Friday, July 27, 2007

A Super Market

What did you do during Summer vacation? I went to a supermarket. Actually, I seek out all kinds of markets every time I travel. I try to visit farmers markets, covered indoor markets, tailgate markets, you name it. I like seeing what's on offer, what people are buying and I usually find some great souvenirs. In France I bought rhubarb and prune jam, in Mexico dulce de leche, in Vietnam lotus-scented and flowering teas, in Spain bitter orange marmalade, in Asheville sourwood honey.

The last supermarket I visited was nothing like any supermarket I'd ever seen before. While I didn't actually purchase anything, I did check out every department. What sets this supermarket apart from the rest was that it's an interesting reflection of where many supermarkets might just be heading.

So what does the supermarket of the future look like? It looks a lot more like a high-end specialty market. It features many distinctive departments such as a bakery that continually bakes fresh breads, a wood-fired pizza oven, 300 cheeses, a wine section with over 2,000 wines and a tasting bar with noted guest winemakers stopping by such as Mike Grgich and Suzanne Groth, a gelato bar, sushi made to order, coffee blended and roasted to order, a nut bar with fresh roasted nuts, a Callebaut chocolate dipping bar, Riedel glassware, Williams-Sonoma cookbooks, a beautiful fresh seafood display and a particular emphasis on local products. Store executives explained that in every region there are some specific local products that shoppers seek. At the Livermore store there was an impressive section of Livermore wines, olives and olive oils, not found in any other supermarket. There was local honey too. Not your typical supermarket experience! But maybe someday it will be.

For more about local produce showing up at traditional supermarkets, check out this podcast on NPR