On the short stretch of street between here and the nearest supermarket, there are numerous (now) living quarters, bearing the remnants of a more commercial past. Big (shop) windows suggest small businesses; grocer's, bakers, plumbers, furniture makers. Little details give away their history. Neighborhood shops, catering to the locals. Very few have survived. Most turned into hip studios.
The world decided it was not a good idea to have neighborhood shops any more.
In Amsterdam, as in other European and American cities, there were times, a shop would be where it was needed . Your baker was around the corner. You would smell his bread waking up in the morning. The veggies were local, as was the meat from the butcher. The milkman made his rounds. Pretty much enough fare going around close by to cater for the basic human needs. If you throw in a local watering hole, or two.
In the times the world decided we didn't want all of that in our back yards any more, things tended to burn a lot easier, fish was stinky, and garbage was collected only once a week. So who wouldn't want to move forward on that new concept going around; the supermarket!
Supermarket & the Internet
The supermarket was a glorious idea; instead of having to rummage around the neighborhood scrambling together bits and pieces of the daily necessities in life and getting rained on doing so, we could push around a cart, get our stuff in a jiffy, look really classy doing it, go home, and spend the rest of the day smoking cigarettes, watching TV-shows with people smoking cigarettes. Perfect!
A supermarket is like the Internet. They have gone through the same motion. They both are promising advances in civilization. Everything we are looking for in one place and at our fingertips (be it a pork sausage or information on how the birds fly).
Both inventions are now reading us like a book, and rather than them giving us what we're looking for, we are providing them with all the information on how they can come up with yet another run on our money, privacy or open sources of information, or all of the above.
The concept remains equally promising, and maybe it helps to realize that the power, in the end, is completely with the consumer.
New Year's Relovution
This afternoon, arriving in that dreaded supermarket in my neighborhood, I imagined the space empty. Then I imagined it fill up again; with a (micro) bakery, veggies, the milk- cheese- and butter- man, a butcher shop, a fish monger and anything any one could ever need really.
It was almost like a market... with a roof on it... a super market...
Marqt in Amsterdam works pretty much on this premise, and all around the world initiatives like this find solid ground. Reclaiming good ideas works, apparently.
My New Year's resolution for 2012 is going to be more like a "relovution"; renewing my vows, proclaiming, once more, the need to divert towards more sustainability. Let's continue to give our food a face.
Bakers or Bankers
None of the bankers will tell us what to do in the difficult times ahead of us. They most certainly won't tell us it might be a good idea to stop shopping at multinationals. Let us turn to the bakers instead. Not so much the actual guy, but all what a baker represents; providing a community daily with honest real bread, caring for and guarding the most basic of foods, helping each other ahead rather than have your money sucked out of you by a faceless corporation.
I was at my oldskool supermarket to get myself some of the flour that I use a lot. It normally sells for 0.59 € per 2 kg. Now, with all the world wanting flour for their oliebollen in this country, it was of course, on sale! Now for €0,79 per 1 kg! Yes people, Happy New Year! Give me a baker over a banker any time.
Wishing you health, wisdom, strength, love, friendship in a 2012 that isn't going to be half as bad as they want to make us believe!