26 May 2007

a berkeley bowl in every neighborhood?

i was thrilled to read that progress plaza is getting a real live grocery store.

(interesting to note that the grocery story was -- inexplicably, i'd say -- filed under U.S. rather than Health. maybe lead health reporter jane brody has embargoed the dangerous suggestion that there are social obstacles to her upper-income-quintile lifestyle prescriptions?)

i was less thrilled to hear that the new store will be a Fresh Grocer. it's not that i bear fresh grocer any particular antipathy -- i just wonder whether this is the right solution for north philly. fresh grocer in university city is a yuppie haven where penn kids spend oodles of cash on fancy shit. sort of a more-commercialized whole foods.

if price is the problem, the solution is unclear. it's sure as shit not safeway or, as we know from painful experience, cousin's. meg and i were talking about this over breakfast this morning and she wondered: why not berkeley bowl? it's not that the bowl doesn't make money (i think); it's not that the bowl sells high; it's not that it can sell low because everything's local. is it that the folks who come for the fancy-ass cheeses and whatnot are subsidizing the folks who come for the canned goods and apples and sweet potatoes? is it the bulk section?

and if it's those things, as opposed to berkeley specifics, then why don't we see more markets like this? related food policy question: why aren't CSA's more aggressively marketed to low-income communities? or are they, and it just doesn't work? is it transportation? is it that CSA's can't take food stamps? is it...what is it? (yes, i know there are time and energy and cultural capital issues about actually preparing CSA food, and fresh food in general. how serious are they?)

in the meantime: godspeed, fresh grocer. anything's better than popeye's and dollar store mac and cheese every night.