Friday, December 01, 2006

Crips v. Canyon Market

The much-anticipated grocery store has opened in Glen Park. As a result of the dogged efforts of neighborhood activists, the initially proposed Walgreen's was denied, as were later inquiries by Whole Foods. Instead, we have an independently-owned, neighborhood-focused food store called Canyon Market. Hooray for us!

The new Canyon Market opened last Tuesday, the day before our ill-fated trip to Lancaster, where they do not have anything resembling Canyon Market. In a Lancaster canyon, you may find methamphetamine labs and dead bodies, but no markets. Not so here in Glen Park.

So far, in the ten days Canyon Market has been open, I have been there four times. Once we went to look around; once I went to buy malted milk balls; yesterday I went to try and buy something for lunch and ended up buying organic peanut butter ($5.49). One night we went there to pick up some fruit and very small bag of Paul Newman's very own pretzels.

Canyon Market is part of a food revolution taking place in middle- to upper-middle class urban neighborhoods: the organic grocery store. You take the time-honored concept of a neighborhood grocery store -- the friendly grocer, the meat counter, produce, everything you need but not as much of it as you'd find at Safeway -- and then make it better.

I will tell you know what a $5.49 jar of organic peanut butter tastes like. In a word: gritty.

But I'm not going to put on my populist hat right now, no matter how much better I would look sans bald spot. I like the Canyon Market. Even more, I like the feeling I get shopping at the Canyon Market, that I am someone who would appreciate the carefully chosen items available there, that I am a sophisticated person who has freed himself from the corporate tyranny of Safeway, and will be eating pesticide-free fruit as a result, that any packaged foods I may buy will at least have cute packaging.

It's this kind of thinking that gets me down to the Ferry Building Farmers' Market occasionally, where I once had the best pear I'd ever eaten. Never mind that there is a grittier, dirtier farmers' market much closer to my house. As I've said before, I'm shallow; I like that the Ferry Building market is nice, attractive and clean, and that, by choosing to shop there I am demonstrating that I am a member of the class of people that shops there.

In order to maintain this, I must keep away from conversations with my neighbor, the Poet with the 48-inch Vertical Leap. He also appreciates the Canyon Market, but wonders exactly who is supposed to shop there. Glen Park is not exclusively an upper-middle class neighborhood. There are many people in the neighborhood, he noted, who probably would have found a Walgreen's very useful, far more useful than the Canyon Market.

Perhaps the three people who were shot on Arlington Street, two blocks from the Canyon Market, last Wednesday, would have appreciated a Walgreen's. Walgreen's does carry Band-Aids, antiseptic spray and other items useful to someone who has just suffered a wound. What use do they have for Newman's Own Organic Popcorn?

The house on Arlington Street is a gang hangout, we later learned. Supervisor Bevan Dufty noted that the police have "had (their) eyes on that house for awhile," and then he went on to assure us, the sophisticated Canyon Market shoppers, that this incident was isolated, and no indicator of an "ongoing pattern."

And so the worlds continue to collide in San Francisco, a very small city (49 square miles) crowded with all kinds of people, the majority of whom fly well beneath the radar while a few loud, college-educated white people presume to speak for everyone. What is the nature of our neighborhood? Are we Canyon Market or Crips and Bloods? By adding Canyon Market to the mix are we being progressive or just a bunch of ivory tower rich people in denial? If you build it, will they come? And will they be armed?

These are growing pains. Soon Glen Park will be another "special" San Francisco neighborhood, like its neighbor Noe Valley, which will be good for home values. All I really want it a place to buy some food, organic or otherwise, so I guess we're already on our way.


Anonymous flush puppy said...

i got nothing, except it's your own damn fault for buying organic peanut butter. THere's a reason they put sugar in it, you know.

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is all well and good, but were the malted milk balls?

11:59 AM  
Blogger zelda said...

i wanted to ask about the malted milk balls and how they compared to the ones at the market in park merced and i am humiliated that i have commented too slowly and someone else has beaten me to it. damn. i should read more often, i have learned my lesson.

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