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How Far Is Too Far To Walk With Groceries?

by Prince Of Petworth February 13, 2008 at 11:32 pm 33 Comments

IMG_6852, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

I often see folks walking down 13th Street, often quite a number of blocks from the Tivoli Giant. And I always wonder, how far they are walking with groceries. I spotted these two folks near Fairmont but they had a manageable one bag each. I’ve seen folks loaded down with multiple bags on each hand. I have to be honest, as mentioned before, I’ve been considering selling my car. But one of the reasons I haven’t is because I don’t know how I’d go grocery shopping. So how far is too far to shlep grocery bags from the store?

  • Golden Silence

    When I lived in Petworth, what was a quick 10-minute walk without groceries to Tivoli Giant was a grueling 20+ minutes back. I’d stop at every corner to catch my breath (even if I had pedestrian right of way) and would be relieved when I made it back. Creepy men hanging out would yell at me with that “Shawty! Baby girl, can I help you?” mess, and I wasn’t trying to be bothered with them.

    When I moved to Northeast I finally invested in a personal shopping cart, but since then I’ve upraded and now use Giant’s Peapod delivery service. I never need to go to the store again, unless I need to pick up a couple odds and ends between deliveries.

  • Having lived in NorCal without a car for six years, I found that my tolerance for walking with groceries was pretty high. Even 15 blocks if need be. But I couldn’t have done it without a granny cart. I was lucky in California. There are grocery stores everywhere. Many of them easily accessible to transit, including free circulators and BART. Fifteen blocks was probably the farthest. And there were great corner stores for incidentals like beer, staples, and small selections of fruits and veggies. The fancy stores even had chauffeured vans. I could never use delivery — I have to pick out my own food. And yes, I’m basically incapable of buying things on the internet. I will be the last person supporting all of the local businesses: bookstores, music stores, grocery stores, magazine stands, clothing stores and shoe stores.

  • Having just moved near the CH metro, this is actually the first time in my 6 years in DC that I’ve lived a reasonable distance (3.5 blocks) from a grocery store. It’s amazing. Liberating. I eat produce now!

    Before I would pass grocery stores on my walk home from work, but would rarely get more than a bag, because after 10 blocks you start to lose all feelings in your fingers, even if you have a reusable bag.

    Honestly, the granny cart is a fantastic investment. I could make the 15 block haul (to a good grocery) on the weekends before, and now that I live close, it’s super quick to just load it up and roll it home. I’ve never used delivery, but I’ve always wanted to try it out….

  • Anonymous

    I usually take 3-4 bags home, about a 10 minute walk. Or I just stop by multiple days a week. Keeping a car for just grocery shopping is kinda sillly – that’s a really, really expensive way to save a little time on groceries.

  • New Hampy

    It’s all about the old lady cart!

  • Nikki

    Well, I still have my car (it’s paid for, and we take road trips). But since I started having vegetables delivered, I never haul more than two bags or so from my grocery store. i kind of feel like a sissy if i drive for groceries now. Also, invest in some of the reusable bags. They hold way more and are super tough.

  • granny-carts kick massive champion ass.

  • Nita

    I’ve given up my car, and I typically don’t carry more than 2-3 bags of groceries (whereas before I used to really stock up). Sometimes I’ll ride along with a friend on their grocery trips. You definitely will need the granny cart (although I haven’t invested in one yet). As an aside: I don’t miss the car, although I’ve noticed that there a number of friends that I don’t see anymore, because I was the one who drove out to their place, and now they’re too busy to drive into DC. :-

  • Steve

    Peapod, PoP, Peapod. No need to go to the Giant when it comes to you!

  • peapod

    I’ll refer you, haha. gets me $10 in groceries I think

  • Christina

    I have a granny cart, so I would walk a pretty long way. (I also want to make a quick pitch for reusing bags — I think Giant gives you a whole three cents back per reused bag!)

    I’ve also biked from the Tivoli Giant to my home, but it’s all uphill and I’m not going to pretend it’s easy, especially if you have a lot of stuff in a backpack and in your bike “trunk.” But it’s good exercise.

    I don’t use Peapod (though it’s a decent service) because I’m just a singleton and also because of my aforementioned desire to cut down on plastic bag usage. But I find I occasionally have to be almost aggressive with telling cashiers “I HAVE MY OWN BAG! USE THIS!” (I use canvas bags that you see given out at conventions and stuff — got them from Value Village for 35 cents each. They have stacks of them there. I don’t need the expensive ones from Whole Foods or Trader Joes)

    I think that sometimes the cashiers go on autopilot and just stuff everything in a bag, even if you’re just buying a tube of Chapstick. It’s understandable.

  • Rachel

    Steve and Shawn have it correct—Peapod!!!!!!! Safeway has a delivery service, too, but they messed up my order too many times, so I stick with Peapod.

  • Anonymous

    I walk from the Tivoli Giant about 2 miles home to a location in Petworth a couple times a week. Sometimes I even stop at the Safeway in Adams Morgan instead for variety, so the walk is a bit farther. I don’t like large weekly shopping trips and prefer to just pick up items as I need them. I don’t have a granny cart and don’t want one. My stops at the store are on my way home from something (usually work) in most cases so that would mean I’d have to carry the granny cart at all times. Not convenient. . .plus, I think it would slow me down. Sometimes I overdo it and am extremely happy to get home but I prefer it this way. It’s as if you earned your meal!

    Dump the car. Really. It’s one of the points of living in the city.

  • Anonymous

    I love my granny cart. It lets me buy all sorts of heavy items that i wouldnt be able to carry if i was walking w/o it. i think peapod is a great idea, but i enjoy food shopping too much to give it up!

    I love not having a car and living in the city. I felt liberated when i sold it and certainly dont miss it when we have icy days like this past week.

  • lazy cake

    If the Prince is without a Princess or a Princette, one person’s grocery needs aren’t that great. I don’t live with my girlfriend so I can always carry one week’s worth of groceries without a problem. The trick is to take a backpack….put your milk, your canned goods, etc in there and hand carry eggs, bread, produce, etc.

    This helps the waist line in a few areas: cuts down on unnecessary purchases (“do I really need this 3 liter Mountain Dew?”), gets you out walking while carrying a small load, and it allows you to appreciate the actual dimensions (weight, size,packaging, etc.) of your food purchases.

  • Flipflopirate

    I see a niche market for grocery mules… or perhaps even a sherpa. I could certainly use a learned guide to temper my grocery list from frivolous foodstuffs on my rare hikes to and from tivoli giant.

  • bogfrog

    Flopirate- what about a niche market for granny-cart rentals? Mine is available for 27 cents an hour and is located on the 700 block of ___.

    lazycake – don’t you know we are all keeping our eyes peeled for a Princess for the Prince? Next happy hour, he is going to be flooded with possibilities.

  • Anonymous

    granny cart! Sooo much cheaper than a car.
    Nikki– where to do you get your veggies from? Peapod, or is there a good service otherwise?

  • reuben

    I too am proudly car free (I hate , hate driving!)-and, like many of you, a Peapod

  • Flipflopirate

    Bogfrog – 27 cents is very reasonable per/hr you could probably get that per/quartermile. I have been meaning to fit my trusty bicicleta with saddlebags for some time now; perhaps we should fuse the idea and open a petworth grocery rickshaw… although I might charge a tad bit more than $0.27, savvy a ride?

  • Anonymous

    Peapod, baby, Peapod!

  • pauper

    No plastic bags? Well what will I pick up my dog’s crap with? Oh well, I guess I’ll just leave it on the ground like everyone else.

  • Flipflopirate

    you could carry a garden spade… a quick divit later and you’ve fertalized a planter bed… no waste, reusable, and as a crime detterant poo-crusted spades are as effective as any pepper spray

  • I’ve sometimes gotten way too overzealous in my grocery shopping (I don’t think I was shopping while hungry), and gotten too many things. Shamefully, I’ll admit, I’ve had to take one of those “hacks” (don’t know the spelling) to bring me home b/c there was no way I’d make it back walking or by Metro.

  • Nikki

    Washington’s Green Grocer! They deliver, and the produce is consistently better than what is available at my Giant:

    i actually learned about them from another poster here at PoP!

  • Anonymous

    haven’t you guys been informed? its no longer called a granny cart – its an ‘urban cart’. at least thats what someone at a party tried to convince me of.

    If you are near 14th, check out PanAm just north of the gas station. Its a latino market that is a cultural experience. and they have some great deals on meat and produce. not always the best produce, but great deals. And you’ll save yourself some of the walk.

  • Anonymous

    what I did to help me bring groceries back without having a car is getting a boyfriend. they are very handy for heavy bags.

  • Pingback: Greater Greater Washington()

  • This came up on the Kojo show on WAMU today, talking about public spaces. A caller mentioned the distance to grocery stores as an impediment to more vibrant streets. Here’s more about the discussion and the other issues in the show on Greater Greater Washington: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post.cgi?id=614

  • notyou

    Having a cart helps, but so does rage at the friggin’ Metro not keeping to anywhere the posted time-table.
    There’s also things like zipcar, which we use maybe once or twice a month to stock up, and stopping by Giant, Whole Foods, Yes! or your friendly neighborhood farmer’s market on the trip home for the essentials helps.

  • Adams Morgan

    I’ll walk from Whole Foods back up to Adams Morgan with two semi-full bags, but if it gets more than that, it’s the granny cart. Now if I’m walking from Safeway, I’ll carry as many bags as I possibly can, but that’s a much shorter walk…Let’s just hope all these good folks who support walking to the grocery store continue to suppor that when the Piggy-Wiggly…I mean Harris Teeter…finally arrives in Adams Morgan.

  • Adams Morgan

    BTW, to the person who was disparraging plastic bags, I totally agree and I found these really awesome plastic bags at the market in Guatemala four years ago that I brought home and still use to this day. They look like woven baskets, but are made out of hardish, flexible plastic, people always ask me where I got them. I should import some. I could make a fortune!

  • Peter

    I used to haul two fistfulls of grocery bags from Giant when it was west of 14th to my basement apt on 10th and Monroe.
    Then my girlfriend got a granny cart and life was sweet!


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