It's time for another myth-busting post, this one about convenience. I hear this all the time: it's just not convenient to live in an urban neighborhood for people who are used to suburban living (especially moms who are driving around a van full of kids): they imagine being forced to give up their drive-thru Starbucks, Panera, strip mall shopping, and SuperTarget with the extra-large shopping carts that fit 3 kids plus a load of groceries. Well, that's a myth. Here's the truth: you don't have to give them up. This is not NYC. It is not so earth-shakingly different driving around here than in the suburbs. Being centrally located in downtown Indianapolis means it doesn't really take very long to get anywhere. From my house, it takes 4 minutes to get to the drive-thru Starbucks, about a mile away, and 10 minutes to get to SuperTarget (2 minutes to get on I-65, 8 minutes of highway driving unless you go during afternoon rush hour).
But of course living in the city means you have more diversity in your food-buying options; Pogue's Run Grocer is only 7 minutes away, our source for cheap local pastured eggs as well as local produce, meats, dairy, and various other healthy organic and local items. R2GO, an upscale deli & market, is within walking distance a few blocks away with great sandwiches, meats and cheeses, fresh bread, frozen foods and dry goods. Goose the Market is a little over a mile away, the perfect biking distance, and offers a wide range of fresh produce, specialty meats and cheeses, gelato, award-winning sandwiches and carefully selected wines. Wildwood Market in Fountain Square (7 minutes away) is another specialty market in this category, emphasizing gourmet and local products as well as healthy/gluten-free items. I love their wildflower bouquets sold in mason jars. And if you follow Wildwood on Facebook, you can expect gorgeous photos of their delicious sandwich of the day made from locally sourced ingredients on Amelia's bread. Not sure why I torture myself, since I'm currently eating paleo... but that's neither here nor there. And the farmers' market, located at historic City Market, is an absolute treasure both in summer and winter; the Indy Winter Farmers Market operates Saturdays from November through April indoors.
If those options don't appeal to you, or if you're not sure you can afford shopping at a small local market, other convenient options abound. Here's the rundown, by shortest driving times from our neighborhood in the northeast section of downtown:
Kroger = (2 blocks away, 1 minute driving) This store admittedly has some issues. The building is small and old (built 1962) and desperately in need of improvements. The aisles are narrow, the produce section is too small and they don't offer enough local and organic items to tempt me to ever go there. But I have friends who shop there all the time, and there's nothing really wrong with it.
Marsh = 3 minutes (Lockerbie location) and 4 minutes (new West Michigan Street store)
Angelo's = 6 minutes (salvage grocery, sells close-to-expiration and expired non-perishable organic items)
Safeway = 7 minutes, Garfield Park area
Aldi = 10 minutes (52nd & Keystone) and 11 minutes (Madison & Troy, south of Garfield Park)
SuperTarget = 10 minutes, Southport & Emerson
Meijer (coming 2016) = 11 minutes, 56th & Keystone
The Fresh Market = 12 minutes, 54th & College. Yes, it is pricey, but I love the classical music and unique products.
Georgetown Market = 13 minutes, Lafayette Square area
Good Earth Natural Foods = 17 minutes, Broad Ripple
Whole Foods = 20 minutes, 86th St. (Nora)
Trader Joe's = 20 minutes, 82nd St. (Castleton)
Fresh Thyme = 21 minutes, 82nd St. (Clearwater)
Okay, so if I've counted correctly, that's 18 varied grocery options within reasonable driving distance of downtown Indy; some upscale, some discount, a few big-box supercenters, some local gourmet markets, a few health food stores, and several that fall in the middle of the spectrum. Are you surprised?
And personally, I am so excited. Because in a little over a year from now, Whole Foods is COMING. To downtown Indy. (Insert the Hallelujah Chorus here.) I know it's laughably expensive, but it's the only place I can get certain brands that are both healthy/completely unprocessed and actually taste good. Like the almost-raw, grassfed, non-homogenized Kalona milk that I buy as a compromise (I'm convinced raw milk is healthier, but my conscientious medical doctor-husband has put his foot down on that issue), or the fair-trade 85% dark chocolate bars that are my favorite. I'm really not an elitist, I promise; I just care a lot about food. I save money at SuperTarget by buying certain things in bulk sizes and store brands so that I can buy healthy food for my family at Whole Foods and Pogue's Run, and sometimes I splurge at places like Wildwood or R2GO for special occasions. That's just what our family does. Yours may be totally different in your grocery habits, but you can nevertheless thrive in an urban neighborhood and city lifestyle without sacrificing convenience. Armed with this helpful information, you may now go forth and move to the city. Just kidding... or am I?