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Laura and Mary Had Never Seen a Town

February 5th, 2010

The nearest town was far away. Laura and Mary had never seen at town. They had never seen a store. They had never seen even two houses standing together. But they knew that in a town there were many houses, and a store full of candy and calico and other wonderful things – powder, and shot, and salt and store sugar.

Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House in the Big Woods)

It hit me when I read this quote from the book, can you imagine never having seen a store? Can you imagine what they would think if they walked into this Whole Foods?

It’s just amazing how our lives are so different than they were 150 years ago. We don’t head out to the store that often, especially now that we buy a lot of food locally. But with cars and the interstate system, Mr Chiots and I can drive 50 miles to Cleveland to visit a Whole Foods or 25 miles to our local small health food store and be home within a few hours. To me the big grocery is full of plantains and mangoes and things I can’t get here at the Farmer’s Market.

Can you imagine having never seen a town, a store, or even two houses sitting close together?

18 Comments to “Laura and Mary Had Never Seen a Town”
  1. Christine on February 5, 2010 at 6:57 am

    How often do you shop at grocery stores? What sorts of things do you buy?
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..Takin’ the bus =-.

    Reply to Christine's comment

    • Susy on February 5, 2010 at 10:03 am

      Generally when I go to the grocery store, I buy dry goods: wheat berries, barley, rice, coconut oil, some aged cheeses, chocolate, a few tropical fruits, fresh ginger, and coffee.

      We usually get to a big grocery store every 3-4 times a year and to our local health food store maybe once every 6-8 weeks. In the summer it’s less often since I’m going to the farmer’s market each weekend.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Rhonda on February 5, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I see that you buy wheat berries. When you grind your wheat what brand of grinder do you use? I’m in the market to buy a grinder, I just can’t make up my mind. I’m looking to get a non-electric one.

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

    • Susy on February 5, 2010 at 11:20 am

      I have a old Kitchenaid grinder that I currently use. It’s been handed down to my mom from a relative, then to my sister, then to me.

      I’ve heard that the Country Living Grain mills are really great and non-electric but can be hooked up to a motor or even a bicycle if you’d like to. I’ve been considering getting one of these or if I decide to go with an electric one, I’ll probably buy one of these: Tribest Grain Mill

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. stefaneener on February 5, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I used to have a wonderful grain mill. Alas, it was sold for a move.

    Berkeley Bowl is like that — a wonderland of strange fruit and vegetables.
    .-= stefaneener´s last blog ..About the Eggs =-.

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  4. Allie on February 5, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Such a great post! It is funny to think about how amazing a store could be to someone who had never seen one.
    .-= Allie´s last blog ..Things that make me happy =-.

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  5. Joyful on February 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    I love to hear about the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder and loved the show “LIttle House on the Prairie” but cannot imagine never having seen a store. I guess though if you’ve never seen it, you wouldn’t really be missing it. I see your Whole Foods store looks almost exactly like the one in my neighbourhood :-)

    Reply to Joyful's comment

  6. Conny on February 5, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I love when you use quotes from Little House in the Big Woods. :>) I started reading it to my son (6) during the Christmas break: we read a chapter every once in a while now. The one thing that has always stuck with me (since first reading the book in 4th grade) is that Laura and Mary could buy 2 peppermint sticks for one cent from the Mercantile.

    We have Farmer’s Markets and Whole Foods here and many local goods, but lately I’ve considering making a day trip (50 miles) to the San Francisco Farmer’s Market – it’s probably the best around!
    .-= Conny´s last blog ..Corner View – sweets =-.

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  7. ChicagoMike on February 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    I can, its one of the types of thoughts that give me comfort when its late and I need to relax.

    But not as good as the thoughts of a Colts Super Bowl victory!

    GO COLTS!!!
    .-= ChicagoMike´s last blog ..Sesame Crackers =-.

    Reply to ChicagoMike's comment

  8. risa b on February 5, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    The farthest we have been from a store was when our forestry crew worked a contract On the Idaho side of the Bitterroots and the camp cook drove to Missoula, Montana to do the shopping. “I see you have eggs advertised at eighty cents a dozen?” “Yes.” How many dozen do you have?” “Sixty-six dozen, right now, ma’am.” “I’ll take them.”
    .-= risa b´s last blog ..A tale of two pastures =-.

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  9. MAYBELLINE on February 5, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    Wouldn’t it be grand?
    .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..Road Trip Part I – Santa Anita =-.

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  10. Peggy on February 5, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Okay I admit it! I am completely and totally envious of your Whole Foods. You see I’ve never been in one, only seen pictures and heard rave reviews. Oddly enough I can imagine not having seen a town with more than a few houses and only one “general” store. Now don’t get me wrong I have lived the majority of my life in bigger cities but for the past 4 1/2 years we lived in Interior Alaska. The closest store was a small general store where milk was $6 a gallon, gas $3.55 a gallon, eggs $3.50 a dozen (no these weren’t organic) and a 15 oz. bag of chips for $7 to $8. Needless to say we drove the 60 miles one way to the next closest town to go grocery shopping every 4 to 6 weeks. During winter milk was either frozen or we had someone else bring milk down when they were passing through! Apples were bought by the box and very little processed foods were purchased aside from crackers and dry cereal… As of Sunday, we now live within 4 miles of a grocery store. It seems so foreign! I love the convience but know it can get out of hand quickly!

    Do you shop at Whole Foods often? We do have one about 45 minutes away and I was hoping to visit it sometime soon. Do you have any advice about shopping there? Our local health food store seems to be pretty pricey (even by Alaska standards) so I will not be shopping there on a regular basis. (50# of wheat berries for $63… seemed steep to me as we paid about $45 in AK) All suggestions are appreciated!
    .-= Peggy´s last blog ..Foto Friday: Growing =-.

    Reply to Peggy's comment

    • Susy on February 6, 2010 at 4:08 pm

      Our closest Whole Foods is about an hour and half away. We go up there a few times a year, generally when we have a meeting nearby for our business. I do buy a few things there that I can’t find as easily locally, but generally my small local health food store has a better selection of organic bulk items that I buy. I find the bulk section of Whole Foods to be lacking, especially in the “organic” section. If you buy a lot of processed organic foods, Whole Foods is a nice place. It is a nice place to find things that are hard to find at my local health food store, like organic coconut milk, fresh produce from tropical places (I love mangoes & plantains, grew up in South America). I like that you can buy organic fresh turmeric and freshly roasted organic coffee. These are things that are difficult to find in rural Ohio, even in the local health food stores. I also like that you can find a nice array of raw milk aged cheeses, I can find a few of these locally, but generally I have a choice between cheddar and cheddar.

      I’d suggest trying to find or start a local co-op. Those are the best places to find good prices on things like 50# of wheat berries. I buy mine at the local health food store. I sometimes go in on large bags of things with my sister from her co-op. I don’t yet have a good place to store large quantities of wheat berries or other things.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. Sustainable Eats on February 5, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    How amazing that your grain grinder has lasted so long! I have a family grain mill which has a manual option as well. It’s entry level but I’ve been really happy with it because it lets you crack grains as well as grind flour. It also lets you grind corn which many of them don’t do.
    .-= Sustainable Eats´s last blog ..Missing Navigation? =-.

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  12. Hilde on February 6, 2010 at 1:43 am

    I can´t imagine never having seen a town, but I also can´t imagine driving 25 or 50 miles to a store! I walk 10 minutes to our butcher and our baker, our next supermarket is about one mile away, and to the market and the health food store it´s about 6 miles, which I usually go by bus.

    Reply to Hilde's comment

  13. Mrs. Mac on February 6, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    I so enjoyed reading the Little House books as an adult. The descriptions of everyday life are so detailed. Thank you for the recipe for baking powder. I buy small quantities f aluminum free bp .. but didn’t know aluminum was in baking soda as well. Will have to get some b.s. from our local health store for baking. We use lots of b.s. for cleaning so I purchase 12 lb bags from costo about once a year.

    It must have been such a treat for Laura and Mary to finally visit a town and see a store.

    I enjoyed reading about all of the grain mill info you and your readers posted. That is something I ‘m interested in pursuing. I finally found a organic flour from Bob’s Red Mill that is suitable to use without adding any white flour for bread. It’s labeled ‘whole wheat white’ flour made from a soft spring wheat I believe.
    .-= Mrs. Mac´s last blog ..Poisoned In My Childhood =-.

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  14. Sustainable Eats on February 6, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Wow, Susie, what do you do with fresh turmeric? I’ve never seen that before.
    .-= Sustainable Eats´s last blog ..Missing Navigation? =-.

    Reply to Sustainable Eats's comment

    • Susy on February 6, 2010 at 11:06 pm

      I like to use it in beans and in rice, or in lentils, dal, chicken soups, pretty much anywhere I think I can (it’s so super healthy). I use it anywhere I’d use dried turmeric, it’s like fresh ginger (looks similar to fresh ginger as well). It tastes much fresher than powdered turmeric, which can have a bit of a chalky taste.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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