Delivering Food Equality
Olympia Auset was inspired by her own experiences when she founded SÜPRMARKT, a pop-up organic grocery store that serves low-income communities in Los Angeles. “I was living somewhere where I had to be on the bus 2 hours to get to fresh, quality food and I decided to do something about it,” Auset says. Even in developed cities like Los Angeles, there’s a massive level of food instability—1.3 million people live in South LA and there are just 60 grocery stores in the area, which means that there are food deserts within Los Angeles county.
Sounds shocking in a city chock-full of chock-full of organic farmer's markets and Erewhon-like health food stores, right? That’s what Auset thought, too. “It's not right that people in food deserts have 3 times the fatalities from preventable disease as affluent neighborhoods, especially in a city like LA where great food is so abundant that 40% of it goes to waste,” she argues. “When I started seeing loved ones pass away due to limited access, and I decided I want my peers to have a brighter future.”
So Auset founded SÜPRMARKT two years ago in order to bring organic produce to more people in LA. SÜPRMARKT is coming up on its’ two-year anniversary, and we’re celebrating Auset’s success—and learning more about how we can support our communities through programs SÜPRMARKT.
Can you tell us a favorite moment from the 2-year SUPRMARKT journey?
On one Sunday last year, we packed up our stand and went home after SÜPRMARKT. A customer called me and said she didn't make it, but wanted to know what I had left so she could purchase groceries. She came to my house and got a bag full of groceries. It was at that point that it really clicked/ became present for me: I am someone's grocer and I provide people with the fuel they use to power their lives. It was a profound realization for me.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The favorite parts of my job are the moments when I get to experience the impact we have had. It happens when a customer sends a photo of food they have made, learns how to use a new ingredient, or when a small child experiences the joy of an organic banana and at least for the moment, choses fruit over junk food. Moments like these let me know all the hard work is worth it and that making organic affordable is impacting people's lives.
What's been the biggest challenge in bringing SUPRMARKT to LA's neighborhoods?
I am grateful and fortunate to have received the support and recognition I have thus far. Thus far, the biggest challenge has been operating weekly to provide produce, and providing health education and outreach with a low budget and just a small volunteer staff. I am proud to say we have been pulling it off for 2 years, but we could be so much more effective with more support and infrastructure.
What's something you wish everyone knew more about?
I wish everyone knew more about the connection between humanity's relationship with food and humanity's upward evolution. When we stop killing animals, we will be able to stop killing each other. When we start valuing and connecting with the land and the hands that produces our food, we will start improving our environments. When we master and overcome our addictions to foods that lower our vibration, we gain the ability to effect change in other parts of our lives. So in sum, I look forward to all of us learning about spiritual, vegan, raw, sustainable food and sharing and using what we learn!
We look forward to launching educational video content in the coming year and launching programing which includes screenings, juice cleanse scholarships, and recipe workshops. In addition, we look forward to expanding to serve more Angelenos-- we hope to serve 1000 Angelenos weekly by the start of 2020! Wish us luck & stay up to date on our latest!