I’ve Been Shopping For Food All Wrong! Markets VS Supermarkets

I have been shopping at the supermarket for years. I like the convenience of having all the items I need in one place. Brooklyn supermarket is a prime example with foods ranging from freshly produced fruits and vegetables to the frozen remains of slaughtered animals. It is a great business idea to have everything in one place and ‘food stores’ such as Empire supermarket and MegaMart appear to be thriving through the implementation of this idea. Usually convenience comes at a cost, and in this case the cost is great! Shopping for a two week supply of food at any of these ‘one stop shops’ at times produce a bill of over 14,000 JMD and that is just for me (no I am not fat). I have come to realize that shopping at these superstores is like cutting a hole in my pocket before pouring in the money. Given the sliding dollar and the climbing cost of living, I had to find a way to ‘mek the dolla stretch’.

Women have generally been good at ‘stretching’ the dollar and I still don’t know how my granny fed so many with so little, only Jesus knows. Many suggestions from female friends have indicated that shopping at the Downtown market will save me loads in cash. The question was, would the possible savings at downtown compensate for the risk! But then again, what’s the worst that could happen in Downtown? I decided to give this market thing a try just to see what the savings are like. I shopped at the supermarket only for items I simply could not find at the market and completed my shopping at the Papine market.

Papine Market
Papine Market

The result was amazing, the savings were unbelievable! I picked up more items than I could carry and it cost so little in comparison to the supermarket. The produce were fresh and had never been on a refrigerator, there was much more to chose from, I could negotiate and the customer service was top notch! The first sellers I encountered at the papine market were a couple, really nice people the transaction was as follows:

Seller: “Hello mi can sell you sumting?”

l stopped and viewed their very presentable display then started to pick up random foods. I got a pound of yellow yam, a few sweet potatoes (which I used to make a mean potato pudding, I’ll share the recipe soon) onions, scallion, thyme, tomatoes, a sweet pepper and some ackee.

Me: “Ho much mi owe you?”

Some quick calculations revealed the total.

Seller: “$730″

I thought for a second she made an error but she turned out to be  sharper mathematician than I was. I gave her $700 and fumbled through my wallet for the remaining $30.

Seller:”Dat aright man”

So there I got a discount without asking for it.  Try getting such a deal at a supermarket. l went to another seller to get some fruits as the couple were the Ground provision and vegetables specialists. I stopped at another lady’s booth where I saw a freshly cut melon. I asked the price and expressed my interest in purchasing. To my surprise she told me it’s not so sweet and she doesn’t recommend it! Amazed! So I saved quite a bit of cash and I had fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s what I call a win win. They now have themselves a life long customer. You may think I am strange for not knowing this sooner but I’m sure there are others locked in the closet of convenience as I was, suffocating due to the smoke of their burning cash.

Beautiful Stall
Beautiful Stall

Please form a mutually beneficial relationship with our farmers, support them and save.  It’s time we stopped purchasing high priced imported foods which are easily accessible locally for much less.

– Aldeam Facey 2015

The Jamaican loada Man

If you travel within Kingston and St Catherine using public transportation, you are likely to encounter casually dressed men aggressively trying to place you on a taxi. More often than not these are self employed business men selling their services whether you like it  or not.

Before you begin to question the necessity of their services, there are a few questions you need to ask. How would passengers know that they should open the door of a taxi and sit in it? How would the taxi drivers know that they should indicate their route? How would the passengers make arrangements with  the taxi driver for a turn-off etc? Is the passenger worthy of communicating directly with the driver? Apparently not.

Papine Taxi Stand
Papine Taxi Stand

Based on personal observations taxi drivers pay up to $50 for a “loada man” to invite 2 passengers into their cars, a whopping 25% cut! The increase in tax doesn’t look so bad now does it?

I have always questioned the reason drivers continue to pay for this service, but I have come to realize that it is not a choice and sanctions are attached to noncompliance. The word government comes to mind. These guys govern the transportation services in many areas while the government selected by the people fails to control what can only be defined as extortion!

So they are running an illegal business they are not dressed appropriately for the services they provide, they are not respectful when dealing with passengers or drivers and profanities form the backbone of their language. With all those negativities attached to the services they provide, they still have better job security than the well educated contract signing tax paying University graduates.

Papine Taxi Stand
Papine Taxi Stand

The poor taxi drivers, like slaves have to conform to the autocracy in order to survive. Often working hard to pay their employers and their ’employees’. To compensate for the cost incurred by the services of the ‘loada man’, drivers are compelled to maximize the carrying capacity of their vehicles, drive a wee bit above the speed limit and avoid traffic by any means necessary. In the long run the passenger suffers. In certain areas such as the Spanish town bus terminus some of these men may take your luggage and place on a bus without having your consent or verification of destination. At times they will even fight each other deciding who will direct you to a vehicle, as if you are not able to choose a vehicle yourself.

The government must be commended however, for taking control of the parking lot in downtown. Despite the threats, the government should continue to maintain control of the lot as it is a huge step towards the eradication of the extortionist culture. Taxi drivers and passengers are both at risk of verbal and physical abuse by these aggressive criminals. How could we forget 2009 when a driver was chopped and seriously injured in the presence of a terrified audience! See the link below (Graphic).

It is amazing that this illegal activity is taking place so openly, often times in close proximity to a police station. It makes me wonder if some politicians are involved. I hope not.

At this point in my sermon I should be making an appeal, an appeal for the enforcers to enforce, for the government to govern and for legal order to be restored. But, will talking about it help? I’m sure those in authority already know about it and are either doing nothing or are puppets, dangling at the requests of the dons. We need to stop packing ourselves in taxis to facilitate the ‘loada man’. Taxi drivers need to stand up like their ancestors and fight for freedom.

These ‘loada men’ need to go, the service they provide, forcefully, is not necessary.

– Aldeam Facey 2015

Many Interests, One Jamaican