Walking around SF mission district after work one eve, I came upon a happenin’ joint : Bi-Rite.
It’s a wonderful little place; reminded me of Zabar’s, and Jefferson Market in their earlier days, pre 1980s.
Two narrow aisles with a column of international goodies between and well-packed corner spaces present a wonderful array : veggies, shrooms, herbs, cheeses, oils, olives, meats, fish, wines, breads, sweets, jams, pastas, household and grooming products, and more…
The Shiny New, presenting as Nostalgic. Intriguing, Inviting, and, one could say – as Bi-Rite believes – Socially Conscious.
Then I checked a few prices, and realized : this place is NOT for most working class “blue collar” folks, not for folks on incomes, say, near mine; these are high end goods.
Images of other local, nearby places swim through my mind: bodegas, meat markets, fish markets.
I look around.
There must be 60plus people in here, and one, maybe two are not white, and this includes the staff. All bright shiny happy happy white people. I feel like I’m in New Hampshire.
In the midst of the Mission District.
Because I grew up in NYC, in an international neighborhood, I am always glad to have a nice place to get quality food. I’m a food snob, always have been; and I will do what I have to, including eat less, to eat well; so I shop at any number of these places, especially when I have a flourishing income, which is only sometimes.
But it is hard to walk into this happy white place that has every right to be here, yet seems so separate from the neighborhood it is inhabiting, the neighborhood it is slowly overtaking, with no indication that it cares about anyone but itself – like a steamroller over dandelions.
And what for the population being priced out, once again, to make way for this Shiny New?
GMOs and RBGH?
Pesticides and Bromates?
Toxic chickens from China?
Or can places like this work on us like Starbucks did (remember those bleak days when good coffee could only be found in Little Italy?), and slowly raise the consciousness across the country so that something like decent food will be coming to us all soon?