Comment: Supermarkets vs. Mom&Pop   Leave a comment

This post is something from an article in La Repubblica (5 Aug 2010, pp.30-31), but I couldn’t rightly describe it as “News” as it is hardly a novel piece of information. The article, written by Ettore Livini, discusses the recent changes in the food purchasing habits of the Italians. Unsurprisingly, there has been, between 1996 and 2009, a huge shift towards buying food in sueprmarkets. In 1996 Italians bought 40.6% of their pears, prosciutto, and pecorino at the mom&pop in their neighborhood, while 50.2% of their food purchases were at supermarkets (the remaining percentage was from the internet and itinerant sellers). Only thirteen years later 70.8% of food is bought in supermarkets, leaving only 18.8% in “traditional grocery stores.”

The article points out that Italians have ever less time and money, and the supermarket is the perfect response to both of those problems. The problem is that a huge distribution comes with hidden costs, both economic and organaleptic: pears, for example, are picked when “hard as marble” to be ripe when they finally arrive at their supermarket basket. The Spanish have been creative in their solution to this need: small producers band together and plant different varieties to ensure a three-month long “season.” Small Italian producers have yet to organize onthis level. There is hope–the article cites local markets, fair trade, and an appreciation for what I call “philological food” (i.e. supposedly “traditional” foods)–but it can hardly be doubted that the trend is towards the extinction of these small grocery stores, however pleasant the service or ripe the tomatoes.  ZN

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Posted December 7, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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