Saturday, January 12, 2008

The downside of success

Now that local eating has become trendy, it's attracting a lot of folks who don't really understand that a farmers' market is as much about forming relationships with the person who produces your food (read: having conversations with them, not simply trading money for food) as it is about actually procuring the edibles. These folks expect the farmers' market to be like the supermarket. They get bent out of shape when the farmer runs out of an item or when a certain item on their shopping list is unavailable. They get impatient when customers and farmers trade recipes or tips. They turn up their noses at funny-shaped carrots or small potatoes or blemished apples. They can't understand why a dozen eggs costs $3 when they're $1.29 down at Wal-Mart. They complain that pastured beef doesn't taste like grain-finished. I guess eventually they'll either learn or they'll move on when the next food trend hits.

I love that so many folks are trying. I hope they won't move on when the next food trend hits -- I hope they'll stay and keep supporting my farmers. But I suspect that means a real shift in stance for some folks, so I think I'm ready to push them a little. Next time someone huffs impatiently behind me while I'm asking one of my farmers how to prepare chive blossoms or telling him how my squash blossom soup turned out, I am going to turn around and clock her explain: Buying food more slowly is not just an annoying but unavoidable side effect of the farmers' market. It's actually one of the reasons we're there.


Veggie Option said...

You go girl!

srr said...

Those women probably try to take a cartful of groceries through the express self-checkout! And they probably don't return their carts to the corrals, either. We know their type. Grrr.

The Baklava Queen said...

Next time, try including them in your conversation: "So what are YOU making with your squash blossoms/etc.?" I think it takes people a while to realize that the community, the sharing, is part of what makes the farmers' market so appealing.... but that's what will keep them coming back. (Mind you, I don't know how they can possibly miss that... my local farmers' market is always a slow-paced stroll where you'll run into at least half a dozen people and stop for conversation!)

If that doesn't work, then you clock 'em. ;-)

Julie said...

I don't consider myself a locavore, but I like knowing (generally) where my food comes from and I like supporting local business. Half the fun of shopping at a farmer's market is getting the salsa recipe for the heirloom tomatoes, or asking what is coming in next. It helps me connect with the idea of seasonality, and the farmer connect with his or her customers. It's not the Quik-E-Mart, folks!

Pattie said...

I'm totally with you. Add my local healthfood store to that, too. I can't go there for less than an hour. My kids were with me yesterday and it always cracks them up. It is such a little store--they can't believe how many conversations we can have and how long it takes!

LA Farm Girl said...

You are so right, it's happened with so many things that have become "trendy" and popular, i.e. organic being watered down, etc. Hopefully there's some way that people like us who write about and support our farmers can show them what the difference is.

I love to check your blog to see what's up in your neck of the woods.

It was actually 38 degrees this a.m. for me here in my beach area of Southern California. I know you are laughing at that!