Commentary: “Food Miles” Cannot Be Discussed in Isolation From Land Use Policies

Recently in the Davis Enterprise, John Mott-Smith had a provocative piece on the importance of keeping down food miles.

From our perspective there are actually two issues that are important in food miles. First the distance that the food travels to stores. Second, the distance that we travel to stores to get the food.

In arguing for reduction in distance that food is transported, Mr. Mott-Smith writes:

“Generally, locally grown food purchased in season is fresher, more healthful and requires less energy to produce and transport to market, and we should encourage stores and restaurants to provide food that is produced locally.”

Second he argued for neighborhood grocery stores:

“How we get to the market to buy the food is also important. One of the best things we can do is walk or bike to the store. Of course, whether we can walk or bike to a store depends on whether there is a food store near where we live.

Not too long ago, there was a food store within a half-mile of every resident in Davis. The trend to larger stores has been one cause of the closure of several of these “neighborhood stores.” As the effects of climate change and “peak oil” make themselves felt in our economy and our daily lives, having essential services such as a grocery store accessible to each neighborhood will be an important element in reducing the number and distance of vehicle trips in the community.”

Extending his argument out further, what he is really talking about, is having grocery stores that are locally owned and operated and also small and conveniently located within our neighborhoods.

As we have spent much time discussing this year, we have moved away from the neighborhood grocery store model and towards a centralized model with large supermarkets–the two Safeways and the Nugget on East Covell.

Davis Manor, West Lake, and University Mall no longer have their neighborhood grocery stores.

At the same time, a store like Safeway is particularly harmful for the environment and the economy of a place like Davis. They transport all of their food in–this requires large amounts of fossil fuel burning.

And as we have mentioned previously, they take in money from this community and then transport it back to Oakland. The profits go to Oakland. They sit in an Oakland bank. In other words, they suck money out of the community, give a small amount back to their employees, give a small amount back in tax dollars, most of the money leaks out.

This is the argument not only against large national supermarket chains, but against all national chains and big-box stores.

They sound alluring for the consumer offering a broad array of choices and at times better prices (if you catch their items on sale), but in terms of health to the local economy, that health is illusive at best.

Particularly bad, is a store like Target. The city projects a tax revenue of roughly $600,000 from Target. I actually think that’s optimistic once you figure in lost revenue and stores going out of business in the core and the cost of public safety.

But the problem with a place like Target from both an environmental and an economic standpoint, is the habits that people will have to undertake to get there, to get merchandise there, to work there, and to purchase products there.

The economic benefits are actually quite limited. The majority of the products sold there will be imported from elsewhere. The money will be sent to their corporate offices. Their employees will largely be imported in from West Sacramento, Woodland, and Dixon. Thus they will use the majority of their money to purchase goods and services out of town. Why? Because they cannot afford to live in Davis on Target wages.

It is nice to have a revenue base in a city, but where business really helps is the multiplier effect. Here’s an example. If I live in Davis and open up a business the revenue I make in Davis gets spent by me primarily in Davis. I hire employees, they live in Davis, the money that they earn is then spent on goods and services in Davis primarily. And the money that is spent on goods and services goes to other people who spent their earnings on the same and down the line. In other words, the more money spent in Davis that stays in Davis simply proliferates around the community.

On the other hand, if I spend money and it goes to Oakland or Minneapolis, that does not happen. It does not benefit Davis.

So from an economic perspective, local communities are best off having local business who buy their products locally. From an environmental perspective, we are the same.

This all sounds good but then consumers stick their noses into the argument at this point and tell us that they want to be able to choose from a broad selection and consume the products that they want at a cheap price.

The two responses to that point should be that if you believe we are facing an impending global warming crisis, then you need to change your consumption habits. We will not get the deep cuts in carbon and greenhouse gas emissions without changing our behavior.

Second, everyone talks about how much cheaper big-box stores are than other stores, for the most part that’s actually not true. Studies have shown that what actually happens is that big-box stores cherry pick on a few products that are recognizable and charge less. They also have a tendency to charge less when they move into an area, drive out competition, and then adjust to market rate prices.

Everyone talks about how expensive Nugget is. The only difference between Nugget prices and Safeway prices are that Safeway has more frequent sales and they rotate their sales. So if you catch a product on sale, yes it is cheaper, but the base price of Safeway products are as expensive as Nugget. So what generally happens is that consumers will purchase some products on sale but for the most part will buy products that are not on sale and end up spending about the same.

The bottom line is that we have come to accept our market rather than to change it. Just because right now big-box and national chains appear to offer more products at a better price does not mean we are stuck with having to use those environmentally and economically harmful vendors.

At the local level we need to fight to make local business more competitive. That is something that a city council can do. Give local business incentives and benefits that will enable them to be competitive against the national chains.

In the end John Mott-Smith wrote an interesting piece about food miles, but he did not go far enough talking about policies in the city to encourage neighborhood grocery stores. He did not extend those discussion to beyond food. He did not get into the difficult political areas of discussion that will be needed to enact the type of changes he advocates.

In the coming weeks we’ll be talking on the Vanguard about the impact of city driven-policies toward the reduction of carbon emissions and one of the areas that we need to focus on is the disconnect between the council’s words on climate change and their actions and land use policies.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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Environment

136 comments

  1. Aren’t there a number of empty buildings that once served as neighborhood grocery stores, and could easily be used for this purpose again? It seems to me that the reason we don’t have more decentralized food shopping opportunities has more to do with the realities of food economics and shopping patterns. Davis residents already drive to Woodland and Dixon to “save money” when they could purchase for a bit more in Davis. In my own household, my spouse periodically questions why we’re shopping at the Davis Food Co-op (which I believe provides the best alternative in our town, and you neglected to mention) and the Farmers Market when we could “save so much money” by going to one of the other stores.

    Just like the residential real estate market, retail space in Davis carries a premium pricetag. Couple that with higher food prices, enough people with a willingness to pay more, and a very small profit margin for food, it’s difficult to see how we could have more small locally-owned and run food stores in Davis (unless the owner ran it as a charity).

  2. Aren’t there a number of empty buildings that once served as neighborhood grocery stores, and could easily be used for this purpose again? It seems to me that the reason we don’t have more decentralized food shopping opportunities has more to do with the realities of food economics and shopping patterns. Davis residents already drive to Woodland and Dixon to “save money” when they could purchase for a bit more in Davis. In my own household, my spouse periodically questions why we’re shopping at the Davis Food Co-op (which I believe provides the best alternative in our town, and you neglected to mention) and the Farmers Market when we could “save so much money” by going to one of the other stores.

    Just like the residential real estate market, retail space in Davis carries a premium pricetag. Couple that with higher food prices, enough people with a willingness to pay more, and a very small profit margin for food, it’s difficult to see how we could have more small locally-owned and run food stores in Davis (unless the owner ran it as a charity).

  3. Aren’t there a number of empty buildings that once served as neighborhood grocery stores, and could easily be used for this purpose again? It seems to me that the reason we don’t have more decentralized food shopping opportunities has more to do with the realities of food economics and shopping patterns. Davis residents already drive to Woodland and Dixon to “save money” when they could purchase for a bit more in Davis. In my own household, my spouse periodically questions why we’re shopping at the Davis Food Co-op (which I believe provides the best alternative in our town, and you neglected to mention) and the Farmers Market when we could “save so much money” by going to one of the other stores.

    Just like the residential real estate market, retail space in Davis carries a premium pricetag. Couple that with higher food prices, enough people with a willingness to pay more, and a very small profit margin for food, it’s difficult to see how we could have more small locally-owned and run food stores in Davis (unless the owner ran it as a charity).

  4. Aren’t there a number of empty buildings that once served as neighborhood grocery stores, and could easily be used for this purpose again? It seems to me that the reason we don’t have more decentralized food shopping opportunities has more to do with the realities of food economics and shopping patterns. Davis residents already drive to Woodland and Dixon to “save money” when they could purchase for a bit more in Davis. In my own household, my spouse periodically questions why we’re shopping at the Davis Food Co-op (which I believe provides the best alternative in our town, and you neglected to mention) and the Farmers Market when we could “save so much money” by going to one of the other stores.

    Just like the residential real estate market, retail space in Davis carries a premium pricetag. Couple that with higher food prices, enough people with a willingness to pay more, and a very small profit margin for food, it’s difficult to see how we could have more small locally-owned and run food stores in Davis (unless the owner ran it as a charity).

  5. Has anyone really studied big store/small store carbon emissions? Food has to arrive from somewhere and it can not be all locally sourced. If I took one pound of food from each type of store (big/small) I wonder how many hydrocarbons were used to get it from the food source to the store. I assume big chain stores have huge distribution scale advantages that might offset the distance the food actually travels. I do not know.

    Also, if you compare a big market like Safeway to a less big market like Trader Joes I am certain there are more “food miles” in the average Trader Joes product. But I like Trader Joes for that very reason – I like unusual products and many are foreign sourced.

    I do walk to the store but normally I can not because of the weight of things being bought – like bottled water. When I went to China I asked a local guy how could he tell the difference between a European and an American. He told me Americans are easy to identify because the all carry a bottle of water. That product is a complete waste of hydrocarbons.

  6. Has anyone really studied big store/small store carbon emissions? Food has to arrive from somewhere and it can not be all locally sourced. If I took one pound of food from each type of store (big/small) I wonder how many hydrocarbons were used to get it from the food source to the store. I assume big chain stores have huge distribution scale advantages that might offset the distance the food actually travels. I do not know.

    Also, if you compare a big market like Safeway to a less big market like Trader Joes I am certain there are more “food miles” in the average Trader Joes product. But I like Trader Joes for that very reason – I like unusual products and many are foreign sourced.

    I do walk to the store but normally I can not because of the weight of things being bought – like bottled water. When I went to China I asked a local guy how could he tell the difference between a European and an American. He told me Americans are easy to identify because the all carry a bottle of water. That product is a complete waste of hydrocarbons.

  7. Has anyone really studied big store/small store carbon emissions? Food has to arrive from somewhere and it can not be all locally sourced. If I took one pound of food from each type of store (big/small) I wonder how many hydrocarbons were used to get it from the food source to the store. I assume big chain stores have huge distribution scale advantages that might offset the distance the food actually travels. I do not know.

    Also, if you compare a big market like Safeway to a less big market like Trader Joes I am certain there are more “food miles” in the average Trader Joes product. But I like Trader Joes for that very reason – I like unusual products and many are foreign sourced.

    I do walk to the store but normally I can not because of the weight of things being bought – like bottled water. When I went to China I asked a local guy how could he tell the difference between a European and an American. He told me Americans are easy to identify because the all carry a bottle of water. That product is a complete waste of hydrocarbons.

  8. Has anyone really studied big store/small store carbon emissions? Food has to arrive from somewhere and it can not be all locally sourced. If I took one pound of food from each type of store (big/small) I wonder how many hydrocarbons were used to get it from the food source to the store. I assume big chain stores have huge distribution scale advantages that might offset the distance the food actually travels. I do not know.

    Also, if you compare a big market like Safeway to a less big market like Trader Joes I am certain there are more “food miles” in the average Trader Joes product. But I like Trader Joes for that very reason – I like unusual products and many are foreign sourced.

    I do walk to the store but normally I can not because of the weight of things being bought – like bottled water. When I went to China I asked a local guy how could he tell the difference between a European and an American. He told me Americans are easy to identify because the all carry a bottle of water. That product is a complete waste of hydrocarbons.

  9. While I am sympathetic to many of the points John raised, I have to say, in concert with the first posting on this item that consumer behavior will determine what occurs in the interface between food acquisition and the expenditure of fuel to secure it. Government and land-use policies will have much less impact. This is principally because we have intra-regional economies at play. No one likes to admit it and Davis residents in particular seem blind to it but there is a considerable amount of economic activity that takes places within smaller sub-regions that we don’t like to admit. For example, Woodland in effect serves as Davis’ marketplace. There are exceptions, Davis has a more vibrant downtown and the best farmer’s market in the Valley but go to Target in Woodland and you will see a great many Davis shoppers. When the Costco opens it will be filled with Davis shoppers. This is simply because, social interests aside, consumers will travel for better prices, product availability, etc. And the distances are not sufficient to deter them from doing so. Yes, neighborhood shopping centers are useful but consumers will still make their own choices. You’ll note that policy makers, politicians and the Davis rabble who opposed stores like Nugget (oh yes, some of us still remember that one!)will never acknowledge this sub-regional or intra-regional commerce but it’s there and until policies acknowledge and we begin to frame our deliberations in its context, we’re left with the same old thinking that keeps us contained in the same old box.

    Thanks!

  10. While I am sympathetic to many of the points John raised, I have to say, in concert with the first posting on this item that consumer behavior will determine what occurs in the interface between food acquisition and the expenditure of fuel to secure it. Government and land-use policies will have much less impact. This is principally because we have intra-regional economies at play. No one likes to admit it and Davis residents in particular seem blind to it but there is a considerable amount of economic activity that takes places within smaller sub-regions that we don’t like to admit. For example, Woodland in effect serves as Davis’ marketplace. There are exceptions, Davis has a more vibrant downtown and the best farmer’s market in the Valley but go to Target in Woodland and you will see a great many Davis shoppers. When the Costco opens it will be filled with Davis shoppers. This is simply because, social interests aside, consumers will travel for better prices, product availability, etc. And the distances are not sufficient to deter them from doing so. Yes, neighborhood shopping centers are useful but consumers will still make their own choices. You’ll note that policy makers, politicians and the Davis rabble who opposed stores like Nugget (oh yes, some of us still remember that one!)will never acknowledge this sub-regional or intra-regional commerce but it’s there and until policies acknowledge and we begin to frame our deliberations in its context, we’re left with the same old thinking that keeps us contained in the same old box.

    Thanks!

  11. While I am sympathetic to many of the points John raised, I have to say, in concert with the first posting on this item that consumer behavior will determine what occurs in the interface between food acquisition and the expenditure of fuel to secure it. Government and land-use policies will have much less impact. This is principally because we have intra-regional economies at play. No one likes to admit it and Davis residents in particular seem blind to it but there is a considerable amount of economic activity that takes places within smaller sub-regions that we don’t like to admit. For example, Woodland in effect serves as Davis’ marketplace. There are exceptions, Davis has a more vibrant downtown and the best farmer’s market in the Valley but go to Target in Woodland and you will see a great many Davis shoppers. When the Costco opens it will be filled with Davis shoppers. This is simply because, social interests aside, consumers will travel for better prices, product availability, etc. And the distances are not sufficient to deter them from doing so. Yes, neighborhood shopping centers are useful but consumers will still make their own choices. You’ll note that policy makers, politicians and the Davis rabble who opposed stores like Nugget (oh yes, some of us still remember that one!)will never acknowledge this sub-regional or intra-regional commerce but it’s there and until policies acknowledge and we begin to frame our deliberations in its context, we’re left with the same old thinking that keeps us contained in the same old box.

    Thanks!

  12. While I am sympathetic to many of the points John raised, I have to say, in concert with the first posting on this item that consumer behavior will determine what occurs in the interface between food acquisition and the expenditure of fuel to secure it. Government and land-use policies will have much less impact. This is principally because we have intra-regional economies at play. No one likes to admit it and Davis residents in particular seem blind to it but there is a considerable amount of economic activity that takes places within smaller sub-regions that we don’t like to admit. For example, Woodland in effect serves as Davis’ marketplace. There are exceptions, Davis has a more vibrant downtown and the best farmer’s market in the Valley but go to Target in Woodland and you will see a great many Davis shoppers. When the Costco opens it will be filled with Davis shoppers. This is simply because, social interests aside, consumers will travel for better prices, product availability, etc. And the distances are not sufficient to deter them from doing so. Yes, neighborhood shopping centers are useful but consumers will still make their own choices. You’ll note that policy makers, politicians and the Davis rabble who opposed stores like Nugget (oh yes, some of us still remember that one!)will never acknowledge this sub-regional or intra-regional commerce but it’s there and until policies acknowledge and we begin to frame our deliberations in its context, we’re left with the same old thinking that keeps us contained in the same old box.

    Thanks!

  13. “they take in money from this community and then transport it back to Oakland. The profits go to Oakland. They sit in an Oakland bank. In other words, they suck money out of the community, give a small amount back to their employees, give a small amount back in tax dollars, most of the money leaks out.”

    This is just wrong in every respect. It is mercantilist and a complete misunderstanding of how capitalism works. It makes it clear you don’t understand the basics of the advantages of trade.

    If you follow this illogical argument, we should not trade with any other countries, when it’s possible to produce the items we buy from them. That is the 1775 lesson for the poverty of nations. Adam Smith is turning over in his grave.

    You simply don’t understand that if Resident A in Davis buys carrots, for example, at Safeway for 69 cents a pound, as opposed to buying carrots for 99 cents a pound at Theoretical Locally Owned Store X, his 33 cents savings in his pocket far exceed the 2 cents of profit Safeway made on that sale of carrots.

    You might counter that Store X’s carrots are a superior product. That well may be true to you, but not to that consumer, who would rather have his 33 cents in savings, which he can either invest or consume other products which he prefers.

    Regarding all that bogus mumbo jumbo about an economic rationale for not buying products produced elsewhere because of the shipping costs, you again show your ignorance of economics. We would not buy grapes from Chile, for example, if the shipping costs caused the prices to be too high or if we didn’t think the quality was good enough. But we do buy produce from very distant countries (and they buy ours, as well), because the shipping costs are not prohibitive at all.

    It may be the case down the road that this changes, that shipping costs (in a world of high fuel prices) makes Chilean grapes too expensive. But certainly, that is untrue, today.

    What is far more likely down the road to cause us to import less foodstuffs and other foreign made goods is the increasingly weak dollar, which naturally makes imports more expensive to us.

    Finally, if you believe that the true costs of products at one store, say Target, are higher than the list price because Target does not fully pay for the consequences of its carbon emissions, then the only answer to this is to impose a carbon tax, so that such effluent costs are internalized. But it will probably turn out, if you do impose a carbon tax — something I have advocated — that the efficiencies of stores like Target and Wal-Mart will cause them to have an even greater advantage over mom-and-pop shops than they already have.

  14. “they take in money from this community and then transport it back to Oakland. The profits go to Oakland. They sit in an Oakland bank. In other words, they suck money out of the community, give a small amount back to their employees, give a small amount back in tax dollars, most of the money leaks out.”

    This is just wrong in every respect. It is mercantilist and a complete misunderstanding of how capitalism works. It makes it clear you don’t understand the basics of the advantages of trade.

    If you follow this illogical argument, we should not trade with any other countries, when it’s possible to produce the items we buy from them. That is the 1775 lesson for the poverty of nations. Adam Smith is turning over in his grave.

    You simply don’t understand that if Resident A in Davis buys carrots, for example, at Safeway for 69 cents a pound, as opposed to buying carrots for 99 cents a pound at Theoretical Locally Owned Store X, his 33 cents savings in his pocket far exceed the 2 cents of profit Safeway made on that sale of carrots.

    You might counter that Store X’s carrots are a superior product. That well may be true to you, but not to that consumer, who would rather have his 33 cents in savings, which he can either invest or consume other products which he prefers.

    Regarding all that bogus mumbo jumbo about an economic rationale for not buying products produced elsewhere because of the shipping costs, you again show your ignorance of economics. We would not buy grapes from Chile, for example, if the shipping costs caused the prices to be too high or if we didn’t think the quality was good enough. But we do buy produce from very distant countries (and they buy ours, as well), because the shipping costs are not prohibitive at all.

    It may be the case down the road that this changes, that shipping costs (in a world of high fuel prices) makes Chilean grapes too expensive. But certainly, that is untrue, today.

    What is far more likely down the road to cause us to import less foodstuffs and other foreign made goods is the increasingly weak dollar, which naturally makes imports more expensive to us.

    Finally, if you believe that the true costs of products at one store, say Target, are higher than the list price because Target does not fully pay for the consequences of its carbon emissions, then the only answer to this is to impose a carbon tax, so that such effluent costs are internalized. But it will probably turn out, if you do impose a carbon tax — something I have advocated — that the efficiencies of stores like Target and Wal-Mart will cause them to have an even greater advantage over mom-and-pop shops than they already have.

  15. “they take in money from this community and then transport it back to Oakland. The profits go to Oakland. They sit in an Oakland bank. In other words, they suck money out of the community, give a small amount back to their employees, give a small amount back in tax dollars, most of the money leaks out.”

    This is just wrong in every respect. It is mercantilist and a complete misunderstanding of how capitalism works. It makes it clear you don’t understand the basics of the advantages of trade.

    If you follow this illogical argument, we should not trade with any other countries, when it’s possible to produce the items we buy from them. That is the 1775 lesson for the poverty of nations. Adam Smith is turning over in his grave.

    You simply don’t understand that if Resident A in Davis buys carrots, for example, at Safeway for 69 cents a pound, as opposed to buying carrots for 99 cents a pound at Theoretical Locally Owned Store X, his 33 cents savings in his pocket far exceed the 2 cents of profit Safeway made on that sale of carrots.

    You might counter that Store X’s carrots are a superior product. That well may be true to you, but not to that consumer, who would rather have his 33 cents in savings, which he can either invest or consume other products which he prefers.

    Regarding all that bogus mumbo jumbo about an economic rationale for not buying products produced elsewhere because of the shipping costs, you again show your ignorance of economics. We would not buy grapes from Chile, for example, if the shipping costs caused the prices to be too high or if we didn’t think the quality was good enough. But we do buy produce from very distant countries (and they buy ours, as well), because the shipping costs are not prohibitive at all.

    It may be the case down the road that this changes, that shipping costs (in a world of high fuel prices) makes Chilean grapes too expensive. But certainly, that is untrue, today.

    What is far more likely down the road to cause us to import less foodstuffs and other foreign made goods is the increasingly weak dollar, which naturally makes imports more expensive to us.

    Finally, if you believe that the true costs of products at one store, say Target, are higher than the list price because Target does not fully pay for the consequences of its carbon emissions, then the only answer to this is to impose a carbon tax, so that such effluent costs are internalized. But it will probably turn out, if you do impose a carbon tax — something I have advocated — that the efficiencies of stores like Target and Wal-Mart will cause them to have an even greater advantage over mom-and-pop shops than they already have.

  16. “they take in money from this community and then transport it back to Oakland. The profits go to Oakland. They sit in an Oakland bank. In other words, they suck money out of the community, give a small amount back to their employees, give a small amount back in tax dollars, most of the money leaks out.”

    This is just wrong in every respect. It is mercantilist and a complete misunderstanding of how capitalism works. It makes it clear you don’t understand the basics of the advantages of trade.

    If you follow this illogical argument, we should not trade with any other countries, when it’s possible to produce the items we buy from them. That is the 1775 lesson for the poverty of nations. Adam Smith is turning over in his grave.

    You simply don’t understand that if Resident A in Davis buys carrots, for example, at Safeway for 69 cents a pound, as opposed to buying carrots for 99 cents a pound at Theoretical Locally Owned Store X, his 33 cents savings in his pocket far exceed the 2 cents of profit Safeway made on that sale of carrots.

    You might counter that Store X’s carrots are a superior product. That well may be true to you, but not to that consumer, who would rather have his 33 cents in savings, which he can either invest or consume other products which he prefers.

    Regarding all that bogus mumbo jumbo about an economic rationale for not buying products produced elsewhere because of the shipping costs, you again show your ignorance of economics. We would not buy grapes from Chile, for example, if the shipping costs caused the prices to be too high or if we didn’t think the quality was good enough. But we do buy produce from very distant countries (and they buy ours, as well), because the shipping costs are not prohibitive at all.

    It may be the case down the road that this changes, that shipping costs (in a world of high fuel prices) makes Chilean grapes too expensive. But certainly, that is untrue, today.

    What is far more likely down the road to cause us to import less foodstuffs and other foreign made goods is the increasingly weak dollar, which naturally makes imports more expensive to us.

    Finally, if you believe that the true costs of products at one store, say Target, are higher than the list price because Target does not fully pay for the consequences of its carbon emissions, then the only answer to this is to impose a carbon tax, so that such effluent costs are internalized. But it will probably turn out, if you do impose a carbon tax — something I have advocated — that the efficiencies of stores like Target and Wal-Mart will cause them to have an even greater advantage over mom-and-pop shops than they already have.

  17. If people living in a Davis neighborhood without a supermarket really believe 1) that there is enough demand in their neighborhood for a grocery store and 2) that outside supermarket operators are stripping the community of its wealth by moving “the profits” out of our area, then those people in that Davis neighborhood ought to start their own co-op grocery store, one which carries all the products the neighbors so desire.

    That is not all that different from how the Davis Food Co-op got started. Back in the days when the Co-op was over at 5th & L, it was mostly just a buyer’s club for people unsatisfied with the offerings of the chain grocery stores in town. The original co-opsters wanted things like organic produce and other food they believed was healthy and they thought they could buy them collectively and sell them more cheaply to their members, who provided a lot of volunteer time and labor.

    The Davis Food Co-op was a success then, and has continued to thrive, although they’ve never been cheaper than the chain groceries. But they do provide a quality alternative which never has been matched by the commercial supermarkets in Davis. And from the time they moved over to G Street, they’ve done well as an alternative full-service store.

    If there is as much enthusiasm for neighborhood stores today as there was in the early 1970s for “alternative” stores like the co-op, then that should be the model for these disgruntled neighbors. It should not be to use the force of law to prevent the rest of us from shopping for the best prices and buying the products we prefer.

  18. If people living in a Davis neighborhood without a supermarket really believe 1) that there is enough demand in their neighborhood for a grocery store and 2) that outside supermarket operators are stripping the community of its wealth by moving “the profits” out of our area, then those people in that Davis neighborhood ought to start their own co-op grocery store, one which carries all the products the neighbors so desire.

    That is not all that different from how the Davis Food Co-op got started. Back in the days when the Co-op was over at 5th & L, it was mostly just a buyer’s club for people unsatisfied with the offerings of the chain grocery stores in town. The original co-opsters wanted things like organic produce and other food they believed was healthy and they thought they could buy them collectively and sell them more cheaply to their members, who provided a lot of volunteer time and labor.

    The Davis Food Co-op was a success then, and has continued to thrive, although they’ve never been cheaper than the chain groceries. But they do provide a quality alternative which never has been matched by the commercial supermarkets in Davis. And from the time they moved over to G Street, they’ve done well as an alternative full-service store.

    If there is as much enthusiasm for neighborhood stores today as there was in the early 1970s for “alternative” stores like the co-op, then that should be the model for these disgruntled neighbors. It should not be to use the force of law to prevent the rest of us from shopping for the best prices and buying the products we prefer.

  19. If people living in a Davis neighborhood without a supermarket really believe 1) that there is enough demand in their neighborhood for a grocery store and 2) that outside supermarket operators are stripping the community of its wealth by moving “the profits” out of our area, then those people in that Davis neighborhood ought to start their own co-op grocery store, one which carries all the products the neighbors so desire.

    That is not all that different from how the Davis Food Co-op got started. Back in the days when the Co-op was over at 5th & L, it was mostly just a buyer’s club for people unsatisfied with the offerings of the chain grocery stores in town. The original co-opsters wanted things like organic produce and other food they believed was healthy and they thought they could buy them collectively and sell them more cheaply to their members, who provided a lot of volunteer time and labor.

    The Davis Food Co-op was a success then, and has continued to thrive, although they’ve never been cheaper than the chain groceries. But they do provide a quality alternative which never has been matched by the commercial supermarkets in Davis. And from the time they moved over to G Street, they’ve done well as an alternative full-service store.

    If there is as much enthusiasm for neighborhood stores today as there was in the early 1970s for “alternative” stores like the co-op, then that should be the model for these disgruntled neighbors. It should not be to use the force of law to prevent the rest of us from shopping for the best prices and buying the products we prefer.