Small fridge = good city

By Bryan • Kingston, surp, urban planning • 4 Nov 2008

That was one of the wrapping ideas of architect Donald Chong pushed through during his guest presentation this morning, the notion being that an essential component to improving cities actually begins inside the home embracing the ideas of seasonality and local food markets instead of hoarding food stuffs in giant freezers, pantries and fridges.

I generally find myself in agreement with the premise. Fresh, locally grown food stuffs, support of local agriculture, increasing food security and developing community relations with local vendors = diverse, interesting and vibrant urban areas.  It reminded me a lot of my living conditions while in Nanjing.  While I can’t vouch for the locality of the food stuffs I was purchasing – I did have good relations with the various venders in and around my apartment, I never found myself traveling for more than 50 meters in search of any essentials and my fridge was never full.  I like to think of those years as a ‘right-sized-life’…barring of all of those travels I managed to squeeze in…:-p

Looking at my shopping patterns in Kingston over the past two months, I can’t say that this strategy is easily employed to my current living location/situation.  I live in a predominately residential area, and while there is a very good corner store about 10 minutes up the street, the proprieters open late and close early – which doesn’t jive well with a student schedule.  Most of my grocery shopping occurs downtown to take advantage of the farmers market, but the distance is a stretch without a vehicle and the bus runs every 30 minutes which I think acceptable if one’s timing is good, but creates annoying problems if a bus is missed by a few minutes.  A round trip shopping expedition for any item is likely to take at least one hour and that is assuming that I don’t tie in a visit to the university.

To be filling up on food every two days or so via bus/foot I find is difficult, even for someone who really isn’t that far from the fresh and local marketplace…and isn’t even really in the suburbs…and I don’t even have a full-time job.   I manage once a week grocery shopping which includes about 2-3 days worth of fresh items from the farmers market.

I dig the theory and I think it would work great for high-density areas, but when was the last time you saw anything resembling local/fresh food in the ‘burbs?  Unfortunately, the present fabric just isn’t very accepting…

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4 Responses

  1. What about embarking on a major market day every week? or 2 weeks then?

    I live in a residential area too, but it’s really great that a wet market is a few minutes from our place only.

  2. I find that my shopping habits change weekly – last week, for example – I did’t have any food at all – I just ate on/around campus. Once a week is probably the best approach but that assumes that I will eat all of my perishables in that time – which I often don’t given my somewhat odd hours.

  3. Sue Crosby

    I always chuckle when I hear stuff about the “100 mile diet”. Guess what I can buy that is grown within 100 miles of my home??? Nothing. I know that most people in Canada live within 100 miles of the american border and the greenhouses of Surrey and Niagra but there are a few of us who don’t and must use our freezers and stock up or we would starve. Can’t live on moose meat and blueberries alone:)

  4. That idea definetly is an urban ‘elite’ desire. Northern Communities are a entirely different story. A northern individual’s lifestyle footprint is massive compared to the average city dweller, but the overall population is small enough that the whole footprint probably remains tiny relative to the city.

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