Lock Up Your Grocers! Wal-Mart is on the Move
Brace yourself Bridget: Wal-Mart announced plans for a “neighborhood” food store this week.
Marketside, a “small community grocery store” (I swear, this is how they are described on the website) will open a handful of locations soon in various Arizona neighborhoods.

The principle here is that Arizonans, and presumably the rest of the country in due time, need a quick meal grocery store option. Marketside will offer “complete meal solutions” to the busy shopper. The store places a heavy emphasis on prepared meals, fresh ingredients and affordable prices. Yes, in theory these are all good things but this whole evil plan leaves a pit in my stomach. First off, I’m concerned that Wal-Mart will apply it’s well-polished business attack of driving small producers out and inflating prices in these neighborhoods they claim to care so much about.
 
Secondly – and I realize this is more my foodie pet peeve – I really don’t think further packaging is good for the American public. We’re living with an obesity epidemic that is due in no small amount to an ignorance of what goes into food. Relying on pre-packaged meals further separates the American consumer from their food; it keeps nourishment knowledge at an arm’s length. /end rant.

Schools Say Good-Bye to Grey Beef Patties
On the flip side, I am loving the growing trend of school cafeterias sourcing their lunches from local sources. Despite growing up in America’s breadbasket, my school’s cafeteria food had the dubious distinction of coming straight from a local hospital and was miles away from anything local, seasonal or (clutches pearls) organic.

Home Grown in DC
I’m simultaneously charmed and jealous to read about DC neighborhoods starting their own small, powerful gardens. Built partially to help offset rising food costs, “A well-planned and maintained plot can yield a continuous supply of fruit and vegetables from May to November.” Really? Sweet. Our outdoor space consists mostly of a container garden but I have big dreams. One day, I hope Mike and I will be able to turn a postage-stamp yard into a veritable mini-farm. Don’t even ask me about the goats. In the meantime, I’ll keep eyeing these neighborhood gardens with envy and add to my long list of “when we have a yard we should grow…”

First the Gas, Then the Foie Gras
The Post’s article on the effects of the one-two punch of rising food costs and a slowing economy has on a restaurant certainly gave me pause. This is the environment that can take a young restaurant on the precipice of folding and shove it right over the edge. DC area diners may or may not feel the reverberations of this. Creative food budgets and menu offerings should keep the average diner from picking up on any change in the air. In other locations, diners may suffer from a strapped manager playing triple duty or the loss of food items that don’t live up to their dollar value. Time will tell.