Ok, so most of the places I have covered so far are well known in the Bitcoin community. But I think most people wonder about daily items like buying food with bitcoins. Everyone looks forward to the day when you can walk into the grocery store, scan a QR code and pay for your food with bitcoins. Are we there yet? No. But you can buy food with bitcoins if you put some thought behind it.
You have to remember that Bitcoin exists mostly on the Internet. So using the Internet to buy your food is the most obvious first step. Most things on the Internet can be purchased with bitcoins even if they do not take bitcoins directly, you just need to figure out how. Living in Germany I check the German forums on http://www.bitcointalk.org to find out if any grocery stores accept bitcoin online. I found out that one store, Edeka, actually does allow you to shop online. I went to their site and it appeared that they mainly only sold packaged items and no fresh produce or meat. Personally my diet consists mainly of meat with some fruits and vegetables thrown in there at times. I love to grill or smoke on the weekend so I’ll usually cook for the week and just heat up my meals throughout the week. I would not have done well with just packaged foods.
One day I was on Amazon and decided to do a search for “steak”. On Amazon.com I saw that they had steaks for sale but I live in Germany and the delivery usually takes about 2 weeks to get to me so I checked on Amazon.de and found that they had a plethora of different meat stores with decent prices. Then I searched for various vegetables and fruits and saw that they had plenty of stores with those as well. At that point I realized that I could buy everything that I buy for my weekly grocery shopping online. But Purse.io does not support Amazon.de so I had to do more searching. Knowing that I could buy an Amazon gift card at Gyft and eGifter I checked to see if I could use that gift card on Amazon.de. Unfortunately the gift cards do not cross different Amazon websites. After a quick google search I found out that BitPanda (https://www.bitpanda.com/) sells Amazon vouchers for Germany. Just sign up with them and buy a voucher at 1:1 price. I also asked on bitcointalk and found out that two of the users there actually do what Purse.io does in that they will take your Amazon Wish List and make the purchase for you in exchange for bitcoins and by going through them you get 15% off of the purchase. I am assuming that they are buying peoples’ Amazon gift cards at a discount and turning around and using them at a smaller discount.
Here are the two threads that give information on how to do this:
I chose MrDJ who fortunately spoke English. I went onto Amazon.de and did my shopping. I tried to stick with the same stores for my different types of food since they charge about 4 euro for shipping but if you go through one shop they combine the shipping costs for all of your items. I added all of my items to a wish list then sent it to MrDJ on a Wednesday evening. He set up the order and gave me the total amount due along with his Bitcoin address. I grabbed the exchange rate from preev.com and sent the correct amount of bitcoins to his address. Shortly thereafter he submitted the order. When I got home from work on Friday I had a few packages waiting for me with most of my food. My final package arrived on Saturday. All of the meat was well packaged with ice packets that were still frozen when they arrived. The meat was good quality and the lettuce was huge. My language barrier ended up with me getting a dozen limes instead of 3 that I thought I ordered (apparently one order was 4 limes).
My total came to 80 euros plus shipping that was the exact same price as the 15% off that I received so it was as if I was purchasing my food at the same cost as at the store. Usually I spend less but the three large Argentina steaks were 26 euros alone. But the quality was very good, very lean and probably wasted on me because I am not used to cooking such lean meat and I overcooked it. I figured for my next purchase I would not include steak as that tends to be more expensive in Germany. Sticking to pork is usually best.
The next week I bought a larger amount of food with a bit more variety which meant trying a few more stores. I was a bit dismayed by the total shipping being 20 euros on a 100 euro order which the 15% covered mostly but I should have stuck with fewer stores. It is certainly a learning process. I was not as happy with the second order. While most of the food arrived on Friday and Saturday like before, I received my bread a week later and just received my eggs ten days later. So it will take some learning to find out what stores are best for my shopping.
Overall this is a solid option for buying my food with bitcoins. I will likely continue purchasing a select few items this way as I really enjoyed the St Louis style ribs they sent me which were thick and tasty lasting me about 3 meals from just one half rack. And the lettuce gave me a week’s worth of salads that I was able to take to work instead of spending euros on lunch. The bananas did not last until Friday for me and the later delivery on some of my food made it so I had to run to the store to replace those items. But I am pleased that I can buy my food with bitcoins.
I did, however find another option that might allow me to shop at a local grocery store using my bitcoins. I will let you know how that goes in Part 2.
Some people may be wondering why I would go through these third party steps, or why not just use a Bitcoin debit card. We are still pioneers in this realm of currency and I believe Bitcoin is still in the early adopter stage so we have a far way to go before we are scanning our Bitcoin implant over NFC terminals at the grocery store. But it takes people actually spending their bitcoins to create the demand before the businesses will do anything to fulfill that demand. The first guy to travel across the US on only bitcoins had to do some imaginative things to get through such as buying gas station gift cards and even meeting people along the way who would pay for his gas while he paid them in bitcoins. It’s not about doing what is easy, this is a challenge but something that I enjoy. I like finding new ways to turn my bitcoins into the final product that I want without exchanging to fiat or using a bank. As for using a Bitcoin debit card, I have tried to use my bit-x card twice and it didn’t work. It might be because it is a euro based card and I tried it at US stores but I do not care to rely too much on that right now, and from what I hear the fees are not all that great. But I might try it some time to find out.
For those in the US, I did check food prices there and while there are some Amazon stores that have a few items that are not too expensive they do have a lot of very expensive meats. Most likely because it’s specialized and providing shipping to all of the US requires that they raise the shipping prices because they could be shipping it thousands of miles. But maybe if you do enough searching you will find what you need and you can get a 20% discount through Purse.io for your Amazon purchase.
When it comes down to it, buying my groceries through Amazon is ok. I need to make sure someone is here at the house to receive the package (fortunately my landlord or his wife are usually home). I have far too many boxes that I feel bad about throwing in our shared garbage container. But some of the meat is as good of a quality as I get from the butcher that I usually go to. And I do enjoy being able to sit at work and do my grocery shopping. But I think there might be a more convenient way to do this which I will include in Part 2.