I am torn.
I should say we, because Rafa feels the same way. We are conscientious consumers. The local farmers market is a great joy for us and we utilize it as much as possible. Living in an environment where incredible fresh food is available 365 days a year made us try to stick to the hundred mile rule because…it’s damn easy!…and it’s the food snob in me. What we wrestle with are the other products we consume; the non edibles and such.
I have three grocery stores within walking distance of the apartment; Auto Mercado, HiperMas, and MaxMenos. Wal-Mart has bought out the last two as well as anything else they can get their grubby hands on. Auto Mercado is your Safeway/Wegams chichi store and it is always packed with gringos…and I am one of them. It bright and pretty and the food is lovely and you can find so much more there that I ever expected (Frank’s Hot Sauce! WTF?)
Auto Mercado…so pretty
The impact of the tourism trade (yes, you US) has really changed the dynamic of Costa Rica. It is estimated that 2 million visitors come here a year, and the revenue from these tourists totaled some $2.2 billion, or 7% of the Costa Rican Gross Domestic Product. That brings growth, jobs and economic stabilty…but it also brings Wal-Mart, Costco, Hooters. China also has infiltrated Costa Rica and there are monster stores that pretty much dump here what the US won’t take. Rafa and I went into one. Rafa crinkled his nose, “What’s that smell?’ China, I said. It’s creepy what they sell; food, furniture, infant supplies. Consumer protection be damned! Lets face it, everybody wants to save a buck, or colón , and we are on a budget…but I am drawing a line.
My balance, of conscious and cost, is that food will remain within the 100 mile rule. Our biggest cheat being olives and olive oil (why don’t they grow that here?) and, believe it or not, pasta. There are some local pasta companies but they are expensive and they don’t make whole grain pasta. Breaks are to be given for indulgences like wine and beer. Granted, beer is brewed here locally, Imperial, but it tastes like ass. I will continue to look for local chocolate, but when the urge strikes, I cannot guarantee I will be that magnanimous. The non-edibles will be by cost and, I cringe when I say this, from the big box stores. A trip to Costco with Rafa’s mom allowed me to stock up, especially on cleaning supplies (bulk bug spray! WooHoo!) A gallon of Listerine and 1000 q-tips sounds a tad excessive, but you gotta know Rafa.
Must admit, I was feeling rather self-righteous about my purchases; Costco is a lesser evil than Wal-Mart, bulk purchases waste less, saving money in the long run, etc. I was patting myself on the back right past the frozen food section, and there staring lusciously at me, were blueberries. I literally squealed…and startled the people around me. I hugged the bag to my chest, soaking my shirt in melting ice. And once again, confirming in Rafa’s moms mind that I am batshit crazy.