In 2007, when we were thinking of moving to Berkeley, we kept coming across references to the Berkeley Bowl in articles and property listings. ‘Close to BART and Berkeley Bowl’ they would say. ‘4 bedrooms, quiet street, close to Wholefoods and walking distance to Berkeley Bowl’. ‘What’ we wondered, ‘is this local magnet that seems so essential and so desirable? Why did everyone mention it? At least we knew that BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) was the train into San Francisco, so maybe BOWL was Berkeley Old Women’s Lounge, or Berkley’s Oldest Wildest Lodge. I never imagined it might just be a grocery store. Admittedly, a grocery store like no other but, well a food shop when all is said and done. Here in California, food can be almost a religious experience and shopping for food is akin to visiting the house of your god. When so much processed food is rammed down the throats of Americans by gigantic food corporations, as so well documented by foodbabe, the Berkeley Bowl is a place to absorb the energy of huge amounts of fresh, gorgeous looking food, and marvel at the sheer invention of mother nature. I went there the other day and they had about ten different kinds of squash, sweet potatoes and onions, overflowing but neatly and beautifully arranged. You can read more about the store on Berkleyside and the comments section will give you an insight into the customers, specially those who don’t bag their own groceries. How I wish every impoverished area and food desert had better access to fresh vegetables and fruit, and the joy of looking at such gathered beauty. Being English and polite, we always bag our own of course.