Sara, a co-worker at my old job who worked out of the San Diego office, once asked me where I could possibly do my food shopping. Having never been to New York, she just couldn't envision that we actually had regular grocery stores here. I assured her that there were plenty of grocery stores with basically the same stuff she had in San Diego. Basically being the operative word.
A brief article in the Times made a small reference to the generally dismal state of a New Yorker's grocery store. The article focuses on how to sort through the usual offerings with an eye to selecting the most wholesome foods: i.e. those without many ingredients, made from products you can pronounce, etc.. And the pickings were slim.
The thing about NYC is that even though the grocery stores may be culinarily dispiriting, the choice is endless: there are raw milk collectives and farmers markets [just look at Nina's list]; there are upscale exclusive marts and down-home bodegas; there are ethnic stores of every variety; and now there is both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s [to which I have yet to go].
Although New Yorkers do have to contend with the good, the bad and the grimy on multiple planes, we have the luxury of choice; one never has to feel stuck buying processed, overpriced or undelcious foodstuff at any price point.