“Lord, to those who hunger, give bread. And to those who have bread, give the hunger for justice.”
—Latin American prayer
I love grocery shopping. The tidy rows of boxes and cans, the perfect mounds of fruit, the wheeling of carts, the checking of lists, the whoosh of the automatic mister that leaves the leafy greens sparkling. I even like the Muzak.
So last summer, to celebrate the grand opening of a Super Giant grocery store in Washington, D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood, I walked five blocks to buy flour for my fiancé’s birthday cake. Behind the renovated Tivoli Square complex, which now houses the Sojourners office, I found a gala underway: red, white, and blue bunting, a live salsa band, and shoppers scrambling for the opening-day sales.
I was impressed by the row of gleaming registers (no more long lines at the dingy Safeway on Columbia Road), the piles of fresh produce (no more wilted lettuce from the tiny SuperSave on Mount Pleasant Street, though it did have homemade tamales and a cashier who knew my name), and an entire aisle of organic options (no more car trips to Glut food co-op in Mount Rainier, Maryland). Also, I’d heard talk in the neighborhood about all the new jobs, and sure enough, there was an army of green-aproned cashiers and stockers.
When we got married, Micah and I moved a mile northeast to the Petworth neighborhood, but we still bike over to the new Giant at least twice a week. So I was surprised last fall by a rambling road-trip conversation on the way home from my parents’ farm in Pennsylvania. The topic was guilt: Does it help or hurt? Should you ignore it or admit it? And what makes you guilty, anyway?
“Shopping at Giant,” I said suddenly. “I feel guilty about shopping at Giant.”