Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Guns and Butter

Ah, if only gun-toting, shooting-each-other-up youth had the power to incite as much passion, commitment, and rallying as a friggin' grocery store! Websites, videos, organized protests, and even a panel spring up in the arsenal of weaponry coordinated to keep the nation's organic supermarket from coming to Jamaica Plain but for you, ignorant, misguided, impoverished gang-child? You're on your own, kid, until they need a scapegoat. Where do you buy your food? I bet you don't - I bet you're hungry a lot and hungry for a lot of things:  acceptance, love, food, safety, respect, knowledge, a decent future, work.

Where is all this civic effort when gang violence escalates? Grocery shopping, apparently.  That these protesters are able to coordinate so quickly and adeptly using all available new media says it's too late: the gentry have arrived.

Whole Foods is a symptom, not the cause of gentrification here in Boston or anywhere else in the country. Fabulous (and fabulously expensive) City Feed, the business with the most to fear from a Whole Foods in J.P., is sure, irrefutable proof that the gentry aren’t just discovering J.P., they are ensconced. And the expansion of City Feed from one store on Boylston Street to a second and larger one on Centre only confirmed the increased incursion of people with ample disposable income to that neighborhood.

I worked at the Symphony Whole Foods when it was still a Bread and Checkbook (Bread and Circus, for the uninitiated). I took the job because it was the closest place to home which allowed me to work only part-time and still get health insurance and other benefits. Maybe I don’t love Whole Foods but they provide benefits to their workers far beyond anything the Hi-Lo ever did. They’ve also done much more to support local farmers than the Hi-Lo ever did.

In the meantime, if you miss the Hi-Lo, do the socially just thing and come shop Tropical Foods/El Platanero in Dudley Square and give the food to someone who doesn't have the luxury of protesting a food store.

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