Scaling the Great Wall: Shopping for a month at an Asian supermarket
Most of us are familiar with the American supermarket—maybe too familiar. The Safeway or Wegmans or corner market supplies a lot of convenient food—and a lot of those aisles are full of things that are only a rough approximation of food—but that very convenience can make the local supermarket a rut. The deadening hand of routine takes over our shopping lives: We know what we want, where to find it, when to get it, and what to do with it. These habits can be the biggest obstacles to discovering new regions of the food universe.
But abstain from your routine for a week or so and your natural ability as an innovator flourishes. An innovating consumer has a profound effect on the marketplace and the food economy. After all, maybe the American supermarket, for all its conveniences, isn’t actually the best way to sell—or buy—food. At the very least, maybe it’s not the best way to do it all the time.
With that thought in mind, I conducted an experiment. For a month, I’d refrain from buying food from mainstream supermarkets and instead choose—exclusively—an ethnic grocery store, in this case a big Chinese/Asian market in Falls Church called Great Wall.