On Friday the Portland Wild Oats is closing. I don't know whether all of the Wild Oatses are closing on the same day, but that's when it's happening here. The most careful of the shop-local-and-independenters probably never had anything to do with Wild Oats, but those of us who used the farmers' market and other local food sellers a lot but not exclusively will miss it. In spite of its corporate self, it's been small enough for us to recognize employees, friendly enough for us to like them, and designed in such a way that grocery shopping can be enjoyed, even by the cranky likes of me.
We went for the last time two Saturdays ago, when they'd just announced the closing and everything was 20% off. We decided halfway down the meat aisle that it would be our last visit, when the empty meat case actually made me cry. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I'm just not good with change. And the chicken apple sausage at Whole Foods bites. It tastes just like chicken. If I wanted chicken, I'd eat chicken.
So we made our way through the aisles just that last time, stocking up on sweet rice, oats, and other things we know to be even more overpriced at Whole Foods and not always available at other places. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure they have sweet rice in bulk at Whole Foods. Bulk at the Portland Whole Foods means, for the most part, nuts in plastic. Anyway. We had to go back to Wild Oats for a dozen eggs and some polenta the following week, but I wasn't allowed in for fear of further tears.
But I digress. The point is that it reminded us enough of how much we need a good place to buy food around here, a place that is willing to figure out how to make a profit and still support small local organic farmers. So when I got an email from a fellow writers group member inviting me to a forum about the formation of a food co-op in town, I was ripe for the picking, as they say. I don't normally like to help with things, frankly. I would, pretty much as a rule, prefer staying home to... well, most anything that requires going out.
And on a Tuesday night. Tuesday night is bachelor night at our house, when I get the whole evening to do with what I please, which usually consists of writing irrelevant blog postings, watching reruns of Dharma and Greg, and getting way ahead in the Sudoku calendar. It was going to be a lot to sacrifice, especially given how much I hate meetings, which is a lot, because there are usually people at them, and whenever and wherever there are people, there are things to be annoyed about. And at this kind of meeting, I can also count on the mother of all annoyances: the stark relief into which my own general apathy and laziness is brought, as soon as I hear people talking about something they care about and have been working hard at. So you understand it was going to be something of a stretch for me to get myself there. Plus it was going to be like a two block walk.