Sure, there is a lot of fish on Rødøy. Even if I can’t catch any myself, we can always buy fish from Steinar for cheap. But we can’t live on fish alone. Scurvy is a nasty disease. Your teeth fall out. Before we came to the island, we knew there was a general store, but we expected its selection to be very limited. We were especially worried about getting fresh fruits and vegetables.
The first time we walked into the store, we were both pleasantly surprised. The interior feels like a typical, brightly lit Seven-Eleven. For a store that serves about 200 people, it’s shockingly well stocked and well organized. They carry kiwi fruit and pomegranate! How many Seven-Elevens have kiwi fruit and pomegranate? And there is a light-activated conveyer belt buzzing next to a proper cash register with a laser scanner. I’m not sure if a conveyer belt is necessary for a store that serves 200 people; nonetheless it’s sign that the owners take what they do seriously. If you want something they don’t have, you can ask for it. Kristin asked for fresh ginger, and a week later, lo and behold, fresh ginger! Together with leeks, I can make a passable Chinese steamed fish.
Shipments arrive weekly by ferry. On Tuesday nights, from our deck, we see lights on all evening; a forklift zipping around the parking lot. Before the shipment, however, some things, like milk and fresh meats, could run out. And some more perishable items have expirations dates alarmingly near in the future. But we really can’t complain. We don’t have a car so we can’t go to Mo-i-Rana easily. We rely on the island store more than others, and it has served us very well.
We hear that food shopping on Rødøy hasn’t always been like this. The new store just opened February this year. The old store didn’t have nearly the same selection. Some islanders developed a habit of hoarding: they’d buy the entire stock if they see something they like. Now they need to remind themselves that hoarding is no longer necessary. Also, the old store owner applied personal nutritional principles as well as commercial instincts: the owner wouldn’t carry what she believed to be unhealthy products, like iodized salt. The new store certainly has no compunction about health: the candy section is an entire island, twice the size of the produce section.
My goal before our year is up is to try every single food item in the store. On one dark day, I will buy the frozen pizza.