Can I Really Break Up with the Grocery Store ?

At the grocery store yesterday, i was doing my bi -weekly shop when I felt my shoulders go up toward my ears, my teeth start to clench, and a rise in my blood pressure indicated by a tension band around my forehead. I haul my mask down several times, in empty aisles, in an effort to breathe more normally I get to the checkout and I babble incessantly and nervously as a first time shoplifter ( I imagine this is what the clerk is thinking anyway) as I hurry to pack my groceries and get out of Dodge.

I got to the car and thought “ There had got to be a better way than this.”

And just to be clear, I am not experiencing this reaction out of fear. I believe Covid is real. I know people have lasting side effects from Covid and I know people have died from Covid. But I am not scared of getting sick. I worked in healthcare for 13 years and don’t believe I could have done that if I didn’t have faith in humanity, immunity and the world. If you are scared of getting ill, I truly truly have empathy for you. I am not selfish for not feeling fear nor am I an anti-masker, anti vaxx’er or any other label people would like to throw around at their fellow human beings to see which one makes them more comfortable. I simply am not a person who operates from a place of fear. (And so we are clear, I have experienced significant traumas both physically, and psychological during my life, which I have had to overcome, which I’m sure has played a role in my faith.)

No, I feel this way because I feed off others energy. And there is a whole lot of negative energy at the grocery store.

To be fair, some people were stressed grocery shopping before Covid. I get that I was probably part of the 5% of people that enjoy meal planning . But stress wears you and your immune system down. So how can I stay strong ?

It bothers me immensely to not see people’s smiles and awkward body language as we navigate these protocols. After a year, I find my feelings toward grocery shopping have become something I wish to overcome one way or another. Since I only go 2-3 times a month for my big shop, surely I can just work through this right? And since these humans I live with are determined to keep eating 5 meals a day plus snacks, we need to find our way through the changes I am seeing or give up grocery shopping.

What would that even look like ?

First, I am determined to grow as much as I can this year. I always had fed my family homegrown food but the last five years I have grown a garden like there is no Plan B. So if the carrots don’t work out? Too bad, we will need to eat something else then or replant, and replant again. Now, as I move from the space of smaller children, and working full time, to teenagers who literally hate to hear me breathe ( the joy of grandkids balances this awkward time and I highly recommend), I find I have the headspace for taking on a more heartier adventures in our food security.

Already, we raise pigs, turkeys, meat chickens, lamb, eggs, dairy, sometimes beef, and a huge vegetable garden which we( mostly I ) can and preserve.

Turmeric, ginger, mushrooms and sweet potatoes are all things I use in my kitchen a lot so expanding to grow them ourselves seems logical. I’m getting the spores for the mushrooms from DTC, and looking for the rhizome root (which spread so it’s important to grow in a container) for turmeric and ginger. Sweet potatoes have been grown successfully in our zone (6a, as we have a very mild winter on the southwest tip of Nova Scotia), so I will be visiting with my garden gurus about those shortly.

Second, I’ve got to be realistic. We grow our own meat, vegetables and herbs and use bacon fat for some frying, homemade butter and rendered lard for baking however we do use avacado and olive oil which I can’t even begin to source locally. I use Speerville for flour, oats, salt, organic cane sugar, some other spices, some hard cheeses and maple syrup. But sometimes we are between orders and I have had to just buy it at the store. We have great local smaller stores to help so it doesn’t need to be a bigger store experience.

Also, while homemade Mayo is easy and doable, homemade ketchup is one everyone here is a hard “NO” on. Which is fine. Until it’s not, and we will adapt. Other staples I’m still buying :toilet paper, dog food, cat food, cream cheese, organic tortilla chips, chocolate chips, brown sugar, cornstarch, tea, coconut, soy sauce, pepper etc and “treats”.

Third, with growing kids in the house, we eat 3 good meals a day, however, LORD, do they love snacks. Which I try to make a lot of from scratch and keep well stocked but I get some, let’s say, “feedback “on my idea of snacks. Each grocery trip they get one food of their choice. They pick things like Mr noodles, hot dogs, pizza pockets….it’s twice a month so we all can live with it.

Anyway, I can live without some of these things easily and others not so much but I would find substitutes if we had to. I already substitute honey and maple syrup for lot of sweetener, and with some bee hives going in this year, it crosses another item off the grocery list.

And then we have personal care: soaps and shampoo I can make, other feminine hygiene products are more difficult to manage, and I have made changes already to be more sustainable. But let’s be clear: no one in this house is going to wear homemade tampons.

Back to the question: Can I break up with the grocery store? The answer is No. I am not going to be able to do that yet and maybe not ever. While we grow 80% of what we eat here, the other 20% is pantry staples and treats, they still make our food more palatable and speak more to our soul and fellowship in our family. In other words, it’s about quality of life.

I know there are people who do it, and I admire their pioneer spirit, and ethics around a low financial footprint.

I am not going to be giving up the store but in order to manage the current conditions the world finds itself, I’m limiting my trips to two times a month. And I will make a list to make sure I’m in and out as fast as possible. It isn’t going to break me, but I feel what I feel and will try to control what I can. Putting this routine in place ensures my energy stays positive for those who need it most, and boosts my immune system to help keep me well.

And isn’t that what we all want for each other?

Love Jenn xx

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