Today Amazon announced a bid to buy Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion. I couldn’t stop myself from writing a quick post about it. This would be a game-changer not only for an already-struggling Whole Foods, but also for the future of sustainable food consumption. I keep imagining crazy scenarios playing out if this deal comes to fruition: Amazon drones delivering local turnips from a nearby farm, ordering organic pita chips for delivery while watching an Amazon-original TV show on my Kindle, checking out at a cashier-free Whole Foods that charges my Prime account automatically. Who knows what could happen.
I’m excited to see where this proposal goes, and I’m even more excited about what it means for sustainable food. It initially concerned me that this might increase the farm-to-table disconnect. If I could order a local, organic, grassfed steak with one click, would I really be engaging with the food I’m eating? Perhaps not in the way we currently think of the farm-to-table experience: counterculture, minimalist, connected to community yet off-the-grid, maybe a little archaic. Perhaps this signals a shift that we’re already seeing. Whole Foods is, after all, the definition of successful integration of organic food into the mainstream, industrial marketplace. The evidence is strong that people want to live, work, and play in the same spaces in our increasingly urbanized world. They also want to shop and eat in those same spaces. So whether that’s a digital space on Amazon.com or a real space in a brick-and-mortar Whole Foods, there are definitely big changes in store for the distribution, purchasing, and consumption of sustainable food. Whatever these changes are, hopefully they’re yummy. And sustainable.