Time was when every penny counted in the grocery store, when coupons were carefully hoarded. I fondly remember the period of my life when Andrew and I went out on Tuesday evening and bought the grocery items for a week. There was not a penny left in our bank account, but in those pre-digital days I could write a check, knowing that money would be deposited from our paychecks first thing Wednesday morning before the checks made it to the bank. I just looked that transaction up and check kiting, or in our case playing the float seems to be illegal, so please don't tell the IRS. There were a few food items I coveted, but would never dream of buying. Raspberries, mushrooms, avocados were worth their weight in gold and never made it on my list, let alone in my shopping cart.
I should be equally careful today, because who knows what the future has in store or what will happen with our pensions, but now I only have two mouths to feed instead of seven, I buy an occasional luxury. This week I checked out mushrooms. I love the occasional mushroom omelet and it brings back such happy memories of my friend Sylvia. I wanted just plain old button mushrooms and as I looked over the various sorts of mushrooms, I noticed the sign WIC in front of every shelf. In case you don't know, WIC indicates that the foodstuff has been approved for the Women, Infants and Children program, which enables families who are low income and who satisfy other requirements to obtain nutritious food free of charge. I am a great believer in making nutritious food available to children and am certainly not about to query this program, but shitake mushrooms? Oyster mushrooms? Organic portobello mushrooms?
I wondered if the decision to include these items was made by the store manager, but a little research led me to the State of Michigan WIC approved foods website. It is fascinating reading and I applaud the authors for making clear in words and photos exactly what cereal for example has been approved. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, I found that every fruit, with the exception of pre-prepared fruits, has been approved and all vegetables, except while potatoes. Shitake mushrooms, but not white potatoes? I supposed the authorities are afraid that mothers will fill up their children with mashed potatoes and omit other more nutritious dishes. like beef tenderloin in a port shitake reduction or spinach and mushroom quiche with shitake mushrooms.
You see my problem here, don't you, and it is one that occupied my thoughts as I made my way home with my small punnet of button mushrooms, made infinitely more attractive by being offered as a "Manager's Special."