Dear Kroger

It's been a while....more than a year hasn't it?  Have you missed me? I stopped by a couple of weeks ago, just to get a couple of things. It looked like not much had changed. 

I used to think we had a future. We were together for almost 20 years, you know.  You were my favorite place to shop, and not just because you were the closest grocery store to my house. I loved your easy bottle return that always had an empty spot for me. I loved that I could pick up some wine to go with dinner if I needed it, and that the grocery carts were practically big enough to park my car in.  Parking was always sooooo easy in your well-lit lot.  You were just so easy to be with. 

You had all the good flavors of ice cream and cereal. And you carried that King Arthur brand of flour that I like - sometimes you even had the white whole wheat kind.  I liked it when you got that little "ethnic food" section and then that little "organic food" section. That was so cute. 

Your produce section might not have been the best in town, but it was pretty respectable. I loved when you started getting those delicious clementines in the winter time. I could eat those by the box. When you added that "gourmet" section you said it was for me, but you know you didn't have to do that.  My favorite part was when you had the thunder sounds play before the little mister would come on over the lettuce and the greens.  That was just adorable. I felt like you really understood me. You got me. I felt like we had a connection - I think that's what really hooked me on you. 

I don't know how things started to change between us. I know I said it was me, not you.  But since I've had some time to think about it I'm not so sure. There were some things I kind of ignored, some things I ought to have noticed about you.  

Didn't you know that the meat you were selling me came from farms where the animals live miserable lives, trapped in their own dung and unable to even go outside?  Where the eggs come from chickens whose beaks are shaved off with a hot wire so they can't peck anything? That the fish you sell are about to go extinct? 

Didn't it bother you that every single aisle is filled with processed food-stuffs that have high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated fats as a main ingredient?  Didn't it bother you that it was making people unhealthy? Didn't you ever wonder where all those foods came from? 

I trusted you to help me figure out which foods were genetically modified or irradiated so I could avoid them. I asked you to be honest with me about which foods came from countries whose health and safety practices are substandard. I trusted you to make sure the milk I was buying didn't have rBGH.  But you really let me down. 

You said I was being unreasonable. But the stonewalling, along with those cardboard tomatoes and mealy apples really started getting to me. And you never even told me what variety they were or where they came from. 

And when I asked you if you could start carrying produce from Michigan you said you'd try, but I could tell you were just saying that.  You don't really care about Michigan. You're from Ohio. 

I feel like such a fool to have believed you. You didn't really care about me. You said you'd change, but you didn't mean it.  You're  just like all the other grocery stores out there. You just wanted my money.  And to know what I was buying every week.  I just got so tired of seeing all the ways that I didn't matter to you, how it was just all about you and what you wanted. You really played me. 

It hurt that all those years, years when I regularly spent hundreds of dollars a month with you, were wasted.  But you know, I think I'm past it.  It's been a while and I'm doing all right. I'm going somewhere else to shop now. No, not any of those other big stores. I've decided I need to do things a little differently. I've made up my mind to stop being such a doormat and start demanding a little more honesty and integrity from the places I shop.  I've got this new thing going and I think I'm in love. 

I can get all the organic food I want now, and it even comes from Michigan. Just a few miles from here in fact. I can get eggs from chickens that still have their beaks and meat from cows that led normal lives and got to eat grass and go outdoors.  I get the best apples and melons and peaches from real people I see and talk to every week.  The organic strawberries are insane.  The produce  is just the best I've ever seen.  And,  get this, I even know what varieties I'm buying.  I know - can you believe it? 

What's amazing is, I can't believe how much cheaper it is to shop like this. It's crazy. I used to buy all those chips, and frozen dinners, and Dove Bars.  But I've changed. I'm making my own granola now, and yogurt too. I made some mayonnaise. I'm making my own tomato sauces and roasted red peppers and sauerkraut. I'm cooking a lot more from scratch and I can't believe how great it feels.  Yeah, I've lost 5 pounds and never felt better. 

So, I hope you're doing all right. I know times are tough right now. Things are getting more and more expensive. But I know you just pass those costs along, so you'll come out fine.  Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that I was thinking about you.  I wish things could have been different between us, but we both know it's better like this.  

Copyright 2011 - The Farmer's Marketer