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The Looming Dystopia of Drone-Delivered Pizza and Walmart Food Halls

From the Editor: Everything you missed in food news last week

Meet your Walmart of tomorrow | Walmart

This post originally appeared on November 3, 2018, in Amanda Kludt’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. Read the archives and subscribe now.

This week on our podcast, my co-host Daniel asked me if I thought UberEats’s goal to have drones delivering our food by 2021 sounded dystopian. Not in itself, no. But that plus all the other UberEats news — that it wants to reach 70 percent of Americans by the end of the year, that some investors have valued it at $20 billion, that its path to success involves getting indie restaurateurs to open generic, online-only, delivery-focused entities — does make me a little uneasy at its potential to shape the future we live in.

Meanwhile, Costco is about to have an outsize impact on the farms and farmland of Nebraska as it supports its 60 million per year rotisserie chicken habit; Amazon will install 3,000 more cashierless grocery stores by 2021; self-driving vans are delivering groceries in Silicon Valley; and Walmart is trying to replace the traditional town square by building food halls, gyms, food truck parks, and entertainment venues in the monster parking lots that ring its Superstores. So, yes, drones. But also this.

Progress, cheap prices, and ultimate convenience, all delivered with the help the gig economy and major corporate interests.

This might be a good time for us to make an extra-concerted effort this weekend to shop the local market, spend a little extra at the neighborhood coffee shop, and, well, support the old-fashioned town square.

On Eater

On the Podcasts This Week

This week on The Upsell, Daniel and I discuss the best food stories of October, including how tablet payments have changed the way we tip, the cheating scandal at the Court of Master Sommeliers exam, Costco’s somewhat terrifying plan to put cheap rotisserie chickens on every table in America, and more.

And on this week’s episode of our business podcast, Start to Sale, hosts Erin and Natasha talk to Dermalogica’s Jane Wurwand about how she built a business on empathy, ambition, smarts, and kindness.

Off Eater