One of my favourite blogs linked to an interesting site the other day. Among other things this site has a collection of pictures depicting old mailboxes in New York. I was recently discussing the number of old milk slots that remain on the houses in my neighbourhood. Ours was removed in a renovation before we bought the house, but many of my neighbours have simply boarded up the inside without changing the outside appearance. This particular area of Hamilton contains homes built in the 1950’s so some now archaic elements were included. Down in the city you can still find the odd coal shoot, or other now useless bit of historical architecture. It always makes me think about the ways our society has changed in the last 60 years, and how to some degree we are trying to move back to the past. For example, increased promotion of farmer’s markets and eating locally is an attempt to rekindle agriculture near urban areas. My grandparents had their milk and eggs delivered by the farmers who produced them. Thus they had a relationship with the person who brought them their food. They also knew their local butcher, and even the baker who made their bread. Part of urban life was interacting with the people who produced and prepared much of your food. Obviously with mass chain grocery stores we no longer have those kinds of relationships.
It may be obvious to people who read my blog regularly but I believe that improved interpersonal relationships are a key part of creating a better society. I expect consumers to find greater respect for producers by reconnecting with the people who provide goods and services, especially food. There have been reports that this relationship is deteriorating more and more every year. Along with all the environmental and economic benefits of eat locally, perhaps it is time to start fixing some of the stress generated in the retail world. The past can’t always help us fix our society, but perhaps this is one case where it can have an impact.