Through the years, a number of widely traveled friends have told us stories of how different life is in other countries. One of the contrasts is in the area of grocery shopping.
Unlike our sprawling stores with seemingly endless stocks of everything from cereals and fruits to meats and medications, the food stores in other countries are often limited in their offerings. Although these foreign outlets may have the basics, shoppers usually have to go to a local butcher for their meats, a bakery for their baked goods, fruit and vegetable vendors for produce and the local chemist for drug-store items.
There's no doubt that keeping the family supplied is far easier here in the States than in many foreign lands.
I'm sure I'm not alone in appreciating the convenience and abundance of our nation's vast grocery outlets. And not only are they a world away from what's available in other countries, they're a long way from the grocery stores you and I knew as kids.
I remember my frequent trips to our neighborhood market with Mom. Armed with a well-planned list, she and I would walk several blocks to the nearby Safeway Store.
Mom would begin making the rounds of the small store, carefully choosing just the right cut of meat, the necessary canned goods, the best produce and the freshest baked goods for the family.
When she was sure she had marked each item off her list, we'd head for the checkout.
After our purchases were bagged, Mom and I would each take a grocery bag and start the trip home. For me, carrying a loaded grocery bag always made the walk back home seem much farther that the original walk to the store.
In later years, when the Safeway closed and a larger market opened a distance from our neighborhood, Dad would drive us to the store. It was a treat to load the heavy bags into the trunk and replace the long trudge home with a comfortable ride.
Although I'm still as careful with my list as my Mom was, my grocery shopping today is a far cry from those long-ago treks.
Our family has now shrunk to just son Tim and myself, so our lists are far shorter. And, since I've developed some mobility issues, I now shop in one of the convenient electric scooters supplied for shoppers by our local Publix store.
Traveling at our own speed, Tim strolls and I ride, both moving through the well-stocked aisles gathering the items we need.
Like my Mom, I take my time choosing the right cut of meat, the necessary canned goods, the best produce and the freshest baked goods.
And, as we head for the checkout, I'm once again grateful for the bounty we have in this country, bounty that our brothers and sisters in foreign lands don't enjoy. Although we sometimes take all these conveniences for granted, my well-traveled friends remind me that grocery shopping is one more reason to celebrate living in the good old USA.