Food Mapping: Growing Community at Brookline Grown

Gastronomy student Madison Trapkin shares her food mapping work from Anthropology of Food.

In the metropolitan sprawl that is the Greater Boston area, consumers have a wide variety of grocery stores to choose from. There are major chains like Stop & Shop and Trader Joe’s, or somewhere like Whole Foods if you have a bit more disposable income. For those who live in the vicinity of the Brookline neighborhood, there is also the option of shopping at Brookline Grown, a relatively small grocery store that is bringing fresh, local foods to their clientele. Brookline Grown is one example of the purveyors of local foods and food related products that have been cropping up across the United States that encourage customers (quite literally) to bring the farm to their tables.

In this mapping exercise, I consider Brookline Grown as an example of the larger food movement towards local and sustainable agriculture. I discuss the layout of the store and focus on four specific products, as well as what each indicates about foodways, identity, relationship, and current food trends. There are certain aspects of locally sourced foods and food products that cannot be attained from processed, generic, and otherwise large-scale farmed foods. I also examine the various ways in which buying local can strengthen community bonds and encourage positive relationships with growers and producers of local foods.

trapkin food map

In order to create this  map of Brookline Grown I visited their store. They are located near Coolidge Corner on Pleasant Street. The unassuming exterior of Brookline Grown gives way to the plethora of locally sourced delicacies within its walls. The various products that fill their shelves and baskets are all sourced within a 7-mile radius, which impressed me given their proximity to the city’s elements. Rather than provide an exact to-scale representation of the shop’s interior, I decided to focus on the sourcing of four specific products. I selected items from different food groups in order to provide diverse coverage of the store’s offerings: sweet potatoes, milk, greens, and sriracha (a type of hot sauce). I chose to illustrate one wall from the store and from that honed in on the products I had chosen, including a small map of Massachusetts with every chosen item. Each map of Massachusetts includes a red dot that indicates where the selected item was grown or produced. My goal was to indicate the proximity of production to Boston. Brookline Grown is a proponent of the farm to table movement, which has secured an important spot in this nation’s food history as a direct response to the explosion of commoditized processed foods that began in the 70s. Therefore, it was important for me to emphasize the locality of each item.

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