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A foodified quandary

A Walmart avocado

When I lived in San Francisco, shopping at Walmart was unthinkable. All big box stores (or book stores) were scorned for a number of reasons, not least for what has happened to small, neighborhood merchants. But it also was easy to not shop at Walmart in San Francisco. I’d have had to drive way out into the suburbs to get to one, and there were so many other alternatives in the city. Heck, one day when I was in line at Borders book store on Union Square in San Francisco, Armistead Maupin was in the checkout line in front of me. It’s a fair question, and I don’t claim to have an answer: How far should we go to support local businesses when a big business has something better, for cheaper?

If we pay more for something when we could have gotten the same thing cheaper at Walmart, we’re basically making a donation to a business. Is that the best form of charity? I have my doubts.

In any case, here in the rural South, everything is different. There aren’t so many choices. And we don’t have big-city incomes to spend in better stores, even if there were lots of better stores. So I don’t know.

This winter I’ve bought avocados at Walmart, for $.99 to $1.08 each. Every one of them has been good and has ripened beautifully. Should I pay $2.39 each for avocados at a grocery store, half of which rot before they ripen or are stringy and dry?

I buy at Walmart only those things that seriously beat the competition. For another example, Walmart has the best deal in organic, unsweetened soy milk. That’s the best accommodation I’ve been able to come up with so far.

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