One of the best parts of living on the road is going grocery shopping across America and discovering that the entire country hasn’t been turned into a big box store. From California to Florida, regional grocery stores with character still exist, giving you a great opportunity to become acquainted with local cuisine. Here are just a few of my favorites:
The West Coast
As a California native I took the availability of year-round fresh produce for granted. It wasn’t until we got on the road that I discovered what produce looked like in other parts of the country during winter – and to my California/vegetarian taste buds, it’s not a pretty sight!
If you’re new to the West Coast and you enjoy good, fresh foods, you’ll feel like you stepped into the Disneyland of cuisine when you arrive. In California, one of the most memorable grocery store experiences you can have is a visit to Bristol Farms, an upscale foodie market with fifteen stores throughout the state. Located in swanky cities like Palm Desert and San Francisco, a visit to Bristol Farms is sure to entice you to willingly part with lots of your money over beautiful, lush organic West Coast produce and meats, hand-crafted gourmet delicacies from local food manufacturers and in-store handmade sushi meals, and wine bars.
Practical like the hearty people of the Midwest, yet featuring enough upscale cuisine to satisfy urban dwellers in gentrified downtowns and college towns, the Schnucks grocery store chain was a pleasant surprise. Located throughout the Midwest, this small family-owned supermarket chain has all of the reasonably-priced staples any shopper needs, yet features a huge selection of offbeat ethnic and natural foods that you rarely see in conventional grocery stores. The best part about shopping here is that every employee actually seems to like their job! We always get great service whenever we shop at Schnucks.
The East Coast
There’s something about small, family-owned supermarket chains that give the best quality shopping experience. Located between Massachusetts and Virginia, Wegmans is aimed at an upscale clientele yet friendly to average Americans with tight budgets. Wegmans features all of the best food choices at fair prices, while offering their own private label brand with quality that rivals that of the most well-known food manufactures. Wegmans features in-store fine dining, fresh meat, seafood and gourmet deli selections and features so many vegetarian friendly products that you might think you’d landed in Portland, Oregon!
Well what can you say about shopping in the Southeast, other than you’d better be prepared to loosen your belt a notch with all of the delicious fried, dipped and battered foods you’ll inevitably fall prey to. The Piggly Wiggly supermarket chain is the best place to begin your (hopefully) death-defying culinary adventure into the heart of Southern cooking! Where else can you find cans of potted meat and pork brains on the shelf, with tobacco-sized giant collard greens to round out the food pyramid on your plate? If you want to experience the widest collection of down-home regional cuisine in the south, head on over to the Piggly Wiggly, the nation’s first self-serve supermarket chain that’s still alive and thriving in rural communities around the south.
Grocery store shopping is often a hassle when each location is different, but by avoiding the all too familiar national chains and exploring regional grocery stores, you’ll not only fill your fridge with necessities but go on a fun expedition into the foods and flavors that comprise this colorful nation!
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.