Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Urban Locavore: But where do you buy groceries?

Guest blogging on CincinnatiLocavore today is Brianne Fahey, who lives downtown and blogs at LiveGreenCincinnati about green building, energy efficiency, and environmental lifestyles in the Greater Cincinnati area.

Downtown Cincinnati has been a great place to work for years. Over the past decade a revitalizing Cincinnati has started trending toward becoming a real livable new urbanist neighborhood. New residential developments have increased the population in both the Central Business District and Over the Rhine. When I tell people that I live downtown, the number one question I am asked is “But where do you buy groceries?”

My answer? The same way people in Cincinnati bought groceries 100 years ago.

During the week when I am in a bit more of a rush, I stop on Court Street at lunch to visit the butcher store for a fresh cut of something tasty and hit the bakery for some rolls or a baguette. I buy fresh and stop regularly because I can only carry one small bag home with me on foot before I have to get back to my office. After work, if the corner store on my block is still open, I can stop in for some cereal and toilet paper. If I’m feeling under the weather, I can walk an extra 2 blocks to the pharmacist.

On the weekends I have time to walk or take my bicycle up to the local farmers' market where there is a lot more to choose from. I can meal-plan for the week and stay on budget when I buy just enough from each vendor. Once my backpack is full, I’m finished shopping and I can say hi to the neighbors and enjoy some fresh air on my 10-minute trek home.

When I learned to adapt to my neighborhood and rely on the local businesses for my needs, I became a member of the community. As a side effect, I also became a locavore, an urbanist, an alternative transportation advocate, a budgeter, and an avid walker. I’m healthier, less-stressed, within my budget, and enjoying knowing my neighbors.


Heather said...

I always thought it would be fun (but expensive) to live in NYC for this very reason. All those episodes of Seinfeld got to me and I wished I had a little corner market to stop at.

I live in Pleasant Ridge and the "market" we had closed right before I bought my house. I previously was in Mt Lookout - but the market there leaves a lot to be desired (in selection and hours of operation).

Nice read...thanks!

VisuaLingual said...

It's not even like shopping 100 years ago; it's just urban shopping. Plenty of people in larger cities live like this. The food may be more expensive, but you're paying for the convenience and time savings of not having to make a car trip to a large grocery store, and that also saves you money. I agree, too, that shopping in your neighborhood really helps to make you a member of a community, as you get to know local business owners and area farmers.

ekalb said...

Lived off/near Liberty Street for over 18 years now. I shop like everyone else in the suburbs except I have many more choices. There are 5 Krogers within a ten minute drive. Most of them less distance than suburbanites drive to their local stores without the traffic hassle. But best of all Findlay Market offers produce at far better prices than can be found in Kroger isles. I have seen Green Peppers priced at $3 at piece at Krogers. I purchase them for $1 or much less at Findlay. I lived in Indianapolis for two years and they have a grocery downtown. Most of my neighbors still got in their car and drove to suburban groceries because they only shopped every few weeks and wanted lower prices. Any suburbanite that moves downtown will do the same. True Urbanites are the only ones that need a store downtown. Hopefully Tesco will come to the midwest. Kroger does not know how to do Urban stores.

Cin Twin1 said...

I live on 4th street downtown, and when people ask where do I buy my groceries, my response is "the same place you probably do!" I do one big shopping day on the weekend to Biggs in Hyde Park and Findley Market, and then hitup the downtown markets, walgreens, bakeries during the week to get items I forgot or things we ran out of.

Anonymous said...

It is how people shopped a hundred years ago, at least those that lived in cities. There is only a trace of the options left, but hopefully that will change. It may not if a supermarket locates here and creates to much competition.

The common misconception is that because there is no mega grocery store that there is a food desert. This post does a great job at explaining the joy of shopping at places other than a supermarket.

This kind of experience is what makes living, and shopping, in a city fun and different from the "convenience" of the 'burbs.

When people go to other cities and stumble on markets and little specialty shops it is great, but they seem to fail to see it when it is under their noses.

Jason said...

This is such a great post! Good work! I just recently moved downtown to OTR and I've begun learning how to stop making trips to Kroger's or Biggs and instead have been shopping at Findlay Market or Avril-Bleh on Court Street. Its great because both places are close enough I can either walk or ride my bike. For all of the reasons mentioned in the article its been working really well so far. I love it!

vudutu said...

Most of what we buy comes from Findlay, every Saturday morning I go through the fridge, clean out, find out what we need to use up and what we need, then we talk recipes, make a list and go to Findlay. This is a big time saver. We come home laden with three big bags. In season we go to the local farmers first, the stalls next. What we buy comes from as about as local a source (distributor?) as I can find without driving all over the tri-state and is as raw, i.e. as little processing as possible.
Trader Joes is the next stop, about twice a month, fruit juice, nuts, dips, chips, we like their shampoo, dog biscuits, coffee, soy butter. We don't eat a lot of bread and I got tired of throwing it in the compost pile so what we do is buy Rudis burger buns and Ezikiel bread for my lady at Trader Joes and Shadaus whole wheat, from them directly, this way I can get it sliced. Then we freeze it, when you need a couple of buns or slices just chuck it in the toaster, lasts a couple to three weeks for us this way. Next is Big Lots for paper goods and as much as I try to resist, the plastic goods, cleaning stuff, aluminum foil, Hellmans mayo, ketchup, etc. If we cant find it there we hit Krogers.