Congratulations to the Austin community on a successful boycott! We did it without a single march. We did it without an e-mail or flyer. In fact, the boycott was so successful, we did it without even having to tell each other to so do!
What boycott, you ask? The successful boycott of Grand Mart International Food Store.
If you’re not familiar with the store, that’s even better. That means you boycotted it without even thinking about it. But to refresh your memory, Grand Mart International (that name is a joke) moved into Washington Square Plaza, replacing Cub Foods.
First off, they called themselves “international.” Yet I never found a food product section featuring African-American foods. Not a single Glory food product was on their shelves. That was an immediate message to me that the only thing international they saw in this community was the color of our money. And boy did we let our refusal to spend money in that store speak volumes!
I went into Grand Mart only once. That was on its grand opening day. It took me less than a minute to see every insult that was being heaped upon us. Cub Foods had a staff that was 90 percent black and represented what our community looks like. Grand Mart had somehow managed to hire all Hispanics along with one black cashier and one black to get the carts. Insulting? You damn right! They had also invited La Ley Radio station and not WGCI or V103. Was that an additional insult? Yup!
Lastly, they filled their shelves with Korean products covered in Korean writing. Now it’s not like we have a huge Korean population in our neighborhood. So the phrase, “What were they thinking?” quickly came to mind as I searched for a Snickers bar and only found Korean snacks of Wasabi Green Peas.
I was at Alderman Emma Mitts’ town hall meeting last Thursday. There was just a brief mention of what new store will come into that location. The corner of Cicero and North avenues is an intersection of two state roads. So any store placed in that location is a flagship representation of our community. In a couple of months, the new $425,000 houses of Galewood Crossings will be finished. We have a wonderful new movie theater. So as we become more upscale, we need businesses that reflect that new attitude. And I was quite proud of my alderman when she said she, too, wanted a store that would be a step up from the Grand Mart experience. She mentioned Leamington Foods as a possibility.
Me? My initial vision of a “step up” food store would be one owned by blacks. If not, then at least an Ultra, Food 4 Less or Strack and Van Til where we can have employment that helps us to say in this community. The latter store took over the Cub Food location at Elston and Diversey. Their prices were fair, the store and produce sections were beautiful, and the staff was great. I am not big on wanting to buy boxes of meat. In today’s world, I want to know the kind of cow my beef came from. I would rather pay extra money and get a decent piece of meat as opposed to not knowing where the meat came from and what hormones it has been shot up with.
I know that I said I would make one column a month about food. I’ve heard from several people who made the biscuit recipe. One woman is now blaming me for her voluptuous hips as she and several other relatives enjoyed doing the biscuits that way so much they ate several cans.
For anyone who missed that recipe, it’s very simple and I will repeat it:
Buy any inexpensive can of biscuits. Melt about 1/3 stick of butter (not margarine) in the microwave. Dip the biscuits in the butter before placing them in the pan, pour the remaining butter over them and let them rise on top of the stove a few minutes. Bake according to the package direction. I suggest doubling the recipe because-as I proved the other morning-I can eat an entire can myself, slathered in peach butter.
Peach butter? Yes, it’s like apple butter but made with peaches. I find it at the farmers’ market in Daley Center and with my biscuits, it’s like a peach cobbler.
Lastly, this year I am going to try and can from my garden. I already have an abundance of pickling cucumbers. And if the number of blossoms on the vine is any indication of what the real harvest will bring, then everyone who knows me better be prepared to start getting pickles.
Remember, if you have a favorite recipe and want to share it with the neighborhood, send it in to me.