Why You Should Shop at Ethnic Grocery Stores

This post was originally published on Jan. 10, 2013, and we’re re-posting for Food Month.

I’m here to convince you to shop at your local ethnic grocery stores.

I live in Philadelphia. The map above of where people of different ethnicities live in Philadelphia has red dots for whites, blue dots for blacks, and yellow dots for Hispanics. In the middle of the map, there’s a place in North Philadelphia where the north-south swath of Hispanic neighborhoods tapers down to a point and mixes with the black and white neighborhoods to the west and east. And right there, there’s a locally-owned grocery store called Cousin’s. Not surprisingly, it’s a fantastic place to shop for food.

It’s made even better by the fact that there’s a fairly strong Muslim community in North Philadelphia. So: Take a full service American supermarket, add two big aisles of Mexican/Spanish produce, meats and groceries (including all manner of hot peppers, salsas, queso fresco, chorizos, octopus, salt cod, all of those different kinds of beans and cornmeal, etc.), and then add a halal meat counter, Lebanese yogurt, and a whole aisle of Middle Eastern specialties (halva, tahini, sardines in spicy oil, etc.). It’s a dream to shop there. The prices are rock bottom, the selection is amazing, and the food quality is equal to or higher than any other major, regular-priced supermarket I’ve tried.

It’s become my favorite place to grocery shop, but I’ve had a tough time convincing any of my friends to give it a shot.

Kraft and Heinz are Merging, Cutting Jobs, Making Food Cubes

Big news in "brightly colored viscous liquid foods:" Heinz is buying Kraft and, with their powers combined, are becoming Kraft Heinz.

Time to Panic About Hazelnuts

Not to worry, via my old favorite Venessa Wong at Businessweek, Nutella owns 25% of the world's supply of hazelnuts and has acquired Oltan Group, the leading supplier of hazelnuts. Nutella will be fine. They account for 70% of all U.S. sales of chocolate spreads and are, somehow, a 2.5 BILLION dollar company. That's a lot of people studying abroad and then coming home feeling really cultured because they put Nutella on their toast now. (BEEN THERE.) But it's the other guys, the little confectioners, that have to worry.

Say Goodbye To Your Little Friend (Avocado)

In a world where the sun is hot and water is scarce, survival comes down to competition.

Building a Better Pancake

Anyway, I am in denial that Thanksgiving cometh and instead would like to know whose pancake recipe you use. Your family's? Bisquick's? Smitten Kitchen? Deborah Madison? I feel like we are not living our best pancake life.

More Women Are Vegetarian But More Men Are Vegan

According to NPR, more women are vegetarian but more men are vegan. You can also read that sentence as, more women are kind-of-annoying but more men are super-annoying. (I can say that, I’m vegetarian.) (Or can I? I’m sure you’ll tell me.) Anyhoo, vegan dudes are trying to broaden our limited notions of gender and food:

[Old school green-eating men include] Bronson Alcott, a vegan and father of Louisa May Alcott, who wrote Little Women. Alcott saw his veganism as a continuation of his advocacy against slavery and for women’s rights. According to his daughter, though, Alcott never did any cooking. … 

Something hard core about veganism does seem to appeal to some men. In fact, according to a Harris Poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group, more women are vegetarian than men, but slightly more men are vegan. John Joseph of the punk band the Cro-Mags and author of a pro-vegan manifesto has rejected animal products for more than 30 years. “I come from jails and gyms where guys were eating Alpo burgers,” he says. “The dudes were like, ‘If it’s good enough for my pit bull, it’s gonna give me more strength and energy!'”

“If it’s good enough for my pit bull” is totally my new motto.

On a macro level, vegetarianism/veganism is generally considered better for the planet. On a micro level, it’s better for your bank account: LearnVest did a test and concluded that veganism is the cheapest diet. A vegan might save $3.50 a day over a meat eater.

When Your Paycheck Is What Keeps You From Achieving Your Goals

The people Hull profiles want to get better jobs, or better-paying jobs, but they also want to do their Hardee's jobs well. They have plans and goals for their lives, like having a wedding by a lake or saving enough money to move to a city that might have more job opportunities. The thing that consistently gets in the way is Hardee's low wages. That is the mitigating factor on their dreams.

How Do You Do Groceries?

When I was fresh out of college, back in the days where we still thought email was a substitute for letter-writing instead of a method of assigning and confirming responsibilities, I wrote a friend a long email letter about my low-paying telemarketing job and the realization that grocery shopping was my only form of discretionary spending.

(Later, when I watched The Office, I got to the part where Ryan Howard says “Now that I’m back to doing the job of a temp, again, I find that food is one thing I can control,” and laughed uncomfortably.)

So I used to spend more time in the grocery store, looking at everything and thinking about what I could buy.

Our Health Food Obsession

David Sax has an op-ed in The Los Angeles Time which discusses how we have a tendency to spend so much of our money on health food trends (because we want to eat the things we are told are good for us), but most of those trends end up being debunked: