Shopping in Berkeley

–Lauren Ruhland, 2008 MCPP Intern & Science Editor

This Los Angeles Times article explores the Berkeley Bowl, a produce market where you can get lectured about political correctness while fighting for the chance to glance over the 40 different kinds of tomatoes. Despite its location in perhaps the most liberal city in the nation, the proprietors take a hard-line view of property rights– get caught “tasting” produce just once and you’ll be slapped with a lifetime ban:

Store manager Larry Evans says the policy is a fair response to doctors, lawyers and college professors who help themselves to bags of cookies, nuts and vitamins, stick their fingers in pies and guzzle from bottles of sake, assuming the rules don’t apply to them.

“There’s a sense of entitlement to this town,” Evans said. “People think, ‘If I want to do it, I’ll do it, just try and stop me.’ ”

Seven years on the job, he said, has given him insight into the city’s sometimes sharp social elbows.

“Berkeley residents are angry — they’re mad at the president, the economy, all kinds of stuff. And this is the place where it seems to get released, the local supermarket.”

If I’m ever in the area, I think I have to check out the store for myself.  They carry eight different types of mango!  With its wide selection of merchandise, the Berkeley Bowl seems to be doing OK even as the locavore movement is taking off around the country.  At the very least, they’re doing well enough to turn away customers who disparage their employees.

“I don’t like to see them berate employees,” [bowl co-owner Diane Yasuda] said. “I’ll say, ‘I’m sorry, but we just can’t seem to please you. Why don’t you shop somewhere else?’ “


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