The most depressing thing about Ohio is grocery shopping. I am constantly irritated that the grocery store in my town sells produce practically on the brink of expiry (seriously. It’s gross and expensive). I am not at all irritated that the Food Store is close to my house. All my money could go there and I would be a happy person. I have bougie (bourgeois) food needs. Being able to allocate my money there is clearly a sign of my social class.
The most depressing thing is not the limited access to good food in Bluffton – the village of 5000 at least has a grocery store – or that I have to take the interstate highway to go to a decent grocery store – but it is the fact that I have only seen people buying large quantities of food at the beginning of the month.
In early May, when I began writing this post, I had just come back from travelling to the grocery store in the middle of the afternoon. I normally do this to avoid “lines” and “crowds” (in quotation marks because the larger towns where I shop have populations of 20 000-30 000). And then there were lines and crowds. It wasn’t just before the superbowl beer and snacks these people were buying. It was amounts of food that looked like they could feed a family. Since rural Ohio is the most heteronormative place I have ever lived (but where most people, I imagine, do not measure up to the 2 parents 2 kids ideal), this should not have been surprising. I never see people buying a lot of food, or a lot of fresh food, because it is so much more expensive than canned or frozen or candy. Then I overheard the supervisor explaining to my cashier about EBT cards and sales (SNAP/food stamps benefit debit cards that can only be used to buy certain kinds of food), I realized that people were probably buying so much (aka a normal amount of food) because it was the beginning of the month and they could. I was sad and then I was angry. Most people in the US who qualify for some kind of benefit (and you have to earn so little money to qualify) are already working, albeit at low paying jobs. And shouldn’t work give you at least the ability to feed your family?