Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer
KK, while that's great in principle, it really only makes sense for those who live in areas where such markets exist---basically, some areas of larger cities. Very true, I didn't always live in a big city and I remember having to get in my car and drive to a "super market" to buy a lemon.
I live in an area where the city population numbers 75,000. Yet, the only markets we have are supermarkets. There is no butcher, no baker, no candlestick maker. There's a small farmer's market, open about 5 months of the year, but it has very little in the way of choices. It's seven miles to town. So daily shopping for me would mean a 15-20 mile drive everyday, in order to purchase supermarket goods. This would be very difficult indeed, I can imagine that the majority of Americans live in this manner. I can imagine this is why most of America is battling obesity, no reason to walk. Growing up in Virginia we didn't go anywhere without a car, even if it was just a few blocks away. Most places are not set up for pedestrian traffic anyway. I'm quite lucky that within a 3 block radius from me I can find several butchers, bakeries, italian specialty stores, asian specialty stores, fish monger, banks, pharmacies, restaurants of all kinds, boutiques, post office, cobbler, delis, lawyers, accountants, a fresh pasta factory, spa, salons, the list is endles.... no candlestick makers though.
Lexington, the nearest big city, is 35 miles away. It has one butcher shop for a population of a half million. One poorly run seafood store that I'm surprised has lasted the two years it's been open (the last one, which was much better, didn't last past it's third birthday). Several ethnic and specialty markets, which are small, tucked out of the way, and mostly struggling. A couple of bakeries, offering cakes, pies, and pastries; but none I'm aware of offering bread. Weekly shopping, and utilizing the small specialty shops as much as possible, on one hand, and upscale supermarkets, on the other, let's us stock up with higher quality goods, but at a cost of an 80+ mile drive and a $200/week grocery bill. Probably what supermarkets are becoming more of a one-stop shopping trip. I bet your supermarkets have bakeries, delis, fish mongers, even florists in them. Here in the big city our supermarkets are about twice as big as a typical 7-11, no room for more than the basics, we need our specialty shops.
Even the big cities have changed. You actually live in an area that's unusual in regards to availability of those things. Used to be every neighborhood in New York had, within walking distance, at least one butcher, one full-service bakery, one greengrocer. Indeed, that's one of the ways "neighborhood" was defined. It's still like that.
Another aspect of daily shopping has to do with European kitchens. They are, compared to ours, much smaller. Ovens, per se, are relatively rare. Fridges are tiny and deep freezers are all but non-existent in the home environment. So daily shopping, especially for baked goods, is not just a matter of being a healthy choice; it's a necessity. They're getting bigger and bigger like the american kitchens.
Another aspect: Do those skinny French women who shop and cook daily also have fulltime jobs? And haul the kids to soccer practice? And serve on Church committees? And....well, you get the idea. The point being, if you're going to compare cultural practices, you can't just cherry pick. Yes they do. Don't be fooled by the romantic notion of elderly grandmothers doing all the cooking and mothers buttering their children's bread when they get home from school. European women are quite a force to be reckoned with, at least that is my experience. I have several girlfriends in greece who are the bread winners in their families. A top priority for a european woman is to be first and foremost skinny and fashionable.
And, the fact is, despite that book's alluring title, there are an incredible number of fat French women. I wish this was the case but it is not. European women are very weight conscious as FF explained. I find myself ridiculed when I visit and am called the American and made fun of because we eat hamburgers every day. Siduri is right, there is no snacking, people wait several hours between meals, lunches are the main meal and dinner for a european woman is no more than a snack or nibble compared to an american woman's idea of dinner.