Good Food Blog
Happy shopperPosted at 11:15AM, 22 October 2008 by Jenni Muir - Food writer
After some years of wishing, our corner of the capital now has its own farmers' market selling everything from bloomers and turnips to unpasteurised buffalo milk and diver-caught scallops. The launch coincided with a spell of sunny weather so the first day had a real carnival atmosphere as locals turned out to welcome the stallholders, and fortunately the customers have kept coming back on subsequent Saturdays. All is well - or is it?
While some of us are thrilled to have such a range of super-fresh, seasonal British produce within walking distance, there are others in the next suburb who campaigned to prevent one opening a few years back. They weren't the slightest bit impressed by reports that farmers' markets helped boost property prices , instead arguing that a market would be too disruptive to residents and would take business away from local shops. Apparently there are similar feelings in some of the retail trade organisations.
If one more butcher tells me, 'No, love, there's no call for that round here,' about a simple cut of meat like brisket, I'll wrap their sausages around their neck
I am keen to support independent retailers, but the shops round our way are not brilliant (nb massive understatement). I'm rather sick of being sold half-dead herbs at high prices, and if one more butcher tells me, 'No, love, there's no call for that round here,' about a simple cut of meat like brisket, I'll wrap their sausages around their neck.
Adding to confusion is the suggestion that not all stallholders at farmers' markets are what they seem, with cynics amongst them passing off produce from elsewhere as their own, according to last year's report in the Sunday Times. It's easy to fool us townies by leaving a bit of dirt on the potatoes! No wonder one customer at our market last week was quizzing the veg man so closely about his farm.
But my neighbours and I have the thrill of the new. There are others who have already become quite disillusioned with farmers' markets , believing they offer too much high-priced ready-made food and hot food (inevitably sausages!) to-go, and not enough genuine local produce. Is that what you've found? Certainly in London 'local' seems to include Somerset and the Isle of Wight.
In any case, we can't live on farmers' markets alone, can we? Nice idea, but what about bananas? Or lemons? And all those other foreign ingredients that have become absolute staples? And do farmers who rear wonderful animals have the butchery skills necessary to make the most of their meat? Not if the mangled pork chops I got last week are fair indication.
I'm still working on the best way for me to use our local market routinely while supplementing it with trips to other shops, and yet not spend my life shopping. A bigger fridge-freezer would help I'm sure, but that ain't gonna happen. Any tips appreciated.