When Kish and I lived in Washington, D.C. years ago, we walked to the Safeway on Capitol Hill and, later, the Safeway in the Watergate in Foggy Bottom. Like many other D.C. residents, we had a stand-up metal cart that, when folded out, could comfortably fit two full paper bags of goods, and that was how we carted our food back home.
When we moved to the suburbs of Columbus we kept that cart for a while but never used it, and finally we gave it away to the Salvation Army. The suburbs are made for cars, not carts, and as the boys grew up, and showed the appetites that boys always have, we needed far more than two bags of groceries, anyway.
Now that we’re back to just the two of us, the idea of walking to the grocer’s, just as we did in our pre-kid days, is appealing — and I wish we still had that cart. We’ve got a Giant Eagle in one direction and a Kroger in another; both are about 10 blocks away. Yesterday afternoon I walked to the Kroger to shop. It reminded me of some of the benefits of walking to the grocer’s.
For one thing, it encourages discipline. You need to carry home everything you buy using your own muscle power, not horsepower. This tends to encourage making thoughtful lists and avoiding impulse purchases. At several points yesterday I weighed whether to buy something, took a look into my basket, and voted no because it probably would put me over the two-bag carrying limit. You also tend to avoid the heavy and ungainly giant-size options. The inevitable result is less food around the house at any given point in time . . . and less food going bad. And, of course, you also get the exercise of walking to the store in the first place, and then the combination walking-carrying exercise on the way back.
My walk to the grocer’s yesterday felt good, and it brought back some memories, too.
And you help the environment as well. A personal note: I’m the youngest of four, and my parents didn’t own a car until after I was born. (Hard to imagine that now). Sometimes they borrowed my uncle’s car, but mostly they walked everywhere, including the small corner grocer a few blocks away. So they always bought just what was essential. They didn’t even have a cart, as far as I remember, but maybe used a baby stroller’s space unoccupied by me or a sibling. For decades after that, they would drive to the grocery store almost every day, and only pick up what was needed. Old habits die hard.