Hannaford v. Chobani

From healthforthewholeself.com

I’m a general fan of our local supermarket, Hannaford. Heck, you can read how much I love it here, here and here. But, upon recent trips to the store, I have become dismayed…then downtrodden…and eventually pissed enough to jot down an idea for this blog post on my shopping list. (Yes, I even called it “Hannaford v. Chobani”.)

In case you’ve never heard of it, Chobani is a locally-operated producer of high quality Greek-style yogurt. It happens to be de-lish. They’re notorious for two things: #1) Donating lots and lots of their yogurt to great causes; just two that I’m aware of were for the runners and walkers at this year’s “Heart Run and Walk” and to my high school (both to send to a school in Louisiana for a cultural exchange as well as to our school for the kids to try) and #2) Being the fastest-growing yogurt seller (and now #1! Past Dannon and Yoplait!!) in America. Seriously, they’re awesome – and all-natural – AND they support local farmers. Check out their site, it’s worth it. I discovered that they now have kid-friendly yogurt options, which is awe-some!

Clearly I’m excited about the stuff. I tend to purchase the large (32 oz.) container of strawberry (classic), which I bring to school and toss with Kashi Go Lean CrunchΒ  (thanks for teaching me about it, Missy!). Delicious.

So, why am I so upset? I was frustrated to see that the usual $1 price for a 6 oz. container of Chobani (they have so many delicious flavors!!!) has been boosted, not by a few pennies, but to $1.19. A 19% increase?!?! Man! I used to grab the occasional blueberry for Dave to enjoy (gotta be nice to our spouses, y’know…especially when we’re in the doghouse ;-D j/k)…now it’s going to have to be a huge special occasion to do so.

It became immediately clear to me what caused the jump in price: the Hannaford brand, Taste of Inspiration, had released a new Greek-style yogurt – priced at $.85. Not only did they introduce competition at an already-lower price, but they upped the always-steady $1 price of the Chobani product. Call me Communist, but this bugged the heck out of me.

I understand the concept behind competition. Well, sure, I may understand a lot of things. The rise of big business. The shift from rural to urban lifestyles. The advancement of technology. Yep, I get it all…but it doesn’t mean that I agree with it. And this is one of those cases.

A local product made by honest folks who have gotten tons of press nationally that you couldn’t keep on your shelves, and you, Hannaford, simply had to get in on the action. Seriously, there’s a sign…wait, it looks kinda like this:

From mealsandmovesblog.com

This stuff is popular, as it should be. Good people doing good things, providing healthy, high-quality goods. Gee. There must be money to be made off of it. *grumbles* Sorry, that’s not a professional way to vent, but sometimes “GRRR” is all one can say.

How can I (or we?) combat it? I don’t really see a way, other than continuing to purchase my luckily-same-priced 32-oz. stuff, and possibly the occasional “whooooaaaaa, that’s ‘spensive!” 6-oz. stuff (with, perhaps, the odd coupon here and there, nudge-nudge, wink-wink). There’s a little part of me that says “Hey, cool, there’s a cheaper option for folks who can’t afford it”, but the sentiment behind what Chobani does is much grander, in my mind, than that. Hopefully the genuine fervor which has skyrocketed the company to such great heights won’t wane with the introduction of new competition. Here’s hoping!

And, if you don’t have Chobani in your stores yet, talk to the manager and write a letter to Chobani. It’s spreading like wildfire, so be proactive and a part of the “movement”. Support any company that cares about its customers and gives us high-quality, all-natural options. (Jumps off soapbox.)

Bruthas from Anotha Mutha

After over a month with a third kitty in the house, distinct personalities are coming out – and not just in Jasper. The entire cat relationship has shifted, which is to be expected whenever you introduce a newbie. In our case, clear similarities and oh-so-blatant differences have arisen.

We’re lucky to have three very different personalities. It definitely makes for an interesting life. πŸ™‚ We also, literally, have three different cats. Beardslee is a liger – lion/tiger. He’s meaty. He’s orange. His paws are like chunky fists of “me-so-strong”. When I pick him up, he puts his front paws on me and it HURTS – so much strength! He’s got soulful eyes. All a combination of tigerhood and lion-ness (not to be confused with “lionness”; he’s all man. Boy, is he.).

Winston is a panther. His dark “Halloween cat” coloring. His sleekness, length, and general sexiness. He’s got a fabulous model walk. He’s tall with a long tail. He’s bony, even when overeating (hides it well). He’s quick. He’s got a mean, moody streak, for better or for worse. That man’s a panther, hands down.

Newbie Jasper is a bobcat/wildcat (shout out, ODY!). His coloring is the biggest giveaway; he’s got almost every color, from brown to tan to gray to black. His ears and appendages have black tips. His eyes are sweet but with a wildness about them. He’s relatively short-bodied but has broad shoulders and wide-set front legs. Whatchya think? See? Even a cute pink nose!

Personality-wise, the similarities are interesting. Winston and Jasper are both really fast (literally and in their thinking); Beardslee, not so much. Beardslee and Jasper are uber food-oriented; Winston, not so much. Winston and Beardslee are just as friendly as they ever were, I think because Winston feels threatens and wants to make allies wherever he can get them (he’s quite the little conniver). Beardslee and Jasper could sleep all day long, easily; Winston seems to need maaaaybe an hour of sleep each day. They all like windows (of course). Winston and Jasper like soft toys, but for different reasons. Oh, and they’re all on diets (the doctor has actually said that Beardslee’s just meant to be heavy, it’s his body type, but he can’t gain anymore weight; Winston doesn’t LOOK it, but he can’t gain anymore, either; Jasper was used to grazing at the humane society that he’ll have to get used to having distinct meal times).

The differences are interesting and reminds us that, well, personalities are like that. Jasper almost never covers his, um, “potty”, which bothers Mr. OCD Beardslee, who is known to get in and cover it FOR him. Winston seems to be fighting a war that doesn’t exist, loving to remind Beardslee of his dominance and letting Jasper know from the first moment that HE was boss.

I guess their love of different types of toys explains it best. Beardslee has always loved playing with balls. They roll easily and if there’s a human around, he doesn’t have to do much (we roll it to him, he whacks it back, etc) – so he exerts lots of energy at one time and then crashes. He’s lazy, but sweet. All he wants is a head bump from one of his brothers…who, 99% of the time, don’t return it.

Winston’s a hunter. He has a mouse toy that he has torn apart twice already. He has a Kickeroo (“Screwy Louie” – Screwy Louie Kickerooey…yeah, each toy has a name), but he prefers it because he can pretend it’s dead pray, biting and kicking the oh-snap out of it. He tries to do that to Beardslee’s head, but not often (because I loudly punish him). Sneaky, sneaky boy.

Jasper likes anything SOFT. We bought him a miniature Kickeroo, but he just tends to lick it, use it as a pillow, and rub his face on it. From day one, he adored cuddles and chin scratching. He hardly ever uses the “fun toys”, and would much rather spend time with the humans than the other cats. His heart is as gold as Beardslee’s, but he doesn’t show it the same way.

So, that’s an update on our little guys. Sweet, sassy, silly. We’re lucky to have them in our lives. Now, if we could just get rid of Jasper’s upper-respiratory infection. It’s hard to get snot off of…well, everything. πŸ˜€

Milkin’ It

Not to get preachy or disrespectful to the memory of MLK, Jr., but I have a dream. No, really, I have a pretty random dream (among others) that probably comes from my not-too-distant farmer ancestors.

See, my dad grew up on a farm. My mother’s family owned a farm for quite awhile during her childhood, too, but Dad’s was a working dairy farm with several family homes on the property. That’s probably why it was nicknamed “Homestead Farms”, and that’s what I look for when searching local antique stores for my touchstone to the past – the original glass milk jars, scrolled with the aforementioned, or “Brown’s” (my grandmother’s family owned the place; my grandfather took over).

I even had quite a bit of experience on a dairy farm from 3rd grade to around 8th grade. Yep, I scraped $#*! and took care of stray cats and got to name cows. It was a fun time.

No, my dream isn’t to own a dairy farm…although I’d love to start with my own chickens someday, but that’s a whole different dream. πŸ˜‰ THIS dream comes more in the form of a question (well, more than one): In this age of convenience, why can’t dairy farms deliver straight to people’s homes like “back in the day”? Why must they sell to a corporation that travels hundreds of miles to further process, fill chemical-laden plastic jugs that allow light to leach nutrients out? Why can’t we have reusable glass containers with fresh milk from local farmers?

This dream or wish or whatever you’d like to call it, in my mind, solves several problems. a) Keeping the money local while helping friends and neighbors in their economic endeavors; b) Supporting local farmers who are all too often forced to sell the land that their families have owned for generations; c) Providing local consumers with a high-quality product of convenience. Lots of economic, environmental and moral issues solved, in my mind.

As I see it, it’s only a hop, skip and a jump before this could also relate to door-delivered CSA contributions and, one of my all-time HUGE dreams, creating a Central New York-based program like Vermont’s Vermont Fresh Network, linking local farmers with local chefs and restaurants, providing consumers with fresh, all-natural, local ingredients. But, yeah. That’s a different post. *ahem*

I’ve heard that urban areas such as NYC are utilizing this, which I think is fantastic. But, what sense does it make when we’re surrounded by dozens upon dozens of milk-producing farms within, heck, a 30-mile radius.

And this is the point in our rambling post when I state that I LOVE MY HUSBAND!!! He knew of my silly little dream, and over time obtained the knowledge that there are stores near Utica (Byrne Dairy, if you’re from the area) that provide locally-provided milk in (reusable!) glass containers. It wasn’t the answer to my dream, but it was partway there. And, since Dave works in Utica, it wouldn’t be a huge bother for him to grab milk on the way home.

One day, he excitedly contacted me that he would buy some on the way home. Honestly, he was way more excited than I was. I assumed they wouldn’t have the 1% that I prefer using, but when he arrived home, I was pleasantly surprised.

He was also quite excited that he’d get 50 cents back when he returns the bottle, although he immediately recognized that he’d paid the 50 cent usage with the price – which he said was $1-something, so it was $2-something (not quite sure how much), total. That’s still better than the stuff we buy at Hannaford. Although I wish I could be guaranteed that this is hormone-free. *sigh* The burden of knowledge. Update #1: I found out from Dave as well as the bottle cap that growth hormones are NOT used in the production of this milk. Wahoo!

I have yet to taste the milk, but Dave insists that it tastes really, really good. This is impressive because, well, he’s a man, and even he would admit that he’s not usually a milk drinker. I tend to think, “Okay, big meal, tall glass of milk with it.” Since meeting Dave, that’s turned to “big glass of water” or “small glass of wine” or what have you. Seeing that I have osteoporosis in my lineage, I’m hoping this stuff tastes as good as he says!

And while we’re at it, here are a few other beverages that have been keeping us cool during the start of quite a heatwave. (I’m not complaining, though. My brother lives in Chicago – I hear it’s hell out there!)

I used to make homemade organic iced tea, but we’ve since discovered this “Sweet Leaf” organic tea, which is delicious and costs $1.99 (and, of course, is tax-free). Mix it with a bit of the Newman’s Own all-natural lemonade and you’ve got a refreshing Arnold Palmer. Why does that sound like it should have alcohol in it, too? Hmm.

Anyhoo, I’ll be sure to post a follow-up when I taste the milk. Probably a note riiiiight here…hoping to try it in some cereal for breakfast tomorrow. UPDATE #2: Okay, so I didn’t have cereal ‘cuz I wasn’t feeling it, but I DID have an organic English muffin with peanut butter and jelly – is that not calling for a tall glass of milk, or what? The second that I tasted the milk, it brought me back to my childhood kitchen table with a large Sunday meal (why do I automatically think of roast beef?), in a good way. It. Was. Delicious. I’m sold! Had to text the hubs immediately with the great news – which he seemed just as happy about. πŸ˜€

What about you guys? Are you consistent milk drinkers? Or don’t you use it at all? Do you go for skim (ew, watery), 1%, 2% or whole? Do you purchase what’s cheapest, or look for organic or hormone-free? I’m interested in milk trends amongst my friends, what can I say? It’s in my blood.

Summer Planning

Doing my best to focus on the positives of life and what there is to look forward to (as well as reminding myself that I deserve happiness), so Dave and I are deciding where we’d like to travel for our mini-vacation this summer.

Since Dave works a normal job (or…less than normal…but, y’know, vacation-wise) and I signed up for summer school (which is a pretty sweet gig, only half days and Fridays off), we’ll only be going for a short, overnight sorta trip. And, sorry, not telling when until we get back – we’ve got a thing about letting the random Internet public know when we’re not in the house. πŸ˜‰ No offense! I’m sure my readers aren’t random, but you never know.

As per tradition, we will be heading to Old Forge for our annual Enchanted Forest/Water Safari (where the fun never stops, dun dun)-and-romp-around-town getaway. It involves putt-putt golf, eating at random boutique-ish cafes, and shop browsing. It’s more fun than it sounds, really. When I was a kid and many of my friends were going to Florida or Cape Cod (sometimes numerous times a year), I was fine that my mother brought us to Old Forge. Throw in the Adirondack Museum and you’ve got one very happy girl!

So, as far as our out-of-state-away (different type o’ getaway), we’ve got a couple of factors that we’re looking for. Our future trips may not always consist of these, but currently, these are our must-haves:

– History. It doesn’t have to be riddled with massively important and life-changing places, but we prefer to get some culture and a level of education out of our trips.
– R&R. I’m hoping that the trip can be rejuvenating, even if it is just an overnight. This can come in several forms, from beach walking (and reading and laying upon) to losing ourselves in unknown (safe) neighborhoods. In other words, taking things as they come and not over-planning.
– Three to four hours away, tops. Since this is only an overnight trip, we figured it would be a waste to travel for 6-8 hours each way. So, yeah, that helps with determining the radius of where we’ll search. Or is it diameter? Diameter, right, diameter. d=2r. Thank God for Google; otherwise I’d have to live by McCoy Math.
– Cute shops. Y’know. Just for fun. πŸ™‚ And hopefully some antiquing along the way.

Those aren’t a lot of demands, are they? Eh, maybe. Maybe not. Anyhoo, we’ve rounded it down to Boston (although it wouldn’t be that relaxing and beachy; we’ve visited in the past and LOVE seeing Quincy Market and all things Freedom Trail…oh, and I guess we took a walk by the harbor, so that was close to beachiness…sans the peace) and several towns in Connecticut. Just trying to narrow it down.

If anyone has some final suggestions, I’m open to everything! Er. You know what I mean. Especially if you’ve had any great or horribly shareable vacation stories from the places I’ve mentioned – or any place close to them. πŸ™‚

And Jasper Makes Three

People seem to hope for a birthday to be memorable. This year, I was hoping for a low-key, relaxing sort of day. I didn’t get it.
It was the first day in several that I could sleep in, which I tried my best to do. When we finally woke up, my wonderful husband showered me with gifts and I opened the cards I had received. We agreed to go out for breakfast and hit up the Little Falls antique shops. Everything was off to a perfect start.
But, then, I heard a call from the bathroom. Dave heard a cat meowing. “Well, sure, we’ve got cats,” I said. He explained that it was coming from outside, and that it was loud and consistent. Still in my PJs, I headed outside to inspect further. After walking down off of our porch, I heard the nearby, high-pitched meow, turning around to see her (we thought) mulling about around the back of our house.
I knew immediately that she couldn’t be a stray – or, at least, not a feral stray. She was way too affectionate, walking up to me and rubbing on my legs immediately. In retrospect, I suppose it could have been that I smelled like two male cats and she was in heat…but it wasn’t “that type” of affection she was showing.
Eventually, Dave joined us outside, and we watched her wander up our porch stairs, back down and around the front of the house, casually enjoying the gorgeous day. The boys jumped onto their perch to further inspect, and Winston immediately fell in love. Exactly the way Davy Jones used to, with stars and everything. Or he wanted to eat the intruder. Either way, he was majorly interested. Beardslee seemed wary at first, but shortly seemed to be tilting his head in a sweet curious way.

We discussed what to do. We may be softies, but we take issue with cats who are a) possibly not fixed and b) allowed to roam free. Studies show that they have much shorter life spans…and, honestly, we take it HARD when we see a flattened cat on the side of the road. Like, let’s take the day off to mourn sort of hard. (Not that we do.) So, we decided to call the humane society when they opened — at noon, unfortunately (there went the lovely morning we had planned). It turned out that they couldn’t take anymore cats publicly, but if we were to call animal control, they would be legally obligated to take her. My heart strings were tugging. She was so very sweet and beautiful, and there seemed to be a strange sign that she found us on my birthday, but I wanted any possible owners the opportunity to pick her up.

So, we made the very difficult decision to call animal control. Dave put the call in, and my heart slowly started to break. When they came and the little one fought not to go in the cage, the last piece of my heart broke. I quickly thrust her into the holder and briskly turned away, sobbing.

Two months later, and we had visited a few times…and, of course, no other owner had. We had named her “Abigail” (after Abigail Adams – if you haven’t seen “John Adams”, you MUST!), but the humane society quickly renamed her…Albert. Yep, apparently Albert had been fixed, and we saw zero evidence of his manhood. Oops. In my defense, Winston and Beardslee are the only male animals I’ve ever owned, so because they still have *ahem* “evidence” of what was “once there”, I was misinformed. Let’s blame our little well-endowed boys on this one. πŸ˜‰

After hours of conversation and days of saying “We’ll talk more later”, I couldn’t wait any longer. We called and set up a pick-up (that afternoon!) and Dave called for a vet appointment for the next day. So, he got picked up by Mama – which isn’t how Dave and I usually do things, but time was of the essence.
The next day, before bringing him to his appointment, Dave and I went through lists of English names that might go with our currently-Anglo boys. Sure, Winston is mostly “Wee Wee” (unless he’s in trouble…which is A LOT of the time) and Beardslee is oftentimes “Boo”, but Albert didn’t fit this lil’ guy’s cute face, huge blue-yellow (yes, blue-yellow) eyes, and slight feistiness. It was between Jasper and another one that we can’t seem to remember, so we decided to call Dave’s mom for the final say (I voted Jasper, Dave voted the one that even HE can’t remember now, ha). We sent her a picture and put in the call – Jasper it is! (I did a little victory dance.) It made sense, since the vowel sounds in “Albert” are similar to those in “Jasper”, so it wouldn’t be a difficult transition (to have a name with his prior owners, then the HS, then with us). Plus, I had been watching my old “Avonlea” DVDs and the name was on my mind – anyone know who I’m talking about? A thousand points to you, if so!

After getting his shots and check-over, Jasper was sequestered in our guest room for the drugs to take effect and for any parasites/fleas (luckily, there weren’t any!) to fall off…and to acclimate him with his brothers a little at a time.

It’s been a couple of weeks already, and the transition has been a lot smoother than when Winston came to live. We’ve noticed similarities that Jasper shares with Winston (such as his body language and energy; Beardslee’s a sleeper and lover, not a prowler and fighter) as well as with Beardslee (FOOOOOOOOD!!!! Although all 3 boys are officially on diets. Oh, and a whork thing – I’m thinking Jasper’s is because his crappy coat needs to come out…and he’s eating lots of it). While there’s no real fighting or hissing going on (like on Day #1), the strange thing is that Winston bats at Jasper (and he doesn’t fight back) and Jasper tends to bat a bit at Beardslee (who doesn’t fight back). I’d say that the dynamic will be different in a month…and even more different in 6 months.
So, we’re officially outnumbered, and I’ve promised to my mother that “this is it.” Seriously, the next addition should be a child…but not anytime soon. πŸ˜‰

There were so many possible titles for this post that I seriously considered this one (of course, only because it was in my head when we picked Jasper up – and I borrowed this CD from my best friend in high school and listened the crap out of it…seriously, a song named “I Like Chinese”? And, yes, I know the song is annoying.):

Just Checking In

Sorry, guys, that I haven’t been writing a lot lately. There are lots of reasons, from the crazy first week of summer school to theater issues to working on my sister’s baby shower (which is tomorrow!). But, in all honesty, the biggest reason I haven’t written is because I’ve been going through some self-confidence issues. It’s really challenging to motivate oneself to write something that people will actually want to read when you’re feeling quite a lot like mud.

It’s not like I don’t have things to tell you about. We’ve got some news around this place, after all. Like, a new family member! Well, yes, my sister’s having a baby, but in our household, we got a new personality that we’re all getting used to having. I’ll report more on that soon – with pictures. πŸ˜‰

For now, I’m trying to figure out how to find my confidence (it’s easy to say “Don’t give others the ability to control your confidence, whether they add to or take away”, but incredibly challenging to apply). I’ll be putting my attention to things that I can do for myself, that make me happy, and that may benefit others. It should turn out to be an enlightening summer – I hope. So, just checking in and letting you know I’m still alive…and that I WILL be writing!