The Food Hall of the Future

Fletcher alum Andrea Rasca promotes a return to real food through his urban markets
Fletcher alum Andrew Rasca reads a manuscript at a table. Fletcher alum Andrea Rasca promotes a return to real food through his urban markets
Photo: Courtesy of Andrea Rasca
November 21, 2019

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Italian entrepreneur Andrea Rasca, F02, who helped establish the world-famous Eataly food halls in Japan, is bringing a new style of organic international food market to urban centers: his Mercato Metropolitano, a business incubator that aims to foster good health, community, and sustainable development. Mercato Metropolitano’s first location, which opened in London in 2016, drew four million visitors this year, and three more markets are set to open in the city in the next six months. Future hubs are planned for another dozen cities, from Paris and Berlin to Boston and Los Angeles. Rasca, who is both founder and CEO of the venture, told us about its mission.

What problem do your markets aim to solve?
Today, wherever you go, 95 percent of the food being sold in supermarkets and even some restaurants is not food, but an aggregation of fake, dead products—made not to provide nutrition, but to make money and make you ill. The most recent report from The Lancet found that there are more deaths from food today than from smoking.

Another major problem in our society is isolation. People are connected with a thousand friends on Facebook and yet they eat alone in front of the TV. There’s something wrong with this. Eating is not just about food; it’s about sharing a moment with someone.

How do you fix that?
Mercato Metropolitano is designed to address this with a huge open space, communal tables, and even Wi-Fi-free zones, as well as classes and community events. It also has a cinema, a music stage, a small art exhibition area, and a gym. You see all ages, races, and backgrounds integrating in our marketplace.

Who are the vendors?
We only work with the most talented artisans around, and they must commit to our manifesto to provide communities with food that is natural, nutritious, affordable, and sustainable. We give each of them a fully furnished space and connect them with a local network of organic farmers and growers, help them engage with the community, and help them perform better as a business. Our original London market offers more than fifty types of food and eighteen kinds of cuisines—globally inspired, locally sourced—with everything from a wonderful bakery whose bread is made with flour milled directly from heritage seeds, to a fantastic ninety-year-old gelato company that until now had never expanded outside its home in Florence.

Food can be an incredible trigger for well-being, for a better life for everyone. I want to show people you can be a profitable company by behaving ethically, working with and within communities, and creating value not only for yourself, but for the people working for you, and for society.

Monica Jiminez can be reached at monica.jiminez@tufts.edu.


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