Shoprite in Ndola. This is the closest thing Ndola has to our grocery stores. Perhaps you could even call it the Super Shoprite, because it also had household goods in it. Overall it just had a gritty, bedraggled, somewhat messy feel to it. One would not buy the food and items on display if they were in this condition in America. I started in the fresh food aisle. Well, fresh is not the right word. Tired. Droopy. Overripe. Those are better words. Vegetables and fruit sit out on open shelves without refrigeration or the regular little showers of cool water that we have in the U.S. I bought a shriveled green pepper but then the potatoes, onions, and carrots looked good and made it to my basket. The bananas were most pathetic; later an announcement came on that the bananas were marked down. Evidently they were just too far gone even for this market.
It takes a long time to go grocery shopping when the measurements, names, money, packaging, and foods are just different. For example: Would you know to look for “mince” or “minced meat” if you just wanted hamburger? Would you think that “Chip Potatoes” are the bag of whole potatoes you have to cook yourself and not a bag of potato chips? Would you know that milk is not refrigerated here but sold in little boxes off the shelf—and that you are looking for “long-life Parmalat?” Would you think “Jik” when you need bleach? Would you know that you want 300 grams of shaved ham for sandwiches? Or that mince at 20,900 Kwaches per kilo is the same as .454 kilos or 454 grams, or just about the same as 1 lb. of (fatty) hamburger for about $2.50 a pound? Yes, going grocery shopping became a dizzying experience.
One is surprised by the high price of food in Zambia—at least any food that is imported or favored by foreigners. In other words, if you aren’t able/willing to eat only the maize (corn) mush of the natives, eating will be expensive. Here are some examples of prices just to compare:
One, 12oz. can of green beans: $1.45
One small jar of salsa: $6.95
One small bag of Muslix cereal: $5.02
One small butternut squash: $1.89
One small box Italian salted crackers: $6.16
One small (6-8 oz?) Mozarella: $4.53
One pint size milk: $.87 (figure out the gallon price)
All totaled I spent about $167. for about one week’s worth of food for the two of us. Today I spent some time poring over my sales slip to figure out prices and measurements. It was a good, practical lesson in economics.
Now I have another lesson: washing locally grown produce so that it is safe to eat. I think I have safely washed 3 bunches of lettuce in mild bleach water. Tomorrow we’ll eat salad. By Thursday we should know if I learned how to do it right.
P.S. We went to the Bureau de Charge-or bank-to exchange money. The Zambian dollar, called a Kwacha, is about 3,780 to $1. Evidently the American dollar is falling as the exchange rate used to be closer to 4,000 to 1.