Feeding Toronto

The Fall of the Food Co-op and the Rise of the Delivery App Economy

From 2015 to 2016 two organizations launched in Toronto with the aim of revolutionizing the way people eat, although they went about it in very different ways. One was the Berry Road Food Co-op (BRFC), which aimed to empower Torontonians to eat more ethically, the other, Uber Eats, which aimed to empower Torontonians to eat more conveniently. Five years have passed and only one of these organizations remains: only one of these “revolutions” has proven successful.

Uber Eats can attribute its success to the logic of capitalism. In its pursuit of capital, our modern food supply chain compartmentalizes and optimizes each step in the preparation of a meal, from growing to processing to packaging to cooking. Uber Eats simply adds another step (delivering) to this chain of alienation, further limiting human connection and making it nearly-impossible to follow one’s meal as it is ushered through the increasingly complex food system, from farm to table, or, in today’s culture of appified eating, from farm to couch. Eating itself has fallen prey to alienation, with shared meals largely a thing of the past. “The family dinner, and more generally a cultural consensus on the subject of eating, appears to be the latest. . . casualty of capitalism,” writes Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma. 1 A food system meant to maximize profit has no use for many things that have been considered, up until recently, integral to eating: tradition, culture, ritual, and community.

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  1. Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Location: Penguin Books, 2007). ↩︎