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Dec 30, 2011 03:43 PM

Perplexed by lack of food availability.

I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which has a population of about 350 000 people. I love to experiment as I cook, and my family usually enjoys the results. Save for the odd fresh herb or two, I can usually get ahold of pretty much any grocery item I would like, often in the regular grocery store. However, I often see posts from people in cities that I believe are a lot bigger than mine, asking for advice on where to find something.

Do you suppose that either :
a) my little city has better than average access to food?
b) a lot of people unfamiliar with unusual items stumble up CH in their search for an item and rightfully think this would be a great spot to ask for advice?
c) some other reason I'm just no thinking of?

This is in no way a criticism of any of you or your cities :). I'm just curious!

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  1. c) some other reason :)

    For example, I asked earlier this year about quail eggs. Not exotic, just not carried at the the several main neighborhood stores I stop by. Rather than drive in a 25-50 mile radius searching every store in the 6 million-person+ metroplex, I asked for knowledgeable suggestions. Saves time and effort. Using the hive mind for personal gain lol.

    4 Replies
    1. re: DuchessNukem

      ha, it's sad, I just looked for the "like" button when I read "using the hive mind for personal gain." It's true, though. With our brains combined, there is nothing we can't do :P I DO use chow for that a lot... I could search endlessly driving around, or come on here and ask! I also get tons of information along with the asking, so it's a win-win.

      1. re: kubasd23

        Oh dear yes, I do that too: look for the "Like" button on Chowhound! I felt privately foolish but now since you've come clean I can take comfort in the solidarity!

        1. re: 64airstream

          When the time comes that the Chowhound website integrates itself with Facebook is the time when I delist myself from Chowhound.

          1. re: John E.

            Always good to have a backup plan.

    2. LIke the OP, I usually find what I need in my usual supermarket - although I also choose to shop at the farmers market and, from time to time, at one of the nearby "ethnic" shops.

      FWIW, I live in a smallish borough (300K population) in north west England.

      1. Supermarkets cater to their local clientel. We live in a very rural village and the nearest place to shop is a working-class market town where the local store devotes practically an entire isle to tinned beans in tomato sauce and carries lots of ready-made sauces and the like, but try to find a staple like polenta or even mustard seed and you're plumb out of luck! Go a few miles away to a more "up-market" town and the choice increases greatly, but still depends on the make-up of the population, i.e. ethic diversity, culture, etc. So, product availability depends on the client base served by the shops and what people cook (or don't). Shops carry what sells and has a good turnover. Speciality shops, markets and good-ol' mail order help us fill the many gaps...and it pays to plan ahead and be flexible!

        1. It can take time for people to figure out where to buy these things - I live in a somewhat rural (and very Quebecois) area of Quebec, 40 minutes from Montreal, and it took me 7 months to find quinoa. LOL. I lived an hour from Vancouver and never had trouble with the rare ingredients. Ethnically homogeneous cities with an older population are especially difficult for the rarities.

          1. I'm in the metro DC area. There are so many shopping options here, it is sometimes easier to ask a savvy CH than to drive all over the place in search of the item, especially if it is something rather unusual (your item b). I am pretty sure almost every ingredient known to humankind is here.....I just haven't run across them all yet.