Is It Life or Is It Portlandia?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

So today I came across an article in Monday’s Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper, about a local co-op bakery in Durham. It caught my eye because the picture shows someone putting out products at the “Green Flea market” on Saturday. Which of course is my new favorite place. (And which I continue to think of as the Green Market, because that’s what it was called initially, I think it’s a much more interesting name without the “flea.”)

I happened to be at the “Green Flea market” on Saturday and bought the following:

1 watermelon (seedless)
5 peaches
1 avocado
2 limes
1 red pepper
1 cucumber
2 large mangoes
3 oranges
3 plums
approx 1.5 lbs of globe grapes

The watermelon and peaches were $3 each, all of the rest was $10.50. Total spent $16.50.

Ann made friends with the security guard while she was waiting for me to finish up and he and I discussed the merits of the taco place on the front side of the building versus the taco place in the back. I haven’t had the ones in front so I was talking about how much I like the ones in back. Lee, the security guard, said he won’t eat those because they’re cooked in pork fat, he needs to watch stuff like that. He said that someone like me who weighs, what, 110 pounds, can eat those kinds of things.

As we walked away, I said to Ann, “Hey, I don’t need to lose weight — I look like I weigh 110 pounds!” She said, “Yeah, you just need to make bigger friends. There you go!”

I also noted the fact that the food stand inside the building is called “La Casa de los Hot Dogs.” Seriously, La Casa de los Hot Dogs.

So anyway, I’m completely enamored with the Green Market so of course I have to read the article in the Chronicle about Bread Uprising (which I was not familiar with before this article) and it says:

At the Green Flea Market, Bread Uprising was offering focaccia, cinnamon rolls and a variety of different bread loaves to market patrons while distributing brochures that explain the premise and goals of the co-op bakery.

The article also quotes from the vision statement of the organization:

We understand that people’s access to food is limited by oppression in all forms, including the exploitative and dehumanizing relationships structured by the capitalist system, the global dominance of a destructive and profit-driven industrial food system, sexism, racism, heterosexism, transphobia and classism.

And I don’t know what it was, but that whole thing just struck me as so funny¬† — a bunch of communist bread bakers setting up shop at the Green Market, talking about heterosexism and transphobia and selling (or giving away, I think it’s a pay-what-you-can model) foccacia and granola to the patrons there.

Talk about worlds colliding.

I’m just sorry I didn’t know that was happening, I would definitely have looked for it.

6 Responses to “Is It Life or Is It Portlandia?”


  1. Filed in “creeping surrealism”? I wish I could understand how it would work to make foccacia over the long haul and not expect to get paid. Not that I don’t understand the principles of communism, not that I don’t wish that from each…to each… worked. Is heterosexism people who hate heterosexuals the way racism is people who hate those of different races, or is it like feminism where you extol the female? I’ve got to come see this place before the vicissitudes of the nasty capitalism crush it to a powder beneath its bootheel.

  2. Molly McCoy Says:

    This is awesome. I love this kind of stuff from a distance. It confuses me when I get too close, because I can’t quite decide whether I support it or scoff at it and it really scrambles my political sensibilities. (This is my first encounter with the word “transphobia.” Something else to be on the lookout for…. i would imagine it is lurking everywhere but has little opportunity to show itself.)

    As for the business concept — for many years I believed the oft-quoted statistic about how 50% of new businesses fail. It is supposed to make you think that opening your own business is highly risky. After years of observing, I am shocked that the number is that low, on average. The risky proposition is actually opening a business without having any business skills or any business plan.

  3. lessisenough Says:

    Transphobia was a new one to me too. And I think it’s more like 90% of businesses that fail, due, as you note to the fact that most people who start a business have no idea what they are doing.

    Though in their defense, Bread Uprising has been around for a few years and just raised $10,000+ in crowd-source funding. It sounds like they are still working on their business model, and trying to not get caught up in the foodie scene in Durham and stay true to their roots working for food justice. Which is I think what drew them to the Green Market, which is basically 70-80% Latino and 20-30% African-American (with the occasional gringo like me). Just does not seem like the right market for granola and foccacia. That was the really part that jumped into my head as a Portlandia sketch. Especially imagining them handing out flyers talking about transphobia and heterosexism with the granola and foccacia, I just don’t see them getting very far with that in that particular venue.

  4. lessisenough Says:

    @Trish

    “Creeping surrealism” is a term I took from a book by Washington Post writer Joel Achenbach (or probably former Washington Post writer at this point, I’m not sure what he’s up to these days), I believe it’s the title of one of the chapters in Why Things Are. He talks about things that seem like they couldn’t be true, that someone must have made this up, but it’s actually real. I find it applies on a regular basis to things I come across in my life.

    I think heterosexism is a bias toward heterosexual people, without regard to the fact that not everyone is heterosexual. It’s sort of passive homophobia, failure to even recognize that people who are not heterosexual exist.

    And the other thing that I thought was especially funny about this whole situation — and which made it feel appropriate for the creeping surrealism category — is that the Green Market is straight-up capitalism. It’s people selling thing for money. Seems kind of ironic to use it as a base in the war against capitalism.

  5. Rapunzel Says:

    Transphobia. Isn’t that a phobia that chooses to present itself as a completely different phobia?

  6. lessisenough Says:

    Well, could be. But I think in this case it means a fear of transgendered people. Like homophobia is a fear of people who are homosexuals. Or could mean a fear of words that sound the same.

    Oh wait, that would be homophonophobia.

    I think I might have that.


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