A Central Market Story and Whole Foods Survey

POSTED ON Sep 25th 2014 BY LESLIE LOFTIS UNDER Expat life, Food, Friendship, Housewifery, London, Texas

My friend Virginia came to Texas for my 40th birthday party. Virginia grew up in Virginia (hence her handle), moved to DC and then Manhattan in her early married life. We met as expats in London. She moved back to the States, New Jersey, about two years before I returned home. She flew down to Austin for my birthday. Among other Austin sites, I took her to 38th Street and Lamar where the original Central Market lives.

Combination US grocery store and European market—Borough  Market, I told her—I thought she’d love it. The selection, the style, the Keep Austin Weird clientele.  I thought she would like these things.

We didn’t make it past the door before she went into shock. They had a display of grapes.

Virginia looked at the grapes.

She looked at the sign.

She looked at me and exclaimed, “They are giving grapes away! That’s the price? Seriously?! These are free!”

She wondered how I ever lived in London with this as my baseline. Actually, that is a common refrain among my non Texan friends who visit, although I usually draw the incredulous question after a trip to Target. Central Market is HEB’s upscale shop. It’s not cheap. Regular HEB is cheap. (And has good adverts.)

As I have told my friends, I just didn’t look at the grocery bill in London. I wasn’t buying indulgences like caviar. I had to feed the crew and so just wrote off large sums in the budget for groceries. But it was hard. I couldn’t look or I’d freak out.

Now, after this grocery store comparison survey and chart, HEB’s budget friendly rep should become more well known. As should Whole Foods un-affordablity. That’s some chart. I know I beat on food fads, often, but juxtapositions fascinate me. In this case a Republican—generally more market-oriented capitalists—worked out that he could sell politically-correct apples to liberals—generally not very pro-market—for twice the supermarket price. And the trend is holding.


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