Since we have arrived here in PA, I have been checking out all the grocery stores. They are mostly pretty much like grocery stores in Oregon, except most are smaller and older and a little dingier. I've found the Winco equivalent (cheap grocery store in Oregon, but here I don't have to bag my own!) and the Safeway which has another name so people can feel they're shopping at a venerable family-run store (even though it was bought by Safeway a few years ago).
One thing I am really missing is the bulk food section. Maybe I've already ranted about this here. I took bulk foods for granted back home. Maybe someone reading this doesn't even know what I'm talking about. That is a section of the store where one can purchase their desired quantity of any number of goods: flour, rice, cereal, dark-chocolate covered raisins, tea bags, spices, dark-chocolate covered espresso beans, pasta, dried fruit... oh, just typing it up makes me homesick! There are bags and labels and you just get what you want and the clerk weighs it and off you go.
Well, I can't find that here. I asked some of the homeschool moms I met about bulk foods, and they all gave me that "you have two heads" look that I usually get only when I answer the dreaded curriculum question. (I don't use one particular curriculum.) Someone suggested Costco. Another woman did mention a food coop she belongs to, and I suppose I will check that out. But no grocery stores with bulk food.
Doing some noodling around the internet, I came across the name of a store with, a review said "an incredible bulk foods section." Oh! I found it on the map - only 8 miles away, a little far but really, if I could find my bulk foods I could finally relax. I couldn't settle down till I checked out the store, so I bribed my kids with promises of drinks and treats if they wouldn't complain about another grocery store visit.
Well, it is a beautiful store. Just lovely. And huge. Incredible produce and even good prices on some things. It took us a while till we saw the sign for bulk foods. Quivering with anticipation, we went down the aisle. And there it was. All the bulk candy and nuts you could want. But where is the flour? The rolled oats? THE SPICES???? We walked around and around. Bought a small bag of pine nuts and some almonds. Went to the baking aisle, thinking the flours and spices might be there. Did I mention I was looking for spices? No. We did find an employee who looked at me rather oddly as I asked in a desperate voice: "Is this all your bulk foods? Is there more somewhere else in the store?" No, she assured me, this is it.
Feeling defeated, we headed for the checkout counter. Then the kids reminded me I'd promised drinks. In searching for something cold, we came upon the natural foods section. I perked up - I saw more bulk bins! OK, here they are! (But what about that gal who'd said there weren't any?) We found granola, and organic nuts, and more candy (including dark-chocolate covered raisins, but no espresso beans) and a bin or two of wild rice. That's it. No flour, no oats, and, of course, no spices. I did find some little packets of spices that are cheaper than the silly glass bottles, but still.
I knew the east coast was different. I knew the weather and the culture would take some getting used to. I knew I'd have to pump my own gas. (That's illegal in OR.) I knew about the sales tax (nonexistent in OR). But I never, ever dreamed I'd be without bulk foods.
I also never dreamed the local Costco wouldn't carry the 8-pack of Rosarita refried beans... but that's a whole 'nother rant.