By Joe Romano,
Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.
The origins of the meaning of the word bargain are not really clear. It can be unmistakably traced to the Indo-European word bhergh, which means “to hide or protect.” By the time it became the Old English borgian, it had come to mean ”to borrow.” The Germans added the meanings “to pledge” or “to lend,” and then the French coined bargaignier, which spawned the words “bark,” “barge,” and then, oddly, almost inexplicably, the meaning “to haggle.”
Since then, bargain shoppers have not always been held in a very positive light; until very recently, the mere mention of bargain shopping was likely to conjure images of cheapskates, rabid Bridezillas battling over cut-rate wedding gowns, or obnoxious hagglers carting three-drawer files full of alphabetized and cross-referenced coupons from store to store, in search of dented cans and day-old bread.
Nowadays, we are all bargain hunters. After all, if prices are going up everywhere, then everyone has to make their earnings stretch further than before. And, if people are going to hunt for bargains, they are going to need a guide: Here it is, a quick and simple, 3-Step Guide to Finding Bargains at GreenStar.
Step One: Decide how much work you are willing to do yourself.
Basically, the more time and energy you are willing to put in, the more money you can save. If you are ready to put in many hours of time and effort, perhaps you should stop in our first aisle and choose a selection of organic vegetable seeds from High Mowing Seeds. Growing it yourself is the best way to ensure you get good food at a bargain price, but you will have to wait until harvest. What’s a person to eat while they wait? What should you do if planting, growing and harvesting your own food is too much work? Well, you can shop for basic, essential ingredients, like beans, flour, rice, eggs, etc., and you can prepare your food from scratch. This is where our new Basics Program can help you find the items you need to stock a pantry. For a handful of pennies you can make a batch of dough and bake your own bread, for example. If you don’t have the time to make dough and wait for it to rise, you could buy prepared dough from our Deli. With that inexpensive dough you can make Italian bread, crispy foccacia or a pizza. Still too much time and effort? Then perhaps the Heidelberg bread that we have at an everyday low price is right for you.
The best part of the bargain is that all of the items listed here are organic, local, regional or sold in bulk with minimal packaging. So not only is the price right, but you’re supporting your neighbors by supporting small local farms, you are sustaining the environment by supporting organic farming, and you are promoting cooperative values by shopping at your local co-op. Where else can you get so much for your money? Sounds like a bargain to me.
Step Two: Timing is everything.
It might seem like these hard economic times would be the perfect time to shop at some of those big box or discount stores. Although it might seem ideal to pay as little as possible for groceries, now is the worst time to head to those stores. Yes, you can probably find items at a slightly lower price, but where do they come from? More importantly, where does the money you spend end up? Does it immediately head out of town? Who benefits? What kinds of initiatives are supported by the people who are making that money? How much goes back to the farmer or producer? It is precisely at a time like this when it is most beneficial to keep our money local.
When you support a local business like GreenStar you are keeping your money right here in town. Your money is used to buy products from local farmers and businesses. Part of the money goes to pay staff, who spend the money here in town, supporting other neighbors and keeping our local economy as vital as possible. Right now, small businesses are struggling to stay afloat. Helping local businesses stay vital keeps the local economy strong, keeps property values from dropping, and keeps a solid tax base in our community so that local governments, basic infrastructure, programs and schools are all supported. With federal and state cuts on the way, there may have never been a time when it was more important to support our local economy.
Good timing can also help keep prices manageable. Buying products when they’re at a low price through the Co-op Advantage program makes it easy to stretch a dollar while supporting both the local economy and co-ops around the nation. Taking advantage of our 10% on the 10th program, when we offer a 10 percent discount to all members on almost every item in the store is another bargain opportunity we want our members to benefit from. Using these opportunities to stock up on items when they’re at their lowest prices also saves on gas and cuts down on pollution. If you have stocked up on basic items, there will be fewer times you have to make a trip to buy ingredients for dinner.
Step Three: Take this opportunity to eat more inexpensively and more healthfully at the same time.
At GreenStar, we are committed to providing food in as natural a state as possible. What that means is that we have aisles full of fresh foods and staple items like beans and grains, legumes and flours, fruits and vegetables. These are the basic and essential items that people have been making healthful meals from for centuries. Not only are these foods better for you than processed foods, but they are less expensive. Another bonus is that these foods have the least packaging and the fewest costs associated with processing, handling and shipping. They use the least resources to produce, and foods in their most natural state from local suppliers are packed with the most nutrients making them even more of a bargain. You can start by making oatmeal from scratch, maybe in a slow cooker started the night before. You can start a sprout garden in a kitchen cabinet. For dinner, you can explore a wide range of soups, stews, entrees, casseroles, salads, breads and desserts. You can explore basic American fare or try recipes from every culture in the world.
And you can get some of our best bargains when buying the many spices you will be experimenting with! You might have purchased, say, a jar of conventional oregano for four or five dollars at a local supermarket. If you were to refill that jar in GreenStar’s bulk department with our certified-organic oregano it will only cost you 55 cents (yes, that’s fifty five cents to fill the five dollar jar). Similar huge savings are available for just about every item in our bulk spice section for culinary and medicinal herbs and spices. And you can always buy as much or as little as you need!
Throughout the rest of the store you have access to a palette of incredible, affordable, fresh and robust foods that change with the seasons and the local planting schedule. Preparing food is one of the most visceral ways we can stay in touch with the natural world around us. And your access to information about our products from our knowledgeable staff comes as part of the bargain when you shop at GreenStar.
Etymologists can only speculate about how the meaning of bargain came to be from words like bark and barge. The most logical ideas are that bargaining is like a barge that ferries the offers back and forth between the bargainers. Another is that the bargainers “bark” at one another, hiding behind and protected by the hard bark of their positions, but neither of these theories is really definitive.
At GreenStar, we define a bargain as great food at a great price that also supports your local economy, protects the environment and promotes a cooperative business model and progressive values. When you can shop for groceries and effect real positive change in the world at the same time, then you have achieved the best of bargains, where everyone benefits.
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