When I came to the United States as a refugee, we were getting assistance in the form of food stamps. Food abundance in the stores seemed amazing to our eyes, but we did have to consider what we are buying, because, unlike what you might read in the conservative press, food assistance is not enough to get "real food". I distinctly remember being happy finding sales for chicken legs or pork shoulder and learning to cook with new ingredients. Luckily, I was able to find a job after a few months in the country, and our food choices were much improved.
Now I take good food almost for granted, however, when I come to our local grocery store, I am often flashing back to my childhood when fresh produce was available only when it was in season and when my father was bringing bananas as a special treat from his business trips to Moscow. The life is different now even back home, and fresh produce is available year round... if you have money to afford it.
I am grateful that we still have small, privately owned grocery shops in our neighborhood and we have larger supermarkets as well. Our favorite International Food store is owned by a Lebanese family and carries a lot of international delicacies as well as basic staples. I love seeing people of different origins shopping in this store conversing in all kinds of languages. This store is also well known for fresh, locally grown produce that is usually of a better quality than supermarket fare. They also have excellent beef and chicken, but no fish or pork - this is when a larger supermarket comes in handy. I enjoy making new recipes and choosing good healthy food for us to eat. For this abundance of choices I am grateful.