Chicago’s notorious Food Deserts have finally become a matter of some actual political attention. Mayor Rahm has promised to at least address this issue during his term. By comparison, the problem in Hyde Park can seem initially trivial (“Which expensive grocery store should I go to??”). To my mind, it actually exposes a related and under-addressed problem: the inflation of food prices in neighborhoods of low-to-middle income individuals (like, say, a large population of students on loans) by chain grocery stores. Anyway, this is to say: this is not just an everyday issue, but raises more concerns about the availability of affordable food in urban economies in general.
But whatever, my two cents about Hyde Park groceries are after the jump
1) Peapod: I was a huge skeptic of this option, but it saved my relationship with my roommate, and cut the amount of time I dedicated to grocery shopping to virtually nothing (really valuable when writing your thesis). It’s incredibly easy, often way cheaper (even with the delivery fees), and prevents you from having to deal with often difficult on-foot transportation of milk across the icy plains of 53rd Street. The thing about Peapod is that it seems decadent and weird in ways that become insignificant once you start doing it. Chemists call this “high activation energy.” I call it: “It’s weird and seems really snobby not to shop for yourself.”
But look, delivery is free for the first month and there are constant promotions. The site “learns” your grocery habits in ways that will be creepy to those of you unaccustomed to the general creepiness of Web 3.0, but it does make useful suggestions about discounts on items that you’ll need (like a 10 gallon vat of Nutella). Personally, I have no issue with the produce, and everything I ordered from them was really fresh, but for those of you with concerns about local origins, Peapod might not be the way to go.
2) Treasure Island: I’ve never gone here without mumbling in rage to myself. “America’s most European Market” is extremely expensive when it comes to anything that’s not on special, and only *mostly* in line with other grocery stores when things are regularly priced. They do have a nice selection of cheap beer and wine, but when you want bananas and cereal, it’s sometimes nice not to pay a thousand dollars. Sadly, they are the most conveniently located for many Hyde Parkers, and sometimes it’s too cold to go farther. So mumble away.
3) Hyde Park Produce: A great place to shop for organic produce and staples. It *can* be overpriced. The non-produce options can in some cases be more expensive than at TI. But for the fresh stuff, this is a great option in HP.
4) Michael’s: I don’t know exactly why more folks don’t pick Michael’s. By contrast with Hyde Park Produce, Michael’s offers the cheapest options for stables and brand-name foods, and not the best produce. I guess if you’re into going to more than one place to shop, I’d say Hyde Park Produce for fresh ingredients and Michael’s for things like pasta, bread, cereal, etc.
5) Farther afield: Believe it or not, that’s kind of it when it comes to options in Hyde Park that are relatively close to campus. A South Loop Trader Joe’s finally opened just today! That’s easily accessible by Metra or the Number 4 Bus. Obviously, if you have a car, the options in Chicago explode. There are obscenely large Whole Foods locations (the one in Lincoln Park has three bars in it….no fooling), as well as Giant, Jewel Osco, and Aldi.
If you live farther away, or feel like you’ll want to get out of HP to stock up on supplies, feel free to ask us for recommendations.