Monday, July 23, 2007

Mmm... Burgers...

Well, I did it. I purchased 55 pounds of beef this week. That's one eighth of a cow, in case you're wondering. The beef is delivered to my home, butchered, wrapped, sealed, and all set to take up two cubic feet of space in my freezer. It comes courtesy of Thousand Hills Cattle Company, an organic, grass-fed cattle ranch here in Minnesota.

In seemingly unrelated news, I also just ran across a great article
in the New York Times in which a woman tells all about adjusting to life in Shanghai. She describes life along one of Shanghai's alleys, a delightful and bizarre communal existence. One detail caught my eye: she reports that vendors regularly pass through these alleys, hawking all sorts of common household necessities.

What do these two things have to do with each other?

It's all about urban supply chains. If we can agree that we live in a world in which too much energy is expended transporting things all over the planet (think fresh asparagus from Chile in December flown overnight via 747), then these two examples may show us how it's possible to reduce energy costs and still transport goods.

In the first case, by stocking a hell of a lot of beef at home, I'm saving a fair amount of gas that would be otherwise expended in countless runs to the grocery store. In the second case, residents of the Shanghai alley don't have to travel to various stores for all sorts of stuff, because roving vendors stop by their neighborhoods. In both cases, residents travel less altogether, spend more time at home, and consequently have more opportunity to build community (theoretically, anyway).

There is significant possibility in this different supply chain model. Bring the goods--the store, that is--to neighborhoods rather than the other way around. I just heard recently that there's a traveling farmers market--kind of like a bookmobile--that travels to poor neighborhoods that otherwise wouldn't have access to fresh vegetables. Is this a positive direction?


Blogger Generalissimo said...

Burger Maxims

I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

Have it your way.

Where's the beef?

Big Mac attack!

You gotta eat!

10:47 AM  

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