“The Middlemen,” the seventh episode of “How Great Cities Are Fed,” a monthly talk show about urban food systems, hosted by Karen Karp & Partners founder/president Karen Karp with Ben Kerrick and airing on the Heritage Radio Network, focuses on the role of the middlemen in food distribution, and is now available for streaming or as a downloadable podcast here.
The middleman has occupied a prominent and generally unfavorable position in a great deal of the discussion of farm produce marketing during the past 15 years. In the minds of many, he seems to be an anonymous and mysterious being who somehow or other edged in between the producer and the consumer with the intent of levying toll upon both of them. This episode explores the truths and misconceptions about the role of the middleman, toward gaining a more complex understanding of the vital role middlemen can and do play in our food systems.
The program explores the role of the middlemen, starting with Walter Hedden’s discussion of them in his 1929 book, “How Great Cities Are Fed,” and moves on to analyze how the dynamics shifted over the course of the 20th century and what efforts/innovations are currently being developed for how the middlemen can play a vital, positive role to help better regional food distribution systems.
“How Great Cities Are Fed” takes an in-depth look at 21st-century urban food systems, and how they have changed – or haven’t – over the past 100 years. Inspired by the 1929 book of the same title, this new series brings both contemporary and historical perspectives to the table for fresh and gritty discussions of topics like slaughterhouses, middlemen, rail and highways, street food, public markets, foodsheds, and the “middleman.”
On each episode, nationally renowned food system consultant Karen Karp is joined by guest experts and friends from the food sector, delving into the issues and hidden workings of how our great cities are fed. Importantly, the show will also offer a historical perspective on these issues, illustrating the too-often commonalities of supplier pressure, the evolving role of government, and the increasing impact of technology of all sorts on our food supply.
“How Great Cities Are Fed” offers food-focused listeners an up-close look at the ways that food moves through densely populated cities while targeting urban enthusiasts with an opportunity to explore the history, population, culture, infrastructure, policies, and future of cities.
Host Karen Karp is an engaging, experienced voice on the complicated political and culinary interconnections of how our food supply functions. She has 30+ years of experience working all along the supply chain, and is known, individually and through her work with KK&P, as someone who has faith in systems, big and small, and works tirelessly to identify common ground between sometimes disparate actors along the chain.
Past episodes of “How Great Cities Are Fed” can be heard here.