The People’s Republic of Berkeley Bowl

Even outside of California, the cultural tension between Los Angeles and the Bay Area is legendary—and legendarily entertaining.

That’s why it was so nice to open the Los Angeles Times and find the City of Angels’ paper of record examining the Bay Area’s quirkiest supermarket, the Berkeley Bowl.

Writer John M. Glionna pays respect where respect is due, singing the praises of the Bowl’s amazing produce department. But he just can’t help himself and soon veers off into “look at those crazy Berkeleyites” territory, sharing anecdotes about how produce samplers are banned for life from the store, and how line-cutting disputes are sometimes solved by flinging an unripe avocado or peach.

But one tale makes the in-your-face Berkeley Bowl shopper look quite rational: Bowl devotee Michael Pollan tells how a fellow shopper interrupted him to register disappointment that Pollan was buying Fruity Pebbles for his daughter. Damn skippy! If, after feeling guilty about my dietary transgressions due to reading the veritable avalanche of Pollan’s books and articles, I caught him slipping a box of Fruity Pebbles into his cart, I might be inspired to fling my own unripe avocado at his head.