This past week, my father and stepmother went to the wedding of a beloved nephew. Lucy, said stepmother, is adorable, English and thin without (much) effort. She may lament her wide, womanly hips, but she is slight, and beautiful and is likely to remain so for the rest of her days – smash cut to a family affair.
The wedding was in Topsham, which wikipedia tells me is “a suburb of Exeter in the county of Devon, England, on the east side of the River Exe.” I pored over the wedding photos for the usual reasons but something wasn’t right.
I stared at the photos for quite a while, not able to figure what was throwing me. The photos looked somewhat canned to me – too perfect, too precious. And then it hit me. There was no obesity. None. Whatsoever. Now this is not to say that the wedding party was made up of crossfit competitors or yoga instructors – this is England after all.
But, flabby? Not one.
When my father told me about the town where they had stayed for the week of the wedding, he remarked on the quaintness, the simplicity. There was a butcher, a green grocer, a baker and a fisherman.
These small, family businesses were the main source of food for the whole town. Sure, they could find a big box store by getting on the motorway and I’m sure the nearest gas station was full of the usual junk. But the junk does not live with the food. It is not in the same category and does not belong under the same roof.
I think there is something to this. There is something to growing up having to go to a candy store for candy and a fruit stand for fruit. Separate means unequal and in this case, to the benefit of a community.
I know I am basing this (thin) hypothesis on a tiny slice of this one wedding, and a mere sliver of this town. But it does bring new virtue to the shopping ways of old and call into question the power of association in the world of food.