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From Wegmans to Walmart

An array of goodies found at the farmers market in just one given day here in Missouri.

An array of goodies found at the farmers market in just one given day here in Missouri.

Wegmans to Walmart, Massachusetts to Missouri or New England to the Midwest. However you look at it, it’s a huge adjustment upsetting every aspect of one’s life and having to cope with it. It’s what happened to me, a pickup and start over kind of adventure.

Reason #1 Wegmans Rocks- They have classes where you can learn about all sorts of amazing products. The helpings are generous and the knowledge is vast.

Reason #1 Wegmans Rocks- They have classes where you can learn about all sorts of amazing products. The helpings are generous and the knowledge is vast.

Reason #2 Wegmans Rocks- They have child care centers for your little buckaroos. That means blissful shopping ahead!

Reason #2 Wegmans Rocks- They have child care centers for your little buckaroos. That means blissful shopping ahead!

Back in December I posted about my trek, I was moving to Missouri from Massachusetts to be with my Greg. I quit my cushy job which had me traveling all over the country and even to England. I left behind everything I knew including friends, family and supermarkets in order to venture out to the “scary” Mid West. The upheaval of my life was just beginning.

Reason #3 Wegmans Rocks- Even a seasoned veteran like me can seem "normal" when I tailgate at one of their grand openings showcasing products I collected of theirs at other stores.

Reason #3 Wegmans Rocks- Even a seasoned veteran like myself can seem completely “normal” when one tailgates at a grand opening of their store. So much so that showcasing products I collected at their other stores is exciting!

Reason #4 Wegmans Rocks- They have the most creative products. Cupcakes and fruit slice kabobs?

Reason #4 Wegmans Rocks- They have the most creative products. Cupcakes and fruit slice kabobs anyone?

I have to admit that I was no stranger to moving. I started off in Buffalo, NY. Went to school out in Ohio and then after a semester, moved to a school just outside of Syracuse, NY. From there I lived in Kentucky, Florida and Maryland, all before settling in Massachusetts. Essentially though, the East Coast was always my home.  This latest move however was very different not only in terms of geography, but also considering customs, culture and “basic” comforts I had grown to enjoy.

Reason #5 Wegmans Rocks- Their Pub restaurant has some unbelievable food at some unbelievable prices. Take this Speck and Buratta with smoked salumi, roasted mushrooms and peas and topped with truffle butter.

Reason #5 Wegmans Rocks- Their Pub restaurant has some unbelievable food at some unbelievable prices. Take this Speck and Buratta with smoked salumi, roasted mushrooms and peas and topped with truffle butter.

Reason #6 Wegmans Rocks- They're so cool that they have their own ornaments, train sets, Christmas villages and children's toy sets. And you know what? People buy them!

Reason #6 Wegmans Rocks- They’re so cool that they have their own ornaments, pez, train sets, Christmas villages and children’s toy sets. And you know what? People buy them!

Plain and simple, the South and North are very different. I always joked when I lived in Maryland that just as soon as you crossed that Mason Dixon line it was another country. I don’t point out this difference to be stereotypical, but instead to point out that they are in fact VERY different. The food cultures of course will be different as when one talks of southern comfort food, you’re greeted with a Paula Deen style of cooking. A lot of it though comes from the accessibility of ingredients.

Reason #7 Wegmans Rocks- They have these crazy awesome events showcasing beverages, entertaining and food.

Reason #7 Wegmans Rocks- They have these phenomenal educational events showcasing beverages, entertaining and food.

Reason #8 Wegmans Rocks- They have crazy good products including rarities such as Jamon Iberico and fresh truffles.

Reason #8 Wegmans Rocks- They have crazy good products including rarities such as Jamon Iberico and fresh truffles.

Reason #9 Wegmans Rocks- They go so far as to give people the opportunity to try pate and foie gras, and do it with smiles and amazing pairings.

Reason #9 Wegmans Rocks- They go so far as to give people the opportunity to try pate and foie gras, and do it with smiles and amazing pairings.

Reason #10 Wegmans Rocks- Because at the end of the day, the staff can become your friend. So much so that a schmuck like me receives a basket to remember them by upon my departure!

Reason #10 Wegmans Rocks- Because at the end of the day, the staff can become your friends. So much so that a schmuck like me receives a basket to remember them by upon my departure!

Major hubs on the East Coast like Boston and New York, give one  the accessibility to just about any food one could desire. Not to mention because of their diverse population, there is availability to source international ingredients all the same. In the south there is a more generalized focus towards growing what you’ll be eating. The climate of course effects the growing season for both livestock and gardens and it’s considered normal.

Freshly dug up plot of land that is now the spot where I raise our produce here in Missouri!

Freshly dug up plot of land that is now the spot where I raise our produce here in Missouri!

Giving seeds a head start in the world that is my garden.

Giving seeds a head start in the world that is my garden.

The horses in our backyard enjoying some company. Behind them in the field is hay soon to be cut for other area local farms.

The horses in our backyard enjoying some company. Behind them in the field is hay soon to be cut for other area local farms.

I knew that my semi-weekly visits to Wegmans were at an end as they would probably will never reach Missouri- it’s a hard reality I’ve had to face. Greg or Wegmans…..kidding!!! I did research before I moved but also through my frequent visits to the area I was able to figure out what I would actually be able to have access to. Our little town of Farmington, MO had Walmart, Aldi’s and a local grocer, this subtle fact really started to upset me way before the move even took place. Not to mention my brainiac self decided to embark on a semi gluten-free lifestyle and eating as much organic and gmo-free food as I could shortly before my departure.  Trying to adhere to that locally meant a lot of challenges, but it wasn’t impossible.

Selling my own baked from scratch goodies to compliment all the delicious farm raised produce.

Selling my own baked from scratch goodies to compliment all the delicious farm raised produce.

Utilizing farmers markets allows for one to get just picked foods within a localized area. More nutrients and better for the planet!

Utilizing farmers markets allows for one to get just picked foods within a localized area. More nutrients and better for the planet!

I thought I had it all figured out in terms of where I would be sourcing all my ingredients. It was December and most of the stuff I wanted and felt I needed was unavailable. It was Walmart or bust. As much as I despise big corporations, I have to honestly say how wrongly I had judged. Yes of course I still don’t care for them much, but they did have access to quite a number of things I didn’t think possible. There was a selection of organic vegetables, albeit it small it did exist. There were organic canned vegetables and even San Marzano tomatoes. Their gluten-free section was small but it absolutely was there. As far as eggs and milk, yup, they had those organic varieties too.

The garden starting to come into bloom.

The garden starting to come into bloom.

The colorful bounty from my garden at the beginning of season- cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, carrots and cape gooseberries.

The colorful bounty from my garden at the beginning of season- cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, carrots and cape gooseberries.

Trying out new methods of canning vegetables to see us through the winter. Dilly beans, pickles, beets, carrots and sweet cherry tomatoes.

Trying out new methods of canning vegetables to see us through the winter. Dilly beans, pickles, beets, carrots and sweet cherry tomatoes.

The biggest surprise to myself and a lot of my close friends is just how in depth I went into producing my own food. I vowed to make pretty much everything from scratch. I grew a gigantic garden that I could barely keep up with. Every week (which the season is still happening) I find myself canning almost till the rooster crows just to preserve some of that wonderful freshness that only my garden can seem to yield.

The neighborhood cows that will one day end up on our dinner plate here in Missouri.

The neighborhood cows that will one day end up on our dinner plate here in Missouri.

Even as much as I miss New England and the accessibility, I’ve adapted while still keeping true to my my roots. We bought a half of a cow this winter. I knew exactly where that cow came from and how it was raised. It filled a giant freezer with an unbelievable amount of meat. For just $2/lb which included everything from rib eyes to brisket and ground beef, we were and still are living large. If I need my fix of elite ingredients, I’m now finding sources to enjoy in St. Louis. However if my underlying need for Wegmans still prevails (which it always does), then rest assured the closest one is just fourteen hours away. But raising your own food and knowing exactly where it comes from almost has no equal. Just goes to show you that you can find the good in food no matter where you end up.

To full plates and eating your tarte out.

Written by Tarte Chic

Author Kat Nielsen (formerly Kat Wojtylak) is a creative type with an immense love for food. She maintains a day job handling marketing and brand support to various companies while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences.

Comments (5 comments)

  • January 8, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    […] to the overabundance of whole and organic foods I had in Massachusetts. I learned to adapt from my Wegmans to Walmart lifestyle and started the trials and errors of gluten free baking. I found some great online […]

  • Wendy
    October 7, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Even knowing your story, it was fun traveling with you. Are you using a pressure cooker to can vegetables? I am canning tomato products (acidic) and pickling stuff, but am unsure/ unclear of the modern rules of canning fruits and veggies. Helpful hints?

    • October 10, 2013 at 8:06 am

      I’m so glad Wendy! And actually at this time, no, I’m not using a pressure canner. I asked around to the locals and read tons of resources on tomato products which are the most finicky in terms of judging acidity content. While it is recommended in this day and age to use a pressure canner, many people don’t if it’s just a matter of canning for themselves. Just to err on the side of caution however, I always add one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice per pint of tomatoes. I find this versus adding vinegar does not change the taste profile too drastically. So long as your other solutions are higher on the acidic, salty or sweet side, you should be good to go on all other vegetables 🙂

  • KATHLEEN SENGER
    October 6, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Wow! I’m exhausted just reading this. You’ve done a lot and have thrived wherever you end up. I’m proud of you and your hard work.

  • October 4, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    A wonderful paean to the varied topography and diverse cuisines across this country, Kat. One of the many aspects of your blog that I love is knowing I can go there for recipes from all different cultures and types of diets. thanks, Kat!

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