I swore I wouldn’t do it. I promised myself I would shop anywhere else before stooping so low. But I couldn’t help myself. Yesterday, I bought my groceries at Walmart and now I feel cheap and dirty. And yet, also bizarrely satisfied with the deal I got.
I want to be a good citizen and part of that, in my opinion, is shopping local as much as possible. Walmart is notorious for destroying local chains and I don’t like their handling of music distribution – often requiring artists censor their work in order to sell through what was the largest retailer of physical CDs in the US two years ago. When I dropped that first tupperware of pre-cut melon into my cart I knew that I may as well have walked up to my local grocer and kicked him in the shins. I’m not usually one for shin kicking, so this made me very uncomfortable.
At the same time, I realized, I’m broke. I’d have to sell a kidney and possibly my first-born child in order to buy the same amount of groceries I got at my local store. No offense to the Turnip Truck. I love their prepared food and they have awesome healthy, organic options; but Walmart sells brand-name vegan chick’n nuggets for $2 a box! That’s three meals, for two bucks. You know what I got for two bucks at the Turnip Truck? An power bar. An ORGANIC power bar, though, loaded with “super foods” that I’m sure in six months the same hippies who are now hawking them will be swearing cause cancer. So, you know, it’s totally worth an arm and a leg. For health. Well, not medically supported or scientifically backed health, but health, you know?
I’m sorry. I’m lashing out to deal with my own feelings of self-loathing. This is just sort of a low point for me. It’s stepping away from my own morals and high standards and feeding the giant corporate machine that I’m not so sweet on. I’d like to think that I have some kind of honor, but I’d rather eat $0.88 egg noodles than shell out $3 more for the same brand at Whole Foods, even if that $3 is to assure that they’re not loaded with lead and made with slave labor.
Even Trader Joe’s… For a long while, I considered them the cheapest grocery in Nashville, and they are pretty damn cheap while still providing really quality food. But when I went the other week to buy herbs and seasoning I found they only sold like six spices. Yet they had a whole section, floor-to-top of shelving, devoted to hawking six spices. Pepper, cinnamon, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, basil. Over and over again. It felt like I had accidentally stumbled into a movie set. This wasn’t a real grocery store, it was just supposed to look like a grocery store. There were scenes like that all over the place, in every aisle. The same two cases of beer alternating for four shelving units. Maybe it was designed by aliens to study human behavior. It was bizarre. Not only did Walmart have more than six spices, they had brands I recognized for a ridiculously low price in comparison to Kroger or Publix.
There, I’m justifying again. I feel dirty, though. And yet also sort of… naughty? It was scintillating, at that self-check out. When I rang up that store brand pepperoni a little thrill ran down my spine. $0.97 for all those mini pepperonis. It almost felt like shoplifting. I couldn’t help but feel excited at the prospect of delicious but economical pizza muffins.
As I was leaving, I tried to promise myself I wouldn’t go back. I swore in my car it was a one-time thing. But I know that’s a lie. Trader Joe’s is so far! And I eat a lot of fruit. And it’s only just out on Gallatin Road. It’s time to be honest with myself; I’m going dark side. I shopped at Walmart, I felt dirty, and I liked it.