Sustainable racism, grocery edition

So I live in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Los Angeles.  I live here because it is close to where I work, which is at my beloved USC. Yes, I still love USC though it drives me nuts sometimes.

As I recently pointed out, there are million dollar homes in my neighborhood because our little neck of the woods was home to the black entertainers of the 1920s onward who had money but were redlined out farther ‘up the hill’ (toward the Hollywood Hills).  My house has 12 rooms in it, and it’s on an 8,000 square foot lot. In the middle of a very expensive regional housing market.   And we own the smallest house on the block, and probably one of the smaller ones in Wellington Square.  These are not people without money to spend. Yes, when the 10 freeway got planted on the neighborhood, the nabe suffered, as things do when you plant 9 to 12 lanes of constant traffic on them.  But there’s suffering, and  then there’s suffering, and there are black professionals in my neighborhood who are dual income earners, both with much better jobs than mine.

Regular readers will also know I am a frequent consumer of South Central Gardener’s CSA Box.  This box of good-for-me stuff (think lots of kale and other yucky vegetables) has been delivered to USC’s campus in various locations, but it has been moved to a location on campus that is just straight up horrible for us to get to. Usually on CSA (aka commie-pinko) box day, Andy just drives the POS Rescue-Mobile to USC’s campus and picks up me and the CSA box at the same time. A better woman than me would take it on the train, but we usually get the big box of kale, and that’s just more than I can lift.

ANYWAY,  I was very excited to see that a locavore organization called Good Eggs was going to begin delivering the South Central Farmer’s CSA for $3 over the base CSA share cost. Hey,  great. Oh, and look! Lots of other wonderful, lovely edibles!  I love edibles!  Granted, not everybody really wants to buy $16 gallons of almond milk, but hey, I’m in. Sustainability requires extra effort, and  yum! Almond milk.  The company has a great concept, and I love it.  Vegan cashew cheese.  What’s not to love?

$170 worth of tangerines, artisanal chocolate, fresh bouquets and other sundries, including my CSA box in my shopping cart, and I go to check out.  Pick out my delivery area. Ok, fine! Great. They say they deliver to Central Los Angeles, which is where my beloved nabe is…..oh wait.  Here is a map of their delivery areas for Central Los Angeles, slightly modified by me:


Early on during our acquaintance, my good friend Richard Green and I were on a panel together, where I was talking about how great it would be to get a Trader Joe’s south of the 10 freeway. He made light of it: “Oh, everybody wants a Trader Joe’s.” I was on my good manners that day, and Richard is a very nice man,  and being almost brand-new to LA  and not being  justice person, Richard didn’t understand: saying that everybody wants a TJ’s belies the fact that some people can ALWAYS FREAKING GET the TJ’s when other people NEVER get the TJs.   Saying a TJs should try to move south of the 10  as a matter of business ethics is, IOW, more controversial than many affluent people really get because, natch, they know that everybody wants what they already have.  Yeah, but for some people, it’s not about the excellent wine selection and the charming holiday plants.  Some  would like fresh oranges they don’t have to drive 6 miles to get and a pretty good job in retail. And is that asking too much of life in a region of over 10 million people?  I don’t think so.   A grocery store south of the 10 and north of the 91 is a revolution of sorts.  It shouldn’t be. But it is.

But more annoyingly, this is a company selling the South Central Gardener’s CSA! The people in south LA are good enough to farm the food, pick it, and package it,  but not able to buy the box through Good Eggs through their own distributor?  THIS is the sustainable, community-oriented alternative to corporate capitalism? Um, yeah, except that it mirrors the same locational racism of  every other corporate grocery chain, except for Walmart and Target.   I mean Ralphs would go south of Pico.

Yeah, I get it, Good Eggs can’t serve every market.  But yet, they can serve Culver City no problem, but not Leimert Park, though both are right next to each other, and Leimert Park is right on the way, just off the 10,  to South DTLA on the east, which also gets delivery, but not the Round Loop of Blackness carved out in betwixt those neighborhoods in the service area.