Amblin' Alameda: Hunting and gathering

Amblin' Alameda: Hunting and gathering

Morton Chalfy

Every city, Alameda very much included, can be mapped in many ways: geographical, population distribution, fauna and flora, wealth, politics and religion. Its most important map for those of us who live here, however, is its commercial one. Food is the basic imperative of life where we go to not just hunt for food but where we go to gather it.

Alameda is full of food options, from the restaurants that line Park and Webster streets and are sprinkled liberally throughout the city to the food markets both large and small. At times - very regular times - we shop at nearly every one of them. Trader Joe's, Nob Hill, the Marketplace, Lucky's, Dan's Fresh Produce and the Safeways on Bay Farm, South Shore and even the new one at Alameda Landing. Each has some of what we want, but none has all of it.

(Full disclosure: We also shop at Costco, which is not, strictly speaking, in Alameda. But hunter-gatherers go where the food is.)

We have food favorites that keep us coming back to the stores that carry those items, and it often seems we're on a merry-go-round of supermarkets, collecting one brass ring here and another there.

We also go out to eat. Often. I'd say we've at least tried nearly every restaurant in Alameda, and the experience is much the same. Without naming names we could be said to frequent many, many Chinese restaurants depending on time of day and end of town we find ourselves in when hunger strikes, but also many Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. And then there are the rest of the ethnic and homegrown offerings: Burmese, Indian, Italian, the plethora of pizza parlors and the diners, which are very numerous and where we've often breakfasted and later dined.

Our ancestors' minds would boggle at the range, extent and number of places offering food. No more spending the day ranging widely over the fields and through the woods searching for edibles to pluck or to kill and watching for predators doing the same thing, with you on the menu. No more toiling in the garden, fighting off the pests and babying the plants just to keep one's belly full.

Now we discuss which of several places we "feel like eating at tonight," because I don't feel like cooking, not even like popping a frozen food tray into the microwave. Truly we've outgrown our evolutionary niche. But among us there are still many who go to sleep hungry, which is a shame on our society given the amount of food we throw away.

We have traded hunting and gathering as a way of spending our energy for manufacturing, retailing and service industry work. Here in our fair city, food is abundant and accessible. It is incumbent upon us to share the bounty. No one in Alameda should go hungry.

The Alameda Food Bank helps to feed needy Island families. For more information on how you can help, click here.