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Shopping in Coralville

From a Shopping Trip in Coralville

I went on a shopping trip yesterday.

What of it, readers may ask. People go shopping all the time and some say our economy is predicated on consumers shopping.

That may be, however, in an hour and 12 minutes I spent 18 percent of our monthly budget on the stuff of living. It was a big deal.

The reason for the shopping trip was I took this week off from the home, farm and auto supply store to work on our garden. I usually dovetail shopping with trips to work. Garden time generated needs like a new 9-pattern spray nozzle to replace the one that began leaking, a dozen five-foot, light gauge fence posts for the garden, 100 feet of 4-foot chicken wire netting, and 50 feet of four-foot, 14 gauge, 2 x 4 welded wire fencing to make some additional tomato cages.

While there, I bought a new Stihl FS 56 R C-E loop handle trimmer. When the old, battery-powered Black and Decker trimmer broke I debated whether or not to acquire a gasoline or battery powered replacement. Two decision points. Even with two batteries the Black and Decker couldn’t trim the whole yard. Where the electricity to charge the trimmer batteries comes from is problematic.

We source electricity from the Linn County Rural Electric Cooperative and their generation partner CIPCO. More than two-thirds of electricity we use is generated by undesirable means: coal and nuclear. While the percentage of wind and solar CIPCO used increased in recent years, the Duane Arnold nuclear plant is a sore spot. The mix will change when the nuclear reactors go off line in the near future. I chose the most fuel-efficient of the Stihl line of household trimmers and expect to burn about two gallons of gasoline per season.

I stuck to my shopping lists even when I deleted the warehouse club list from my mobile device before arriving there. My mission was to find fruit. The selection of organically grown was very limited. Basically apples and bananas which both came at a premium price. I added a Dole pineapple on sale for $1.99 and a four-pound clam shell of grapes. The grapes weren’t the best — imported from Chile and treated — I won’t make that mistake again.

Finally I stopped at a large chain drug store on the way home. I go there three or four times a year to pick up personal hygiene items. The cost of razor blades has me thinking about letting my beard grow.

To acknowledge participation in consumer culture is essential. When I consider a history of my life, for good or ill, shopping has been part of it and an influence. When Father insisted on supporting César Chavez and the United Farm Workers’ grape boycott, we connected to the struggles of people who produce our food and learned a lesson about being a union family. That a gallon of milk cost $1.89 yesterday speaks volumes to the plight of family dairy farmers. That I get a discount for being employed at the home, farm and auto supply store is part of the reason I linger on into retirement.

This was my first big shopping trip of the year and may be the only one. It’s a small but important part of sustaining a life in a turbulent world.