Friday, November 4, 2011

Drugstores ... Would Hippocrates be proud?

Everyone seems to be selling everything these days. I remember when I first saw a clothes rack in a supermarket and thought, "How odd.  Who would eat shirts?"

Before long you'll be able to get your hair cut whilst waiting for an oil change and your hairstylist will also do your dry-cleaning.

New York City has always been the place that has no bedtime. One of the icons here has, as far as I can remember, been the 24 hour Korean grocery store. The moniker comes from the fact that most were started and operated by Korean families and if you have to ask, yes, the one across the street from me also has Kimchee. They are like mini supermarkets with some unusual emphases such as an extensive selection of hot and BBQ sauces and a broad choice of imported beers. The also have a few different kinds of frozen entrees and dumplings and more than a few Amy's products in addition to an actual produce and herb selection. And fresh tofu and sprouts too.

A few years ago the CVS drugstore went to a 24 hour operation. I understand the possibility that you might need toilet paper at 3 in the morning but that begs the question of wouldn't it sort of be too late if you made that discovery at that time? And if you did, at that point, well you probably could put off your purchase until the next morning, no? Anyway, the Korean store sold t.p. but if you really weren't feeling well they also had a whole selection of small packages of over the counter meds so this 24 hr drugstore, (the pharmacy is closed in case that's what you were thinking), never made sense to me.

The last 2 drugstores that opened in my neighborhood had a bad case of steroid addiction. One is over a half block long and the other is the entire ground floor of a high rise building. Both open 24 hours. That's 3 super drug stores in 7 blocks, all having a food section.

I don't know if it's a nationwide inventory or just some marketing guru's idea if what hip (chic) Upper East-siders go for but there was almost a whole freezer case of Amy's Frozen entrees. Yes right next to the emergency bags of spinach and romaine hearts.
Should you buy this?  From here?  Should this even be in a drugstore?
At least insomniacs now have a healthier (and vegan) choice. Oh wait. My little family owned store had been carrying them for years. So is corporate America going to stomp out the family grocer? By offering health(ier) choices to either the impulse buyers or someone who can't walk across the street to buy food in a food store (well, it IS called convenience food so who WOULD it appeal to?), are we actually going to put small business out of business and ultimately reduce our choices in the long run? Do we support a business like Duane Reade, CVS, or Rite-Aid or Walgreens for diversifying and offering vegan and healthier options (perhaps in neighborhoods where there isnt a Korean store with fresh foods and vegetables) or do we eschew healthier fast and processed foods and buy fresh tofu, sprouts and basil and mint and a few fruits and veggies across the street? I think mega chain drugstores should stick to drugs and Bobby pins in my neighborhood but might be able to break through the food deserts in underserved markets. Yet at premium prices this may not be an option for the low income residents who inhabit those places within a food desert. My question is, "Is this the way we want to change the way America eats, by filling the shelves of our drugstores with high salt, high fat, (although vegan) frozen foods and a bag of lettuce?
Are our priorities to buy vegan?  to keep the mom and pop small grocery open? to support vegan business? to support large corporations as they attempt to ride the "VEGANWAVE" to profits?

What do you think?

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