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West Bay, 7 March 1998

The West Bay Wench Goes Grocery Shopping

Well, hello there! I didn't expect to run into you here at the grocery store. I guess we do all have to eat, though. You know, I was talking to a couple the other night who have been coming to Grand Cayman for over twenty years, and they were reminiscing about shopping for groceries in a little "variety" store and buying their meat out of a freezer in someone's garage!

Although things were a bit different by the time I first came here twelve years ago, I remember sending a friend to the store for lettuce. He said he went to all three grocery stores on the island, and they all told him to come back on Thursday after the produce boat came in! I also remember the meat stalls advertising "Fresh Beef on Friday," and they did mean fresh! When you heard what sounded like a gunshot followed by the creaking of gears and clanking of chains, you didn't go out in the back yard to take a look! You can still find a few of those stands around the island, but most folks buy their beef in the grocery store now.

Times sure have changed. Grand Cayman now boasts five very modern supermarkets, as well as a number of smaller local markets, and unless severe weather has prevented the cargo ships from unloading, you can find several different varieties of lettuce (and just about anything else you could want) any day of the week. But let's go in, and I'll show you what I mean.

One thing you won't find in a grocery store in Cayman is alcoholic beverages - not even beer or wine. You'll have to go to a liquor store for those, and be sure to do so before 6:00 PM, because that's when they close! They aren't open on Sunday either, and neither are the grocery stores, but the larger supermarkets stay open until 11:00 PM the other six nights of the week.

Each of the five supermarkets on the island that has its own bakery and deli, and a fairly extensive selection of fresh produce, dairy products, meats, frozen foods, and canned and packaged goods. Some of the local items, like cassava, plantain, chocho, and akee, might be unusual to you, and I find the various imported Jamaican and British products quite interesting. Foreign grocery stores can be as entertaining and enlightening as museums are!

It's certainly a far cry from what was available just twelve years ago! But folks are always asking me about the price of food in Cayman, so let's take a look at some of the common "tourist" purchases.

1/2 gallon of 1% milk
12-pack Coke (12 oz. cans)6.097.61
2 litre bottle
of Coke or Pepsi
1/2 gallon Minute Made
Pure Premium orange juice
32 oz. V-8 Juice2.453.06
1 lb. loaf Holsum Butter Loaf bread2.132.66
10 oz. box Nabisco Wheat Thins2.993.73
18 oz. Peter Pan peanut butter2.793.48
8 oz. Kraft N.Y. sharp cheddar cheese3.053.81
1 lb. boneless N.Y. strip steak7.999.98
1 lb. ground chuck1.892.36
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts3.994.98
1 lb. Idaho baking potatoes.69.86
8-16 oz. bag assorted types
Dole salads
1 head Dole iceberg lettuce1.091.36
6.5 oz. bag Lays Classic potato chips2.352.93
6 oz. bag Lays Baked Potato Crisps2.172.71
16 oz. bag Keebler Chocolate Lovers
Chips Deluxe cookies

If the prices seem high to you, go back and re-read two of my previous articles, Cayman Prices and When is a Dollar Not a Dollar, bearing in mind that most food items are either heavy, bulky, or require special handling, which increases the freight costs.

Remember also that the freight costs are added on to the wholesale price of the goods before the 20% duty is calculated! Some items, such as yogurt and tea were recently designated as duty free commodities, and a few others carry lower rates of duty, but most food products are dutiable at the 20% rate.

Well, I think I have everything I need for the weekend. (Stores are closed on Sunday, you know.) I'd better get home before my frozen yogurt melts.

Take care now. I hope I'll see you in Cayman again soon!

Please send your comments and/or suggestions for future articles to the The wench apologizes that she really doesn't have enough time to answer personal requests for recommendations on where to stay and what to do in Cayman, but she does try to read all her email when time permits.

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Last update: 7 March 1998
Copyright © 1998 Don Backstrom
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