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Is the word “exposé” overly dramatic for a post about avocado prices in Arlington, VA?

Two of the highlights of life in Mexico City that we were the most sad to leave behind were 1) the amazing array of fresh fruits, vegetables and meat available to us at incredibly reasonable prices, and 2) the new world of fantastic Mexican food that we’d discovered (vastly unlike what we’d been exposed to at Chili’s in the Midwest). ;)   While the Washington DC metro area is not one of the biggest hubs of Mexican immigrants in the US, we were pleased to at least be returning to an area with lots of other Latino immigrants (i.e. from El Salvador, Bolivia, etc.).  This gave us hope that we might continue to get our bargain fresh fruit & veg fix at Latino-oriented markets to continue our Mexican cooking efforts, like my favorite smoked tomatillo salsa.  (#2, amazing Mexican food, continues to be a challenge… though our friends at District Taco have certainly done their part to keep us fat & sassy.)

Before we moved to Mexico City, we’d discovered a spot called Glebe Market less than a mile south of us in Arlington, VA.  Both the merchandise and the clientele had a Hispanic bent, and it quickly became our go-to grocery store for picking up ingredients for a nice salsa verde or some tostadas.  As John & I progressed in our Spanish lessons, we also used the check-out experience as an opportunity to nervously test out our Spanish with the staff.  We came to regard Glebe Market as a great source for cheap fruits, vegetables, and meat, but we still usually had to make an additional visit to the default yuppie grocery store (Harris Teeter) for our fancy-pants ingredients like brie, real maple syrup, raspberries, sourdough bread, sushi-grade tuna, etc.

Upon our return from Mexico, we started up this routine again– Glebe for produce, the Teet for spendy Kalamata olives & wine not sold in a jug.  But some of the luster was starting to fade– the dingy building housing Glebe Market was, well, still a little dingy.  Sure, it had a new sign, but it lacked the vibrant energy of the mercados of Mexico City (not to mention the availability of esquites around every corner).  And I was lazy– was it really worth driving to TWO DIFFERENT PLACES that are roughly FOUR WHOLE BLOCKS apart for our grocery run? (sarcasm intended)

What could possibly solve this dilemma, you might ask? Data!!! Since I am a dork with math teachers for parents, I took the receipt from our Glebe Market visit 2 weekends ago and brought it into the Teeter that same afternoon. I jotted down all the per pound or per unit prices of the fruit-n-veg like a total weirdo, and then came home and calculated what we would have paid if we’d bought the same stuff at Harris Teeter instead. (That’s right; I made a spreadsheet.  Analyzing the prices of avocados and more. Yep. Drop it.)

So any guesses what this array of items cost us at Glebe, and what we would have paid at Yuppie-landia?

Here's our fresh produce haul for your consideration. Count everything except the tofu, because I forgot to look its price up @ the Teeter. Nebraska friends-- please look away and pretend you never saw that tofu. It was the first time we bought it. I swear. Usually we just buy hulking sides of beef. Honest.

I know, I know– the suspense is killing you!!  Here’s a preview: avocados at Glebe– $1.59 each…  Avocados at the Teeter: $2.99 each….  What?!?!

Proof of my intense price-comparing efforts. When I go bat-shit crazy & start turning into one of those "extreme couponing" nutjobs, this photo will probably be held up as testimony for when people sensed I first started to go off the deep end.

Drumroll, please.  Glebe Market price: $27.  Harris Teeter price: $50

Teeter patrons are paying almost double, people!  Oh, the humanity!!

While my blog may currently exist on your mental list of “resources to look at when planning a trip to Mexico City,” please go ahead and now add it to your list of “blogs with their finger on the pulse of yuppie America that offer hard-hitting exposes of grocery prices in Arlington, Virginia with the intent of encouraging people to consider shopping at Hispanic-oriented markets that are way cheaper in part because they don’t have a big tray of provolone cheese samples lying out for you 24/7.”

Luckily, I suspect that 2nd list may have some open space on it.

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5 Comments on “Is the word “exposé” overly dramatic for a post about avocado prices in Arlington, VA?”

  1. #1 Upal
    on Aug 18th, 2011 at 12:10 am

    (1) I am surprised you did the markup of the receipt with a pen, rather than using some sort of automated script in Excel, or at least a pivot table or something.

    (2) Tofu? Srsly? (can you even get that at the Glebe?)

    BTW Hi to both of you :)

  2. #2 Katie
    on Aug 18th, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Now I just need you to come up 95 a couple miles north of DC and help me find a Glebe market in my area. :-)

  3. #3 Julie
    on Aug 18th, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Upal– when I start rolling out my price-stalking at Dean & Deluca, I will up my game to an iPad. ;)
    Katie– we will keep an eye out on 95-North for hot tomatillo sources!!

  4. #4 Andrea
    on Aug 22nd, 2011 at 10:20 am

    For any of your readers wondering what such market may exist in Atlanta….the Buford Highway Farmers Market is the answer you’ve been waiting for!! $.70/avocado…and that’s just the beginning :)

    they even have conchas and a tortilleria….maybe you should rethink DC Julie ;)

    miss you guys!! if we make it to DC anytime soon, we will have to hang out. ditto if you guys are looking for an escape North (Toronto) or South (Atlanta)!

  5. #5 PWO
    on Sep 9th, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    HA HA HA HA!

    How about 5 pounds of bread from Pasteleria Ideal in the Centro Historico for about $5, versus a single roll at the Dupont Farmers Market (about a buck or more each)?

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