How Crunchy Is Your Con?

Though I have strong sympathies with the Crunchy Cons, in no small part because the Alpha Crunchy Con is a friend of mine, I think of myself more as cheering from the sidelines than actually being crunchy. I’m more “scrunchy.” (Bad joke.) I do like the idea of people more thoughtful and frugal about their consumption, and that this is a subject that merits considerable attention, particularly if you accept (begrudgingly, as I do) that marriage has evolved into a consumption partnership. And I like the idea of harnessing new technologies to help people share, swap, and collaborate, and to redemocratize the making of stuff. That’s a clunky phrase, but I think you know what I mean.

My crunchiest hope is that America will at some point give rise to a Migros, in the best case scenario, or at least an Eataly. Migros is more appealing to me because it promises a wholesale restructuring of the retail economy. It would be in some sense no less centralized than the Wal-Mart economy, which I see as mostly a very good thing, but its implicit values would live further up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, if you catch my drift. I understand that worker-owned cooperatives aren’t necessarily superior to the alternatives, but I can’t help but think they’d be happier, more productive places to work. I’d be eager to learn much more on the subject.

As for Eataly, Corby Kummer writes,

Eataly is an irresistible realization of every food-lover’s gluttonous fantasy, paired with guilt-cleansing social conscience—a new combination of grand food hall, farm stand, continuing- education university, and throbbing urban market. Much like Boqueria, in Barcelona, and Vucciria, in Palermo, two of the few thriving center-city markets left in Europe, Eataly draws all classes and ages at all times of day. The emphasis on local and artisanal producers, education, affordable prices, a lightened environmental footprint, and sheer fun makes Eataly a persuasive model for the supermarket of the future—one that is sure to be widely copied around the world.

Which sounds like an appealing fantasy, yet it (seems) to be true.