Will Supermarkets Be Irrelevant in the Future?

Categories: Doggy Bag

Map of community gardens and urban farmland in West Oakland.
​The awesome Raj Patel turned up on NPR this morning, withstanding a brief grilling by affably-voiced Steve Inskeep about "Five Things You Don't Know About Supermarkets," Patel's piece in the latest Foreign Policy magazine.

From today's NPR chat we learn that Inskeep's farmers' market in DC is sick, though we don't quite learn those five things we don't know. But maybe we already know them, especially here, where West Oakland's a flaunted case of a community essentially red-lined (Patel's word) from supermarket access. Despite that ― or because of it ― a sort of patchy, imperfect matrix of local foods has appeared. Patel:

What you're seeing in other parts of the world, and also in the U.S., is a sort of emergence not just of farmers markets but also of local kind of open source logistics empires, where farmers are connected to consumers through a web of things like community supported agriculture. And so that's starting to become a way in which communities are overcoming the red-lining that has prevented them from accessing fresh fruits and vegetables that supermarkets have sort of dangled in front of them but then denied them.
And though Inskeep says, well, isn't it unrealistic to feed the planet from garden plots, Patel spins a post-petroleum future where we'll all need foods raised nearby, Mad Max with chickens. Even between traffic reports and top-of-the-hour news reports, Patel is illuminating.

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