Monday, August 3, 2009

Comparing supermarkets

If you want to shop right at ShopRite, you'll have to pick the right store. With three ShopRites within 6 miles of my home, that hasn't always been easy.

The ShopRite in Englewood, where I lived for more than 25 years, is the smallest of the three, but carries more of the products I look for when food shopping. The ShopRite in Rochelle Park, though larger, often disappoints when I'm looking for Readington Farms drug-free chicken and doesn't carry the Certified Angus Beef Natural line. The ShopRite in Hackensack, which is closest to me, doesn't seem well-run and doesn't run a sale as often as the Englewood store. Rather than go there, I'd keep driving to the H-Mart, the Korean supermarket at the Little Ferry Circle.

The Englewood store is the only one of the three to carry the Applegate Farms line of preservative-free cold cuts and Certified Angus Beef Natural, which is antibiotic- and hormone-free. On Saturday, I saw London broil and ground beef. It also has the largest selection of Readington Farms vegetarian-fed chicken.

Rochelle Park's strong suit is produce -- large bunches of arugula for 98 cents each and Jersey peaches for 99 cents a pound. But it had a 1-pound container of Campari tomatoes for $4.99, twice the price as elsewhere, and a pound of Olivia's organic spring mix for $6.99 v. Costco's price, $4.49 for Earthbound Farm. On Sunday, a sign said two bunches of arugula or watercress were $4, which seemed high, but the two arugula bunches rang up for $1.99. Basil was $1.49 a bunch, but a few days before, it was $1.69. Go figure.

Still, all the ShopRite stores have sold me more produce that never ripened or rotted overnight, because of poor storage, than I care to remember.

All three stores often fail me when I'm in search of Australian free-range lamb, especially the moderately priced shoulder chops. And the availability of Nature's Reserve free-range steaks from Australia is spotty. I stopped buying fish at ShopRite after an employee in Rochelle Park told me he sprayed it with a preservative. I do buy live lobsters there. (Revised Tuesday, Aug. 4.)
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