What Doesn’t Kill You…

This makes me kind of sad.

Inspired by Alison Cook’s recent article on the Houston Department of Health and Human Services’ new online health inspection reports site, I set about researching some of my favorite restaurants.  Inevitably, the restaurant that I just raved about yesterday was also temporarily closed due to health code violations last year:

brenda-violation.gif

Call it living dangerously if you will, but this isn’t going to keep me from going to Brenda’s.  I figure that if their numerous health code violations haven’t killed or hospitalized me by now, I have no reason to stop eating their delicious, delicious food.

So which is it, guys and gals:  Have I built up an immunity to/tolerance of dangerous bacteria from my years of eating at questionable holes-in-the-wall?  Or am I tempting fate with my callous disregard of health code violations and will ultimately be doomed to contract salmonella from an innocent-looking taco and die a painful death as a result of my hubris?

I’m hoping for immunity, obviously.

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Save Money, Live Better? Doubtful.

As if we needed any, here’s additional proof that some Houstonians don’t have an ounce of sense when it comes to grocery shopping:

New No. 1: Wal-Mart bags top grocery spot

Wal-Mart Supercenters have overtaken Kroger as grocery market-share leader for the Houston area.

That’s according to the most recent market survey published in the January 2008 issue of the Shelby Report, a national trade publication covering the grocery industry.

According to the report, Wal-Mart Supercenter has a 28.5 percent market share, compared to Kroger’s 25.6 percent. Wal-Mart Supercenter’s market share is up 0.88 percent from the previous quarter, compared with Kroger’s decline of 2.10 percent. Third place H-E-B is up 0.26 percent.

Personally, I wouldn’t buy my groceries from Wal-Mart if they were the only store in town. Leaving aside for a second their highly-questionable business practices and the fact that they also sell motor oil and paint thinner under the same roof with their groceries, let’s talk about the quality of their produce and meats.

Quality. As in, it’s non-existent.

Have you ever seen a decent piece of produce at Wal-Mart? I haven’t. Maybe I’m just going to the wrong Wal-Marts, but every single onion, potato, head of lettuce, apple, bag of carrots, orange, etc. looks decidedly unfresh. They look either wilted or dented or bruised or past their prime. And this doesn’t surprise me. After all, when you’re dealing in bulk and when you’re also shipping boxes of sweatpants and lawnmower parts into the same store, freshness and quality probably aren’t going to be your main concerns.

And the meat? I shudder to think about the subpar, low cost facilities from which that meat originates. Certain scenes from Fast Food Nation come immediately to mind. The fish all looks and tastes farmed.  It’s not the kind of meat or fish that I want to eat, and it’s certainly not what I’d feed to my friends and family.

I know the old argument: It’s so cheap to shop at Wal-Mart!  Bullshit.  When you go to Wal-Mart, you aren’t just going to a grocery store, and they know this!

You’re going to a glorified flea market, where you feel like your dollar will go further just because that porcelain angel or candle holder shaped like a cat is marked down to $0.99.  So you fill up your basket not just with food, but with all sorts of other things that you don’t need.  And all those $5.00 picture frames and $12.99 DVDs along with your bags of Cheetos and 12-packs of Big Red quickly add up to a $100 tab at the register.  How is that saving money?

It’s NOT cheap to shop at Wal-Mart.  They just make you think that it is by artificially lowering their prices so that you’ll buy more crap.

By comparison, let’s look at a normal grocery store.  Let’s look at H-E-B. Continue reading Save Money, Live Better? Doubtful.