference what I pick, one shopper out of millions in America? If I forget my canvas bags, does it matter if we take paper ones or plastic home? What is more important, saving money for my family or trying to save materials for our community? Or saving time, which is my most precious commodity?

When possible I try to buy consignment or organic. I try to recycle and do what is natural. It’s not a perfect world and there aren’t easy answers. I try to make the best decision I can.

Photo above: purple artichokes that caught my eye at T & C.

Thanks to Bainbridge Beat for the great posts!

Tags: Uncategorized

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Patricia Taylor // May 9, 2005 at 7:54 pm

    You certainly struck a major chord with me, Julie. While William and I are only two, and money is not a prime object for us at this time in our lives, I do recycle EVERYTHING which our community accepts, and I do look at labels both for price and contents. Organic is preferred (Whole Foods Market, the winner almost everytime on that here), but it is farther away. I can understand, with the current price of gas, that ecololically-minded choices involve more than one category of decision. Quality/price/availablity/distance/ versus time…and you are right, time is the one thing we are not sure of having more of this side of heaven!

    Lots of love and sincere appreciaion for who you are, in Him, for your family, and as a friend, as well as an excellent writer.

  • 2 Patricia Taylor // May 9, 2005 at 7:59 pm

    Please forgive all of the typos in my previous comment. I was writing in the dark, and fatigue has set in big time! Sigh. Isn’t forgiveness one of God’s greatest gifts?!

Leave a Comment