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Why I'm Eating So Much Salami

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Why I'm Eating So Much Salami

Andrew Ryan

I have a huge bag of salami in my fridge. It cost me five dollars. I bought it from a place called Cheaper Buy Miles.

I have no idea how they source their items to be able to sell them for so cheap. I can guess how the salami bag in my fridge came to be five dollars. End of line deli styles, when they can’t have their fingers that close to the slicer anymore. Sweet supermarket detritus. How long does salami even last, un-vacuumed? Is a salami-based diet something worth writing home about?

I’m doing it. I am literally writing home about my five-dollar bag of salami butts. Honestly though, with this economic climate, fucking late stage capitalism quickly highlighting class differences, ensuing existential disillusionment, I have done little else but hunt for food bargains in my area (and try to learn about class war-fare shhhh) in the last few weeks.

4 pre-packaged vanilla/chocolate filled croissants for $1.
5 packets of 4-tub yoghurt for $3.
These crazy bargains…
My doctor said I need more calcium in my diet for make benefit Vitamin D, and I can’t handle milk in my coffee anymore so I guess I gotta jump on that cheap yoghurt train?

The thing about discount grocery places is that their customers (see: me) are more likely to spend time working out value of items as they stand in front of them. It’s a hypnotising debacle because there is none of the accustomed brand/marketing decision, delusion of choice. Instead, you’re presented with a huge stack of one kind of dark chocolate or cat biscuits or canned soup, and you have to decide if your money is most effectively spent on that, or is it better value for brain/nutrition going to the market for more expensive fresh soup produce or a sort of cheapish hunk of fish to feed your cat/self.

When I first saw the five dollar bag of salami butts, I spent way too long trying to figure out if it was a good choice. I stood in front of that fridge space, packed as it was with a surreal array of meat and dairy and things pretending to be dairy, staring at the bags of salami, next to the bags of obscure bony cuts of pork where the neat hunks of ham used to sit about a month ago, almost attempting to will the ham bargain bag back in to existence so I wouldn’t have to deal with the only meat I can afford to eat being really fucking processed and really fucking difficult to cut in to the wafer thin slices I’m accustomed to.

There used to be a Coles here in Footscray. Admittedly, this was a non-thinking grocery safe-haven for me. Wow, such choice. It’s no coincidence that the timing of the deletion of this overtly corporate food source from my everyday life has lined up with my increased frustration with the legacy that this institution has had on my life experience.

Talk about a fucking wake up call. Somehow more jolting, in retrospect, than the one I get when scabby faced junkies mistake my house for the dealer next door and they bash on my bedroom window demanding I get Jim or Jeff or “the Asian guy” for them.

Now that I don’t have the option to walk to Coles, I must (happily) walk to a variety of stores to satisfy my consumer needs, be it freshly ground coffee, cheap fruit/veg, a few hunks of tofu bricks, maybe a few avocados if I’m feeling particularly toast-orientated for the morning. Closest bakery for bread. Closest market for Asian-flavour condiments, Cheaper Buy Miles for everything else, and when the house runs out of Vegemite I’ll pick it up from the nearest Coles from my school time; we need it, but can’t get it in Footscray.

I eat less these days, by the way.

News flash: So, the first time I spend more than an hour in a place that isn’t my home or my campus in a few weeks (ie: a bar with a television), I see an advertisement for this discount store. Turns out they have a second store. Looks a lot bigger. Like, ten times bigger. I wish I had the time to go out there. I’d make it a story. I’d ask them about their sources. I’d ask all the staff how much they get paid. I’d do comprehensive research on the whole structure. I would also check to ensure that I am not missing out on any bargains. Cheap food is the best.