Sunday, January 11, 2015

2014: A Foodie's Year

Amongst other things, 2014 was a year of exploring food quality. I'm sure I spent at least 30% more on food than I did in 2013 in shopping at more expensive grocery stores, but I feel it's worth it.

Growing up, the main grocery stores we shopped from by time period were:

Pac N Save: Early 80s
Lucky's: Late 80s
Safeway: 90s
Trader Joe's: 2000s
Sprouts: 2013 - 2015

While food quality increased with each successive grocery store, prices actually came down post Safeway with Trader Joe's and Sprouts with local brands instead of major brands.

Here's my experience:

In college, I got my groceries from La Verde's a convenience / grocery store on campus.
In New York, I shopped at Gistrede's a local grocery store.
In San Francisco in 2006, I shopped at Safeway.
In India in 2007 / 2008, I got my groceries from a local convenience store and obtained fresh vegetables from local food stalls.
In Philadelphia, I shopped at Trader Joe's.
In my 2 years in LA, I shopped at Trader Joe's.
Last year, I mostly shopped at Whole Foods (something I never thought I would do).

With each passing year, I've become more interested in food quality. In India, I learned how tasty fresh vegetables could be. In Philadelphia, amidst the crowded aisles of a tightly cramped Trader Joe's, I learned that the major national brands weren't always the best tasting ones.

Last year, I discovered that organic and high quality produce and other food does taste better. Here are some of my favorite items and where I can get them. Note pretty much nothing on this list is cheap!

Produce: Whole Foods (hands down!). The produce here is consistently high quality. I especially like Driscoll berries, especially the organic variety. Note this will set you back a pretty penny - a small box of organic Driscoll strawberries (from Watsonville), will cost $7. I eat a lot of broccoli, and Whole Foods broccoli (and really any of their vegetables) are especially juicy.

Juice: Santa Cruz is excellent. I especially like the Limeade and Grape Juice. Santa Cruz can be purchased at many stores. They key to good grape juice is high quality Concord grapes. Even better - Navarro vineyards in Napa produces excellent grape juice from the same grapes use to make wine! 

Nuts: I enjoy Trader Joes Almonds. I also enjoy nuts from Bravo Farms (in Kettleman City). Pistachios and almonds are my favorite nuts, followed by walnuts.

Cheese: Whole Foods has great selection. I especially like aged Gruyere.

Sparkling Water: Give me cool, refreshing Mountain Valley or Ty'Nant with limeade or grape juice after an intense game of ultimate frisbee and I'm in 7th heaven.

Honey: I prefer raw honey from the comb, and I've heard its better for you.

Crackers: I recently discovered Mary's Gone crackers (and cookies) from Whole Foods. They are very crispy and are made from brown rice and quinoa. The Jalapeno brand is delicious!

Tea: I much prefer loose leaf tea to dust tea. The taste is smoother and more flavorful. Currently I have 2nd flush Darjeeling and Blue Flower Early Grey tea from Townshen's tea shop in Eugene, Oregon.

So there you have it - my evolution of food buying and my favorite foods and brands. What do you like and where do you like to shop?


raghavandr said...

Good points! There are also added health benefits in addition to taste enhancement.

It is going to be a pretty "expensive" lifestyle :)Well worth it though if you can afford it.

A little bit of shopping around could also help save a buck or two for each of those items.

Sanjay said...

I think you should consider becoming a Costco member where you will find the same Organic fruits and vegetables for 1/2 the price compared to Whole foods. The same goes for Nuts and Sparkling water.

Subscribe to Letter of Marque by Email