Thursday, July 13, 2017

Who Is The Reading Terminal Market For

Awhile back I went to have lunch and do some shopping at Philly's Reading Terminal market. There was some group of earnest rural college kids there on some sort of religious group-linked trip the city, and one sitting next to me while I was chowing down on my corn dog was chatty and earnest. One question he asked me was who this place was for. It's a good question, actually, because it's a mix. It's a bit of a food court for the convention center, though it has some good food the locals go to eat, too. It's a bit of a tourist trappy Amish/Mennonite+high end specialty stall place (those things aren't the same, with the former especially not being expensive, but still a bit of a tourist attraction). And it's a place where locals - including, and maybe especially, poorer locals go to shop for cheap (and often good quality) produce/meat/fish/etc. It's a dessert topping and a floor wax!

One big exception is the Reading Terminal Market, a nationally known foodie mecca, but less famous for accepting more food stamps than nearly any other single shopping site in the state.

For generations, low-income Philadelphians in supermarket deserts such as North Philadelphia have taken the bus to shop at the Terminal, buying produce and pork chops alongside food tourists and high-waged gourmands who think of the place as a gotta-go destination for $36-a-pound artisanal cheese, specialty meats, and innumerable edibles (Beiler’s Bakery doughnuts, anyone?) of varying prices.