Sunday, August 19, 2007

Shopping in Atlanta

Yesterday a friend and I made the trip down to Atlanta for some shopping. We started out at the Dekalb Farmers Market, and then hit Trader Joe's, Whole Foods/Harry's and Costco (with a detour in there to visit Outwrite Bookstore), and came home with a fully loaded car. The selection of local and organic food available at these places is both staggering and beautiful to behold. It's too hot at this time of year to try to drive perishables all the way home in a cooler, so, sadly, we only got to browse when it came to the meat, dairy and frozen food sections, but we did stock up on all sorts of other yummy stuff.

The contrast between the food markets in Atlanta and the groceries in Chattanooga is stark, and a source of endless frustration for me. Atlanta's metro population of 5,138,223 dwarfs the Chattanooga metro area's 658,201, but given the fact that Atlanta's population supports a large number of enormous food markets, I would think that Chattanooga could certainly manage to keep one such business afloat.

So, why has Chattanooga been shortchanged when it comes to organic and upscale food? (...and yes, I'm familiar with Greenlife and Fresh Market, but they just can't compete with Atlanta stores -- especially when it comes to their drastically lower prices -- even if you compare Chattanooga stores' mostly nonorganic, nonlocal offerings to Atlanta's vast selection of organic and local foods...) I suspect that one very large limiting factor is Tennessee's outdated and draconian blue laws, which prevent the sale of wine in grocery stores (for some incoherent reason, beer is ok, but wine, which goes so well with food, is a no-no). All of the markets we visited yesterday devote a significant amount of store real estate to wonderful (and very low-priced!) selections of wine, and having to cut those sections from their stores might be a demotivating factor when they consider opening outlets in Chattanooga.

Those of us who would like to see our state opened up to a larger variety of food shopping experiences need to press our representatives in Nashville to resist the regressive efforts of both the liquor lobby and small bands of fanatical religious zealots to place incoherent limits on the sale of liquor in this state, and instead, let Tennessee move into the 21st century.

And in the meantime, maybe we can encourage these purveyors of fine foods to open a store or two in one of the the North Georgia towns that border Chattanooga. I'd much rather see the tax revenue flowing into our state, but there's not a lot we can do when the special interests and right wing radicals are the only folks who speak up when these things come around for debate.





8 comments:

GlenH said...

God,

I miss the grocery shopping in Atlanta. If we could just avoid the traffic. Oh well!?

Do you know whatever became of the Co-OP grocery in Chattanooga. Sevenanda in Chattanooga, would be major plus+++!

regards

fletch said...

Yes I know what you mean on this topic. It's frustrating. I used to hang out in some of the grocery stores in Austin just because of the energy. They were so full of life, even had live music. Frustrating.

alice said...

Yeah! At Wholefoods/Harry's yesterday, there were a couple of guys playing some greek-sounding music. I would imagine it's a bit tiresome to the people who work there and have to listen to it all day, but for us customers, it's was a treat!



(And I never even mentioned all the samples! We were going to eat lunch out, but by the time we got past all the free samples of everything, we weren't hungry anymore -- which was a shame because it was such an incredible deli!)

alice said...

Glen, I don't know what happened to the co-op. I went to a few meetings and they sold some shares, but then it all seemed to just die on the vine...

DSK said...

On the plus side, the first Publix is slated to open next month. They may not be HEB, but they are sure to start shaking up the Chattanooga market. I suspect that will lead to more room opening up for other good stores as some of the more lousy ones die.

Paige said...

We have done that Farmer's Market/Trader Joe's/Harry's circuit a couple of times this summer. I nearly weep with joy everytime I walk in those places.

alice said...

DSK, I am SO excited about Publix coming to town! I love shopping there when I am down in the Tampa Bay area. They should shake things up in a very good way, and will be a good source of comfort as we wait for bigger and better things -- which I will still hope for, because if you've ever been to the Dekalb Farmers Market or to Wholefoods, you know that, as Paige says, it is to weep!

DSK said...

I actually emailed Publix a few weeks ago and they said that the one going in at the old East Brainerd Winn Dixie is supposed to be done in September.



When I was a kid we used to go to the original building of the DeKalb Farmers Market. It was pretty much jawdropping when the opened the new (current) building. As an adult I've come to appreciate the new-agey "we can all get along because we all love food" theme. They keep chugging along with that vibe in a way that Harry's never could really duplicate.