Essence of Berkeley: Food shopping as worship

Berkeley's Farmers' Markets: outdoor tent revivalists?

In case you missed it, a post on this site last week elicited an entertaining rumination by Berkeleysider EBGuy on Berkeley’s food stores and their role as our new cathedrals — or temples, or synagogues. More Berkeleysiders weighed in with their analogies. Here’s the full list (so far):

  • Farmers’ Markets: outdoor tent revivalists. This is where the Food Fundamentalists go.
  • Berkeley Bowl: non-denominational mega church. Draws from the surrounding region. You go there, right?
  • Berkeley Natural Grocery: storefront religion at its finest.
  • Monterey Market: Baptists. True believers. Schisms.
  • Trader Joe’s: Assemblies of God. Fervent believers. Growing fast.
  • Safeway: Mainline Protestants. Trying to revamp but slowly dying.
  • Andronico’s: high church Episcopalians.
  • Farm Fresh To You CSA: Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Whole Foods: Unitarians. Backsliding food fundamentalists who don’t want to feel any guilt when shopping for convenience.
  • Whole Foods: Catholics. Pope, err CEO, John Mackey; need I say more?
  • Shintos go to Tokyo Fish Market.
  • Presbyterians go to Grocery Outlet.
  • Hindus go to the San Pablo/University markets.
  • Secular humanists aren’t sure where to go.
  • Atheists grow their own.
  • The Cooperative Grocery is the Judaic temple.
  • Pagans gather huckleberries and miners’ lettuce in the woods.
  • Irish Catholics shop at Beverages & More and complain about the Joyce quotes.
  • Italian Catholics shop at Genova’s Delicatessen and buy more than they need.
  • Opus Dei Catholics shop at Natural Grocery Company while lecturing patrons on the impurities present.
  • Jesuits shop at Lucky because they’re open 24 hours and they can get in their shopping before 6 a.m. mass.
  • Convent of the Sacred Heart sends the glove-clad hired help to Star Grocery.
  • Anti-Zionist Jews shop at Halal Food Market because it makes them feel less “oppressive”.
  • Zionist Jews now ONLY buy Israeli manufactured couscous and feta at Trader Joe’s by the caseload.
  • Conservative Jews mainly shop at Andronico’s, but being somewhat nostalgic for a mythical past, they still wistfully refer to it as Park N’ Shop.
  • Reform Jews also shop at Andronico’s on Shattuck, University and at Whole Foods on Telegraph but pretend it’s still the old Berkeley Co-op to balm their forward oriented conscience.

Thanks to EBGuy, Superstar Jane, Maureen Burke, Lee Trampleasure, Nancy Schimmel, Cliff Magnes and SZ Underwood. For attributions see original post. Photo: jaycross, Creative Commons.

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  • Misty

    My partner and I are grocery store athiests. We don’t grow our own, but we do shop at three different stores in order to get the best prices.

  • EBGuy

    Misty, welcome to the consumer confessional. We are trinitarians as well. Care to name names? Our list, in sanctimonious order (most to least):
    1. CSA box – we always mention this first when conversing with a Food Fundamentalist. You are less likely to get hit with a tract preaching the evils of methyl iodide. Downsides: root vegetable penance in the the winter.
    2. Monterey Market – for inexpensive fruits and vegetables. This store gets mentioned when someone is haranguing you about the wonders of the Berkeley Bowl juggernaut. You simply turn away and say, “We are Monterey Market people”.
    3. Trader Joe’s – do you really need to say anything more about a store that gives away free balloons to the kids? Please, no one answer that; it’s a rhetorical question.