This post started out as a response to Kim, who wrote:
Why would it look like that and not like your local Farmer's Market? Lots of places have farmers markets that are a lot of little concerns
We would need quite the confluence of factors for farmers markets to work for that:
Your local farmers market would need to be:
1. Open when you can get there (I have to got to the farmer's market in the next town over that's on Saturdays. My town's Farmer's Market is only open Wednesday mornings.)
2. Willing to accept food stamps. (Some do, most don't.)
3. Willing to grow and sell some stuff out of season, unless everyone's willing to give up eating out -of-season foods. (Lettuce is a cool season vegetable. At my local farmers' market, the only lettuce available right now is from a boutique lettuce grower who sells fancy brands groen hydroponically at five dollars a bunch.)
This may not apply in parts of California where the seasons are more even.
4. Open year-round with stuff to sell. Because if it's not, we don't get vegetables between mid-December and early May.
5. Accessible to public transportation. (Though even then, if you have a large family and no car, getting your stuff home will still be an issue. It's less of one at grocery stores where you can stop by every other day and don't need to buy a week's worth of groceries at one time.)
6. Willing to open in less desirable neighborhoods. Not that low-income areas have an overabundance of grocery options now, but occaisionally a big grocery store will open up there and Walmart keeps trying. Ideally, the poor should have access to fresh vegetables, too.
Now, I'm not saying that it's impossible that Farmer's Markets could get there, but at least in my neck of the woods they have a long way to go.
As for the picture in the post below, which is of the local Mom-and-Pop grocery and butcher in Bowling Green, Ohio, the point is that we romanticize small grocery stores because they are cute and we like the idea of knowing our grocer, but the truth is, I think most of us like being able to buy tostadas and thai peanut sauce and guava juice and pectin and leeks and all the weird stuff we like. Small grocers can only stock the basics.
I had a headache yesterday afternoon and we discovered that the little market doesn't even sell ibuprofen. (OK, they don't sell bottles of Ibuprofin. They had little travel packets of Motrin available for 50 cents, but that wasn't practical.) Making an extra run out to a drug store was no big deal, but imagine having to run to an extra store or two every time you needed something that a place with a produce section that looks like this doesn't sell.
I can't help but think that the day of Mom-And-Pop grocery stores was the day when women mostly didn't work and could be expected to have the time to go seven different places to buy everything their families needed.
That said, I don't want every store to go to the Walmart method. I like buying clothes in a store that sells mostly clothes where the salespeople like clothes and can help me pick out something. But for groceries? Viva la Kroger.