Even though it's still more than three weeks until Pesach (Passover) I've started picking up kosher l'pesach supplies when I find them in the market. I already have bought matzo meal. Actually, I use that all year instead of breadcrumbs since it makes a very nice, light breading. It just happened that the container I found was already for Passover. I also have a box of Yehuda Matzo Farfel imported from Israel which gives me some hope that I will find more of the imported products I usually buy.
Why did I start so early this year? Green Bay doesn't exactly have a huge Jewish population. OK, the conservative shul has 125 families that are members and that is a good sized congregation, but I get the idea that overall it's a small and very assimilated community, No one supermarket has a really good kosher foods section though most have at least a small selection. Israeli products are few and far between. This is very different from Cincinnati or even Raleigh.
What I end up doing is visiting different markets, especially those with the best selection (Woodmans, Copps, and Cub Foods, in that order) to find what I want. I go to a fourth market, the one nearest my home, because it has the best selection of organic produce and because it's convenient. With a name like Piggly Wiggly it isn't surprising that they don't have a kosher or Jewish foods section at all. This isn't exactly the convenient one-stop shopping I've had elsewhere.
If anyone knows of a market I've missed with a good selection of Jewish and/or Israeli foods anywhere near Green Bay by all means please e-mail me. I'm still pretty new to the area and I certainly could have missed the best one. As far as I can tell there just isn't a Yiddishe gaas (Jewish neighborhood) here and the community seems to be really spread out.
One of my motivations, albeit a minor one, for moving to Israel is that it is the one place in the world where being Jewish just isn't an issue. 80% of the population is Jewish and 30% of the Jewish population is some sort of Orthodox. While I'm not Orthodox I've decided to keep a kosher kitchen as a matter of tradition, of preserving Jewish culture, and because a little religious observance really doesn't hurt. Sure, when I lived in New York I had a Super Sol (an Israeli supermarket) that was shomer Shabbas (closed on the Jewish Sabbath). It still isn't the same as living in a predominantly Jewish country where the national culture is my culture, the one I was raised in and identify with.
So... with any luck this will be the last or at least the next to last year where I feel I have to hunt for foods for Pesach.