Recently, I’ve begun to shop at Aldi. I’ve gone from full-time to part-time work, and a quick glance at our finances reveals an inordinate amount of our earnings goes toward groceries. For those who are unfamiliar, Aldi is a discount chain. You must pay in cash. You bag your own. There are no bells and whistles, but produce typically costs about half what it does at Kroger or Publix.
Admittedly, there are some things I continue to buy elsewhere, but by-and-large the quality is on par with that of other stores. The main thing you trade for the bargains is choice. Produce tends to be limited to what’s in season. Boxed and canned goods are often only available in the store brand.
When I was a girl in Florida, my mother shopped at Tuthill’s, a family owned grocery store down the street. I sat in the front of the cart, munching on animal crackers, while she chose from about the same number of goods as are held in Aldi’s five aisles. I don’t remember when grocery shopping came to be such a mega experience.
In 1998, I worked on a committee at the Methodist Church I attended at that time to sponsor a refugee family from Kosovo. We introduced them to many facets of American life, but the biggest impression was their first visit to a grocery store. They wanted to touch every item on the shelf. It took three hours to get through. They had never seen so much food in one place. Give us our daily bread.
I’m thankful. I like variety, especially of the ethnic kind. But may we remain aware of the difference between sustenance and bounty. We are clearly surrounded by the latter.