I’m ashamed to admit that Cat’s reports of my unfortunate licorice breakfasts are accurate, but to be fair I don’t usually eat candy for breakfast. I’m not that unhealthy. Generally I just drink a pot of coffee. Maybe a croissant if I’m feeling fancy.
Okay, so breakfast is not my strong point.
But my caffeine addiction aside*, I tend to be pretty healthy. As a vegetarian you either learn how to cook for yourself healthfully or you wander around in a iron deficient haze wondering why you’re sleepy all the time. Eventually you realize that chocolate, though technically vegetarian, is not really a food group. This is when you recognize that you either learn to cook properly or starve to death. My saving grace when I reached this crux was farmer’s markets.
With glorious bushels of fresh produce, stinky cheeses, crusty bread, local honey and overpriced flowers, the local farmer’s market is my absolute favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I can gather cheap, ethical, locally grown produce to my hungover heart’s content. Arms full of greenery, I can skip the two blocks home and plan out healthy, fresh meals for the week.
There’s only one problem with this brilliant equation: I live in Chicago. Consequently, my local farmer’s market only exists in “summer”, from June to October (which is already stretching the bounds of nice weather). So what’s a veggie to do for the other 7 months of the year? Good question. I’m still working that one out.
Of course, I could just shop at regular grocery stores, but a) that’s not fun and b) their produce kinda sucks it. So usually, I venture to the all produce grocery store, but that is unfortunately far away and doesn’t sell anything but produce, leaving me to make two trips anyway. My other option is “healthier” stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Food’s. But as far as I’m concerned, “healthier” usually just means “expensive” and I just avoid such places.**
So yesterday, after returning the XXL pajama pants my mother gifted me for Christmas, I found myself in Lincoln Park and less than a block from the largest Whole Foods in the world (or maybe just Chicago, but this is a huge grocery store). Figuring that I’ve eaten nothing but sugar and butter in various forms for the last week, I shrug and wander in. This was my first mistake.
My second mistake was that after battling through the aisles of fair trade locally roasted coffee, imported organic produce, handmade all-natural soaps and cheese made from free-range rabbit milk or somesuchshit, I had a cart full of groceries that would have cost me roughly three times my monthly grocery budget…for a week’s worth of groceries. Oops. So in a moment of panic, I abandoned my cart somewhere near the un-packaged grass-fed chicken eggs, grabbed the four items I absolutely needed (and guacamole, because, you know) and ran for the checkout.
100% consumer recycled bag in hand, I searched for an exit and noticed that this monstrosity had a bar. Like a straight-up ten tap, fully stocked bar. As frazzled as I may have been by my trip to the grocery store, I managed to acknowledge that my problems are silly and head out. I also acknowledged that I probably would only hate myself more if I spent $9 on an organic beer that would likely taste like wheatgrass.
I spend my trip home pondering who are all of these people who not only have enough money to shop at this store, but are also somehow magically not working at two in the afternoon on a Tuesday. The answer still eludes me. Then, in the way that all Chicagoans do in the depths of winter, I begin planning for spring. I google “Logan square farmer’s market” hoping to revel in the hope that one day this city will not be covered in snow only to be greeted by:
“Welcome to the Logan square indoor winter farmer’s market”
Well, that solves that.
*Which for the record is a trait that Cat and I inherited from our Paternal side.
** I realize these are all really bourgeois problems, but I work from home and I’m on break from school, so I have too much time to think about crap like where I’m going to buy more grapefruit.