Thursday, February 19, 2009

Eating Like A King On An Artist's Budget Thanks This North Minneapolis Store!

I first heard about the So Low store from "Patty Cake," who would offer me bottles of Diet Cola when I dropped by to talk about various North Minneapolis issues, and she informed me the bottles cost a mere TWENTY-FIVE CENTS. She'd tell me I needed to check out this store and its amazing prices...she couldn't even recall what it was called, because she always referred to it as the "used food store."

The store is...

...called "So Low" and it is, I swear, the hidden jewel of North Minneapolis. Brie cheese, 99 cents. Lunchables snacks, my 11-year-old son's favorite, 99 cents. Stinson cheese with apricot or lemon guessed it, 99 cents. You can eat like a king at this place and get change off a 20. And why shouldn't you? Why shouldn't you own a house with an assessed value of $100k, which you can buy for $17,500 and have $4k in plumbing work done, then move inside, to live on Brie cheese and do whatever it is you want to do? Go to grad school, raise children, blow glass? This is the "Hawthorne Lifestyle," baby. It's creative, it's affordable, it's sustainable...and it moves ever upward, toward what the Founding Fathers called "Progress," toward Urban Eco Utopia.

A stock boy at So Low told me the food is "salvaged." I'm not sure how it works, exactly, but I think it goes something like this: somewhere an 18-wheeler is hauling a load of ice cream cones, when a dumb ass talking on a cell phone and driving at the same time cuts the trucker off while changing lanes without signaling, because his left hand is BUSY holding the phone.

The driver of the 18-wheeler takes evasive action too hard, and jack knifes on the 394. Lots of ice cream cones tragically die (the trucker walks away without a scratch, the dumb ass on his cell phone never even NOTICES the spectacular accident behind him) and now some insurance company steps into the picture.

At some point, three fourths of a cargo of perfectly good ice cream cones falls into the hands of wholesalers who routinely deal in such salvaged cargo. And that cargo makes its way to North Minneapolis to be sold for pennies on the dollar at So LOW!!!!! Your bargain price leader! It's located near the intersection of Emerson Ave. N. and Lowry Ave. N., in the Jordan Neighborhood. But BARELY!!! Just BARELY!!!! If you buy a snack at the checkout line and start walking with it, you could be in Hawthorne before getting your snack unwrapped.

If I had known about this place all my life, I may have never taken up the practice of dumpster diving used bananas with hot women like Connie Nompelis on Valentine's Day.

Side note: if I was on a Dell computer right now, instead of a piece of (expletive) Apple, I would create some live links to a few good trucking songs on YouTube. But since I'm on a SUCKY APPLE COMPUTER, you will just have to hum "Convoy" without any background music.

"It was the dark of the moon, on the 6th of June..."


Anonymous said...

I have always wondered about these salvage stores and food safety. We get salmonella and other lethal stuff in the regular food production chain. It seems like there are fewer checks and accountability in the post date/salvage market but you never hear about people getting sick/dying from bad food there. Day old bread is one thing but processed food and food that requires refrigeration is a whole other thing. Now natural cheeses don't really require refrigeration. Pasteurized cheese food product on the other hand...

Also it would be better if bargain urban food didn't involve so much cheap crap processed food that the upmarket people have pretty much rejected anyway due to health reasons.

Not trying to rain on your parade or your bargain idea. People gotta eat something

JNS Reader said...

If you hate Apples so much, how come you're so frequently stuck using one? If you explain the issue you're having, perhaps we can help - they're actually a very pleasant user experience, once you get used to the fact that some of the keys are slightly different, which is I suspect the problem...

kanoyes said...

Hey John,

How does it compare with the famed Bent and Dent of Appleton?, MN?

I'm not not eve going to go there with the Apple comment.

As far as food safety, such discount food stores bascailly the same as the average supermarket. The supermarkets however dress it up with lights and waxes, hiding the fact that most food that has to travel a long distance has been sullied in someway. But hey, what's peanut butter without that salty tinge of poo?

veg*nation said...

the most inexpensive way of eating is also the healthiest way of eating:

a) cutting back on processed foods. it's ridiculous to hear someone complaining that organic vegetables are too expensive, when you can see frozen waffles and cigarettes in their shopping bag! :)

b) following a traditional diet from some part of the world: indigenous diets are often nutritionally balanced in very sophisticated ways--and when's the last time you heard of someone going broke on rice, beans, and bell peppers?

Megan G. said...

Johnny in all fairness to your readers I think now that you have covered the So Low grocery, you are obligated to cover the other end of the grocery spectrum - Jordan neighbor's family owned grocery store - Local D'lish - it is in the North Loop neighborhood and owned by one of our very own Jordan neighbors. - the website doesn't do the store itself any justice. Plus every third saturday (tomorrow) she is hosting a Winter's Farmers Market. check it out.

Johnny Northside said...

To the first anonymous: a longer reply about food safety later. In summary: it's not an issue for ME and too much of an issue for others.

To JNS Reader: because the only way I could get a laptop last year was with student aid, and the stupid University bookstore only sells Apples, so that's what I'm stuck with when I'm away from the campus which--surprise, surprise--is smart enough to use something BESIDES Apples.

Yes, some of the keys are different. Have you seen that parody of Apple computers on The Onion dot com? Where they get rid of the keyboard and just have a WHEEL? That parody video says all I want to say about Apples.

To Karl: the famed Bent and Dent is actually in Hancock, Minnesota, but not so far from Appleton.

Johnny Northside said...

Here's that longer reply I promised to the first anonymous commenter:

You are, in fact, raining on my parade but it's a substantive discussion. I've never had a problem with any of the food purchased there. From my point of view, food salvaged from a truck accident is no different, than, for example, food that gets set down roughly on the loading dock. And THAT happens all the time.

The minds of the American public are filled with a lot of fear about the safety of food, and that's why anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of useful food goes to the dumpster, and that doesn't even count CROP WASTE. That figure comes straight from the Department of Agriculture.

Vegetables grow in the DIRT. Filthy animals full of feces are slain in a bloody way to make MEAT. Food is produced by a DIRTY PROCESS and it has been ever so: to live in filth is the very nature of a carbon based life form. The most you can hope for is to be orderly, be as clean as you can, and think pure thoughts.

I am going to promote, promote, promote this place and--I'm stating this for the record, here--this will be the last post I will allow stating any kind of fears about food safety at bargain food stores. I will eat anything at that store--in front of a camera, if necessary--like Thomas Jefferson once ate an eggplant to prove to the masses that eggplants are NOT poison, despite their sinister appearance.

I also want to add this: So Low has a very adequate produce section with fresh fruits and veggies. Sometimes a truck full of spinach will ALSO jack knife on the 394.

Anonymous said...

If dirt was the only thing we had to be worried about, then yes, worrying about that would be stupid. The problem is that many of our worst food safety problems aren't "natural" they stem from large scale ag and food processing with poor quality control and inspection. That's what happened in the peanut butter case. A little dirt might actually be good for us. A little salmonella or lysteria, not so much.

I agree, a lot of food is wasted but if it's tossed at a store, it's because the owner of the food doesn't want the liability of poisoning somebody which can cost millions. Some take the risk, as kanoyes suggested. USDA and FDA base their rules on when food can't be sold with statistical models of when food is likely to go bad and under what conditions. Does that mean that "good" food gets thrown away? Sure it does. But so does bad food. As an individual you are free to calculate your personal risk as you like but the state and federal food safety rules have to cover the risk for every consumer, not just you.

With computer monitoring of delivery trucks nowadays, maybe they can salvage more quickly than they used to. In that case, maybe they do OK with handling the food on its way to your store.

Johnny Northside said...

Now you're just spreading false information, because there is something called the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donations Act which would protect the store from liability for donating the food instead of tossing it.

But I can't really blame you for your, um, ignorance.

The law was passed during the Clinton Administration, and was promoted a little right after passage. Then the Monica Lewinsky scandal happened. This law--which should have taken our American culture by storm, and been on the lips constantly of every store and restaurant owner in the US--languishes in obscurity.

But, hey, I just promoted it in a blog comment so perhaps EVERYTHING will change. (Sarcasm font is broken, notifying the reader manually)

Anonymous said...

You should have seen the prices about a year ago! Since then their prices jumped a lot (like a 50% increase), but its still OK. Just remember not all their food is better priced than a regular supermarket. When the big guys have sales, its because they're a massive corperation that can. You won't see weekly specials at solo. That aside, I've been shopping there for years and continue to. Also anyone who gets scared by the expiration dates being, well, expired, worry not. A lot of the food like lunch meat is frozen for a period of time (I assume right when salvaged) then thawed when they put it out for sale. Ask for a flier on assorted meat packages, good stuff if you got an extra freezer.

Ranty said...