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Farmers’ markets are not a trend

January 12, 2012

For many a trip to the farmers’ market is as natural a part of life as sleeping in a bed at night, but in recent years more and more people have begun migrating to locally produced food and a trip down to Old McDonald’s farm stand. This, of course, should be applauded. In a world where technology and social media is meant to keep us better connected, human beings – especially North Americans – are terribly disconnected from our food.

It’s hard to ignore the explosion of farmers’ markets and the numbers of people that have “discovered” local food. While I will never complain about people supporting local and sustainable agriculture, sometimes it irks me that farmers’ markets and buying direct from growers has become trendy.

Reams of articles and stories have been written in the last few years about the movement towards local agriculture and supporting locally grown food. Yes, it’s important that these issues be covered and addressed, but it’s the manner in which these subjects are tackled that I find frustrating. It’s discussed as if buying food grown close to home is a brand new phenomenon that no one has ever done before. Knowing the name of the person who grew the zucchini in your fridge is abnormal, but cool.

This kind of behavior and relationship with food used to be normal. People didn’t buy all their food in a sterile refrigerated box called a supermarket. Food was fresh, and not fresh from the Made in Mexico box that has been traveling for six days, but pulled out of the ground two hours ago fresh.

Mercato Centrale in Florence, interior

The interior of Mercato Centrale in Florence. Hundreds of vendors are there every day. Image via Wikipedia

Luckily there are places in the world where this culture never left. I spent a month in Florence, Italy last May and while there were still small supermarkets in all the neighborhoods, there were also great big markets where the growers sold their own produce, fresh and dried fruit, meat, cheese, eggs and whatever else you can name. And all these growers and their farms were in close proximity to the city.

It’s sad and odd that North America’s food culture has evolved to what it is. Many North Americans go on vacation and often highlight public food markets where farmers and food producers sell their own food to consumers as such a novel and rewarding experience. And it is. Supermarket culture will never disappear from society, and there are certainly merits to grocery stores (although I don’t understand why they have to be so massive and inevitably end up throwing out spoiled food), but my hope is that buying from local farmers and growers will move away from trend status and become the main method of food purchases for North Americans. Doesn’t that make the most amount of sense?

Salad I made o' vegetables from farmers stands at Mercato Centrale, Firenze

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 13, 2012 1:10 pm

    I remember when I first saw that photo of your salad. It made me so hungry, and jealous, but mostly hungry.

    • January 14, 2012 3:14 pm

      Twas it delicious, it was. I would make it again, but all the vegetables are from South America right now. Not cool.

  2. January 19, 2012 6:56 am

    I miss our salad party times!

    good times… I still need to find some LONDON farmers markets!

    Soon…

    OR GUMMY MARKETS!

    • January 22, 2012 6:17 pm

      Obviously finding a gummy market is more important to do first. You can’t live on vegetables alone.

      Salad parties for life!

  3. September 21, 2012 7:40 am

    Strange how food has evolved in North America. It’s so far from the land. How do we get back is a very good question. I’m all about the back yard garden! Good points!

    • September 21, 2012 5:59 pm

      It’s very rewarding – and a lot of fun – to grow your own fruits and veggies. I think it’s also a great way to try new foods that you may not have a chance to if you only bought your food at a supermarket where they sell only one type of zucchini or two types of tomatoes!

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