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Heather
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Bad: Picking up a package of Whole Foods premade meatballs to make a quick dinner for the kids and getting them home to find the supposed fresh meatballs are turned. Bleah. They well within the "sell by" date. Ordinarily they would go straight back to the store, but it was 5:30, I had already dragged both kids to the store once and wasn't going to do it twice in one day. Into the trash.

Also bad: Food Lion. Nothing specific, just Food Lion. The one near my house seems to be managed by Carny rejects.

Good: fish guys at Gaithersburg Whole Foods who are as nice as can be.

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Good -- some of the deals to be had on produce at Snider's, as well as their pickles and sausage. Plus I just like supporting the independent guy (within reason).

TJ's for tortillas, pistachios, coffee, cereal. Whole Foods butcher counter in SS but $$$

The Safeway on Shady Grove Rd in Rockville where I get my lunch at least twice a week.

Thai Market on Thayer in SS -- source of blindingly hot Thai bird chiles

Bad -- the almost criminal produce prices at Whole Paycheck

Just about all the Safeway's near my house.

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The good: For any of you who shop at Sam's Club - they have a little-known policy (at least the one in Annapolis does) that if any fresh produce or fresh meats are returned for good reason, the customer receives double their money back. It has to be for a quality reason, but quantity doesn't seem to matter - they honored the policy when I returned a bag of potatoes because one was rotten. I told them I didn't expect a double refund, just wanted an exchange, but they gave it to me anyway.

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Also bad: Food Lion. Nothing specific, just Food Lion. The one near my house seems to be managed by Carny rejects.

Oh, jeez...<ROTFLMAO> I thought I was the only one who suspected...

In order to work at Food Lion in Frederick, you need to pathologically freindly, I mean like WAY beyond socially acceptable levels, and you must not have any teeth. You see, the union passed a rule limiting the number of teeth possessed by the non-management staff to not more than 10 collectivley, and since Earl, Earl, and Bubba each have one, and Lisa and Crystal have two each, and Lynnette, the head cashier has three, there's no more room.

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Good: the produce and the people who work in that section at the Whole Foods at Wisconsin and Albemarle. Although they sometimes start off with that deer-in-the-headlights look when you first approach with a question, they subsequently reveal themselves to be not only friendly, but also knowledgable.

Bad: anything supposedly fresh at the Connecticut/Veazy Giant. The way some of the check out employees talk to each other without once acknowledging me the customer except to take the money out of my hand. The long, long lines.

Bad: that I can't escape the Social Safeway without spending <$75, even when I go in "just for one thing."

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It isnt?? :P No wonder mine always tastes a bit "off". :wub:

OK, time to admit a stupid mistake. I buy stuff like cream of tartar and arrowroot and such in bulk at the Yes! Gourmet store just up the street and put it in whatever jars are handy around here. I have long had a jar, which originally contained marinated artichoke hearts, with cream of tartar labelled with masking tape. Fast Forward: the masking tape has long since fallen off and I went to turn a pint of blueberries into a sauce for ice cream. Yes, you guessed it: I thought the jar contained arrowroot and wondered why the stuff wasn't thickening at all. (Where's the emoticon for a DOPE SLAP?). Since it didn't taste of anything particularly odd, I just added some diluted arrowroot, once I realized my mistake. Coulda been worse. Also coulda tasted "fresher." We didn't die eating it and Craig didn't complain (although he may have considered it if he knew what I had done to those nice blueberries he brought home.)

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A trip out to Han Ah Reum yesterday (Aug. 24) proved to be a major bummer. A half gallon of skim milk, pull-dated September 3 was completely curdled when opened last night. Early this evening, I went to prepare six fresh duck legs, pull-dated August 29, and they were off. A twenty-minute bath in acidulated water did not remedy the problem. I carry a cooler with blue ice in my car for summer shopping trips, so it was not me. Drive all the way out to Merrifield from DC to confront them with their rotten duck for a $12 refund, or fuggedaboutit? Factoring in time and the cost of gas, I decided on the latter. My husband wants me never to go there again. Well, the new Great Wall supermarket down the road from HAR looks like it's just about ready to open. Maybe they'll sell fresh duck there... sigh.

Your comment raises a general issue.

I spend lots of time in Asian, Latino, African, etc stores. IMO it is always wise to exercise extra caution in any of the local "ethnic" markets. There are tremendous buys to be had, but also perils, especially obviously with perishables and even, it appears, with packaged, pull-dated items.

I think the employees/managers in these places often perhaps are newly-arrived and are still accustomed to the way things are done in the old country. If you've ever toured markets in these places (I'm a market freak and love those places) you may know what I mean. Big corporations like Giant and WF know about strong food handling codes, and litigation, and have a different corporate culture--they don't (as an example) leave milk out of the chiller for very long, whether it be in the trucks, the distribution center, or the store. Of course you pay for all that infrastructure. Han Ah Reum has less infrastructure and, let's face it, less employee training, not to mention less "sanitation culture"--one walk through the store makes that clear. Grand Mart is even worse IMO. In all these and other such stores you pay less, but when buying fresh items especially you need to be extra careful.

As the last of the cheapo bargain-hunters I'm an enthusiastic HAR shopper. I avoid GM generally, tho some have said some of their stores are OK.

I would add that HAR's Super H Division, which was set up to appeal more to the western shopper, is I think generally much better. My impression is one has a greater liklihood of not having problems there. While it's a long drive for many of us to the local Super H outpost, it's conventiently located near Wegmans Fairfax store, and thus is a great shopping-crawl opportunity.

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Big corporations like Giant and WF know about strong food handling codes, and litigation, and have a different corporate culture--they don't (as an example) leave milk out of the chiller for very long, whether it be in the trucks, the distribution center, or the store.

That's usually true for things like milk and meats (thank goodness, because I'm cheap and love to hit Giant's meat section midweek to grab discounted meat). However, I check pull dates on everything that has pull dates, and have regularly found other expired items in those big corporate supermarkets. The last thing I found was, of all things, Pounce cat treats that were several months past their use-by date. The manager didn't even know cat treats had use-by dates on them.

I shop at HAR's Wheaton branch weekly - I'm wary of the dairy section, but at least I can use my nose to make sure the seafood is fresh.

Attention White Oak Super Fresh: If you have vast amounts of shelf space to fill, why not try this new concept called variety? Does it make sense for a huge supermarket to carry ONE lousy brand of cocoa powder, and only in regular process? Does it make sense that I have to go to our tiny Calverton Giant instead - that's maybe 1/3 the size of your store - in order to get Dutch-process cocoa? Or diet Canada Dry ginger ale in cans? And why don't you carry chicken gizzards on a regular basis? Don't you know I'm addicted to the damn things? And why does your milk go bad so quickly?

Okay, I feel better now.

Edited by perrik
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While you make a good point, johnb, notice the many times people have posted about problems at Whole Foods. Myself, I just purchased last week at WFM, 2 Portofino "salad in the bag" as they were on special 2/$5. Sell by date Aug 28. Opened pkg 1 yesterday, and the lettuce was all wet and slimy. :P Pkg 2 does not look promising, either.

(I even had a cooler with me last Sunday when I purchased the salads, since I was bringing home fresh seafood)

This is not the first time I've had problems at Whole Foods...when will I learn?

Well, I'd be the last one to be out here flacking for Whole Paycheck--I hate those prices, and most everything else about the place drives me crazy too. But you gotta admire their ability to separate fools from their money. Safeway at least pulls their nearly expired meats fairly frequently and puts cents off stickers all over it. That's what I usually look for at the Safeway meat case--sometimes you get a good deal--depends on the whim of the clerk who puts on the stickers.

It's a jungle out there.

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And why don't you carry chicken gizzards on a regular basis? Don't you know I'm addicted to the damn things? And why does your milk go bad so quickly?

Okay, I feel better now.

FYI --

The Langley Park Giant (tucked in behind other stores at the intersection of Flower and Piney Branch) has one of the more, shall we say, eclectic meat selections I've ever seen in a chain supermarket. I'd bet that you can find chicken gizzards there, not to mention some of the biggest pig feet around.

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FYI --

The Langley Park Giant (tucked in behind other stores at the intersection of Flower and Piney Branch) has one of the more, shall we say, eclectic meat selections I've ever seen in a chain supermarket. I'd bet that you can find chicken gizzards there, not to mention some of the biggest pig feet around.

The Giant on 9th Street NW (near...M Street, I think) is similar. Humongous pigs feet as well as the entire Goya product line.
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With our recent move, the Italian Store in Arlington is now our local deli. Bought some ham, soppresata, and proscuitto last night to pack for lunch sandwiches. I chose the proscuitto San Danielle which I've never purchased or eaten before and it was wonderful! Soft, meltingly fatty, great flavor. Awesome paired with a fresh crusty baguette from Banh Mi So 1 in Eden Center.

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Seen this morning at Bethesda Balduccis: employee picking up an item of produce from the floor and carefully placing it back in the display, right in front of me. Yes, I wash everything when I get home, but come on. At least don't do that in front of the customer.

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it is deep rooted. but apparently i care about the store getting the prices right considerably more than the store does.

For certain, I know that both Giant and Harris Teeter will give you the item for free if it rings up incorrectly. Every couple of weeks seems rather infrequent for a person to come into WF to correct prices given that the regular supermarkets seem to have handheld scanners so that they can change it on the spot.

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Once at the Balducci's in Old Town, I was buying a tin of cocoa nibs. The tin had a price sticker on them, and there had been other tins on the shelf with the same price. At the cashier, the tin's UPC code rang up at a higher price, like one or two more dollars. I pointed out the discrepancy to the cashier and pointed at the price sticker, and her response was to start peeling the sticker off the tin! I took the tin from her and went to find a manager. I found someone (not sure if it was a manager) and explained the situation and that this tin and others had this lower price sticker. The person explained to the cashier that she had to charge me the price on the sticker. :)

Edited by cheezepowder
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Giant, I am happy--well, not happy, but whatever--to know that I just don't have rotten luck that this keeps happening to me. Do you remember when the P Street WF first opened? Once, when I got home, I discovered that the bagger had left out a loaf of bread. I called to check on it, and the manager said, "Yes, I'm so glad you called! We have it right here. Do you live nearby? May I send a young man to your apartment to give it to you?"

Wow! What service! What consideration!

Now, I come home to find not only my bread missing, but double and triple charged for some things. Last time, it totaled about $7. I called and they told me I had to come back that night. "No because I'm miles away, I have no car, and it's 8 at night. I'll come tomorrow."

The next day, the woman takes my reciept and refunds my double cole slaw, my double chicken, my double tuna... Wait. I actually bought three cans of tuna. "I thought you said you wanted a refund," she accuses. Sigh.

In the end, she accidentally RE-charged it all to my credit card TWICE, removed it three times, and then pulled me out of the checkout line 15 minutes later because she'd neglected to get my name and address.

What a difference five years makes.

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Giant, I am happy--well, not happy, but whatever--to know that I just don't have rotten luck that this keeps happening to me. Do you remember when the P Street WF first opened? Once, when I got home, I discovered that the bagger had left out a loaf of bread. I called to check on it, and the manager said, "Yes, I'm so glad you called! We have it right here. Do you live nearby? May I send a young man to your apartment to give it to you?"

Wow! What service! What consideration!

Now, I come home to find not only my bread missing, but double and triple charged for some things. Last time, it totaled about $7. I called and they told me I had to come back that night. "No because I'm miles away, I have no car, and it's 8 at night. I'll come tomorrow."

The next day, the woman takes my reciept and refunds my double cole slaw, my double chicken, my double tuna... Wait. I actually bought three cans of tuna. "I thought you said you wanted a refund," she accuses. Sigh.

In the end, she accidentally RE-charged it all to my credit card TWICE, removed it three times, and then pulled me out of the checkout line 15 minutes later because she'd neglected to get my name and address.

What a difference five years makes.

this sounds worse than anything that has happened to me. last night, the bagger did neglect to include a big hunk of chocolate i had purchased, but word got around that i was standing at the customer service counter waiting to speak to the manager, so he was able to locate me before i had left the store. i felt that he was on my side. anyway, tonight i am going to try the upper georgetown branch, which is actually closer to home but not convenient to work. i need some time before i return to p street.

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While we're piling on, let me chime in with my frustrations with Wegman's in Sterling. Lately it seems that I can't go to the store looking for more than five items without not beign able to find one.

And I'm not talking about obscure items. Italian parsley. Leeks. Ham hocks. Diet Sprite.

C'mon. This place takes up half the land in Loudoun County and sells ten types of fresh mushrooms. Can't I get some parsley?

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C'mon.  This place takes up half the land in Loudoun County and sells ten types of fresh mushrooms.  Can't I get some parsley?

Italian flat-leaf parsley? I know they carry it (having bought it there previously, and fairly recently), so they may have just been out.

Most of the time when I can't find things there, though, it's because they've gotten clever with shifting items around, or locating them in really odd places. I don't expect them to necessarily copy Giant's floor plan, but I can tell you most stores don't locate tomato products halfway across the store from the other canned vegetal matter.

Edited by Principia
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Italian flat-leaf parsley? I know they carry it (having bought it there previously, and fairly recently), so they may have just been out.

I know - I've bought it there dozens of times. In fact they ususally carry all of those items. They were out of the parsley on at least two different occasions in the last month during prime shopping hours. They just fill in the space with more cilantro or spinach.

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They just fill in the space with more cilantro or spinach.

Yeah, and then your SO comes back from the store with cilantro, unable to discern the difference between cilantro and flat leaf parsley. :) You decide to start looking at a different set of cookbooks, because cilantro will never work with what you had planned! :o
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Did anyone see Supermarket Sweep on Dateline last night? I never watch this show, so of course the one I catch in my lifetime is about unsanitary grocery store conditions. Guess which national chain is the most life-threatening?

That's right! It's Safeway with an average of 25 critical violations per 10 inspections! (A critical violation is one that can result in sickness for the consumer.)

Back to the farmers' markets for this gal...

1)  Safeway. Finally, in the spot no store wants to be number one in Dateline’s “Supermarket Sweep?” Safeway.

For every 10 inspections, Safeway stores received 25 critical violations— on average, two and a half critical violations for each inspection.

The biggest problem, according to inspectors? Temperature violations. For instance, “Dateline” recently found this Safeway in D.C. selling fried chicken that wasn’t hot enough to keep bacteria from growing.  And over two visits, “Dateline” also found dirty floors, broken packages of meat, and the store itself in a state of disrepair with wires hanging from the ceiling of the produce section.

We should mention that 25 percent of the stores in our survey had no critical violations at all in 2004.

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Apologies if I said the same thing upthread, but I really miss the Giant at Veazey and Connecticut (which is closed long-term for renovations). *sigh* It was a garbage supermarket, but I now have an appreciation for being able to stop there on my way home for a jug of water, a box of pasta, etc.

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Only appropriate that your post should have come after the one regarding 'critical violations.' That Giant always looked to me like it was 1 violation away from being shut down (although i do appreciate the convenience factor you say you miss).

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No question - it was disgusting. I would never buy, say, a prepared chicken from that Giant even if I were heading home from work really, really late and feeling famished. Most of the produce was so bad you couldn't even say "it's seen better days."

A jug of spring water, a carefully-inspected pound of butter and in a pinch, dry pasta (I would shake it first to inspect the box's constitution, watching for critters in the clear plastic window :) ).

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The new Giant, with its Stop & Shop layout, just doesn't do it for me. Maybe it's flashbacks to being dragged by my mother to the Pawtucket Stop & Shop circa 1965,

I have flashbacks from Stop & Shop, too, only the one in North Kingstown circa 1979! We also had an Almac's nearby, if you remember that Rhode Island wonder...

I think Giant is actually worse, and I only go when I am desperate.

:lol:

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I have flashbacks from Stop & Shop, too, only the one in North Kingstown circa 1979! We also had an Almac's nearby, if you remember that Rhode Island wonder...

I think Giant is actually worse, and I only go when I am desperate.

:lol:

LOL funny you should mention Almac's (or as my cousin called it, "the Almac"). My brother and I were just this past weekend talking about a cool feature of our local Almac's (on East Ave in Pawtucket): After your groceries got bagged, they were put in a box on a slow-moving conveyor belt made of ball bearings (or casters, whatever you call those things). While you went and got your car, your groceries would toddle down the belt to a hole in the wall where they would proceed outside, hang a uey, and arrive at the end of the belt just as you drove up. Really quite ingenious. Us kids loved it. :huh:

Our other local grocery store was the Big G. Remember that one?

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LOL funny you should mention Almac's (or as my cousin called it, "the Almac"). My brother and I were just this past weekend talking about a cool feature of our local Almac's (on East Ave in Pawtucket): After your groceries got bagged, they were put in a box on a slow-moving conveyor belt made of ball bearings (or casters, whatever you call those things). While you went and got your car, your groceries would toddle down the belt to a hole in the wall where they would proceed outside, hang a uey, and arrive at the end of the belt just as you drove up. Really quite ingenious. Us kids loved it. :lol:

Yes! The Giant in Calverton had that back in the 1970s, and I always loved going grocery shopping with my mom because of the endless parade of grocery bags. Very cool. They did bring back the big barrel o' pickles, so maybe they'll reinstall the conveyor belt as well. One can only dream the little dreams...

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Sad state of affairs: bad produce sections at the Giant on Wisconsin and Newark (I think it's Newark) and the Whole Foods on River Road. I had thought I could get decent carrots somewhere. <_<

The Giant at Connecticut and Veazey seems poised to reopen. I wonder if the store's wares will improve or if the overhaul was strictly cosmetic.

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Dear Moms Who Use Double Wide Strollers,

When you are standing and talking to your friend who also uses a double wide and another friend who is also pushing a double wide comes over and creates a pyramid therefor blocking the exit at Whole Foods please do not give me dirty looks when I politely say "Excuse me."

Sincerely,

Just want to get home and cook my artichoke

ps It may only be visible to tired people who piss off mothers who use double wides, but there is a new and improved bulk section where the water used to be. Which leaves this question: how am I supposed to buy the cool new reusable water bottle if it is located past the checkout line?

Edited by hillvalley
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Actually, I think folks drive their carts worse than they drive their cars.

I never really thought about this until someone I worked with mentioned the "Stroller People." The real kicker for me was when we went to the Phillips Gallery for the last day of the "Impressionists in Winter" exhibit on a day which was actually snowy. Some Yahoo was pushing a gigantic stroller around, and getting in everybody's way, which didn't actually contain a baby of any kind. What the hell's up with that?
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Some Yahoo was pushing a gigantic stroller around, and getting in everybody's way, which didn't actually contain a baby of any kind.  What the hell's up with that?

Spouse of Yahoo was probably up ahead with munchkin in tow, while Yahoo pushed the stroller with the stuff in it. Ms. DanielK and I used to do this all the time.

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Sad state of affairs: bad produce sections at the Giant on Wisconsin and Newark (I think it's Newark) and the Whole Foods on River Road. I had thought I could get decent carrots somewhere. :)

The Giant at Connecticut and Veazey seems poised to reopen. I wonder if the store's wares will improve or if the overhaul was strictly cosmetic.

I agree that the produce section at the Whole Foods on River Road was very, very disappointing. Are there other stores in the area that have better produce? Late last night, I drove the 10 minutes from River Road over to the Whole Foods in Tenleytown, and I gotta say, it seemed a lot better... Am I just projecting?

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Can I just mention again how mad I am that Food Lion has stopped carrying Duke's mayo?  :)

Is that Food Lion throughout the area, or just one particular Food Lion? I know it's not all Food Lions in the world, as all the Food Lions I used to visit in North Carolina (until last week I was sort of living down there) carry it. I'd have to say actually that every grocery store in NC carries it, not that that does you much good here. Is there a reliable source of Duke mayonnaise in this area? There is an excellent alternative, though. Trader Joe's house brand of mayonnaise is, if anything, even better than Duke's. Oh, and Food Lion sucks.

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Is that Food Lion throughout the area, or just one particular Food Lion?

Just the Food Lion in Rockville that's a quarter mile from my house. It was vitually the only thing I bought there.

Some Giants have Dukes, but it's a pretty small jar.

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Those of you who have/are getting a Wegman's have me green with envy. I'm still waiting for the Adams Morgan Harris Teeter, which can't open soon enough for me.

The Columbia Road Safeway is REALLY going downhill. Yesterday took the cake, all the way from waiting at the Seafood counter (because the advertised bags of frozen shrimp were not in stock), while some snooty supervisor was humiliating some poor man behind the counter. I guess she thought my time was less valuable than hers. Then, unload my stuff at the express lane, only to be told that only cash or a check could be used there. Then get a cashier who goes off and does other stuff instead of checking the customers out.

Repeat after me: Harris Teeter, Harris Teeter . . . :)

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Those of you who have/are getting a Wegman's have me green with envy.  I'm still waiting for the Adams Morgan Harris Teeter, which can't open soon enough for me.

The Columbia Road Safeway is REALLY going downhill.  Yesterday took the cake, all the way from waiting at the Seafood counter (because the advertised bags of frozen shrimp were not in stock), while some snooty supervisor was humiliating some poor man behind the counter. I guess she thought my time was less valuable than hers.  Then, unload my stuff at the express lane, only to be told that only cash or a check could be used there.  Then get a cashier who goes off and does other stuff instead of checking the customers out.

Repeat after me:  Harris Teeter, Harris Teeter . . . :)

You'll like Harris Teeter. We dumped a brand new Giant in South Riding in favor of HT a couple miles down the road in Stone Ridge as soon as it opened.

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I used to shop at Whole Foods regularly, and I go to the one in Rockville. I have to say that I think they're going downhill as well. The meat now carries their own label, so it is unclear if its Bell and Evans or Coleman or something else. I will definitely have to check out MOM's more regularly.

I cannot say enough good things about the fish/shellfish at Black Salt and the prices are very reasonable for the quality. This Xmas Eve, we hosted and did the 7 fishes (well, for us, it was more 5). We bought 2 lbs. shrimp for shrimp cocktail; cocktail sauce; 1 lb jumbo lump crabmeat; 1 whole rockfish (3 to 4 lbs); 2 lbs. of rockfish file; 4 lbs. mussels; and I believe 2 lbs of clams (may have been more). $150! This is how much my father-in-law paid in the Bronx in the 70's! Not to mention that all of this fed our guests on Xmas Eve, but me and my husband for 2 weeks running!

As for produce: we participated in our first winter Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription this winter, and if you like greens I highly recommend it. We couldn't believe the quality of the stuff we were getting during the winter. Now I can't buy greens at any store--only from our farmer or from another farmer at the Farmer's Markets.

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OK, I have a question, and please forgive me if it has been asked and answered before, but I do not have hours to search the site. :)

Aside from Whole Foods, what are your preferred sources for fresh, fresh fish and other seafood? I like what I can get at Whole Foods but I cringe at the prices. I am hoping there is an excellent and well priced fresh fishmonger out there, ideally on the Maryland side of the Potomac, that I can investigate.

Well?

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OK, I have a question, and please forgive me if it has been asked and answered before, but I do not have hours to search the site. :)

Aside from Whole Foods, what are your preferred sources for fresh, fresh fish and other seafood? I like what I can get at Whole Foods but I cringe at the prices. I am hoping there is an excellent and well priced fresh fishmonger out there, ideally on the Maryland side of the Potomac, that I can investigate.

Well?

For low prices, you've got to shop in the Asian markets. Not sure about their locations in MD, cause I shop at Han ah Reum or Great Wall in Merrifield, VA or Super H in Fairfax. Caveat emptor, but you can find good stuff cheap if you shop with care.

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OK, I have a question, and please forgive me if it has been asked and answered before, but I do not have hours to search the site. :)

Aside from Whole Foods, what are your preferred sources for fresh, fresh fish and other seafood? I like what I can get at Whole Foods but I cringe at the prices. I am hoping there is an excellent and well priced fresh fishmonger out there, ideally on the Maryland side of the Potomac, that I can investigate.

Well?

Try the Grand Mart on Muddy Branch Road in Gaithersburg, and the Kam Sam Supermarket on North Washington Street in Rockville.
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For low prices, you've got to shop in the Asian markets. Not sure about their locations in MD, cause I shop at Han ah Reum or Great Wall in Merrifield, VA or Super H in Fairfax. Caveat emptor, but you can find good stuff cheap if you shop with care.
MD locations... along with the two already mentioned, try Han Ah Reum and Korean Korner in Wheaton, and Lotte in Wheaton or Rockville.
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