Great topic today Carole! I love Farmer’s Markets and have done since before they were fashionable. I could also bang on about the Thermomix and how this topic is particularly relevant for us as a family at the moment, but I won’t. Believe me, I will be blogging about Nellie a lot as we build up our repertoire of recipes.
Growing up, we lived about 20 minutes drive away from Middle Farm, in the heart of Sussex downland. It’s been somewhat of a pioneer on the whole organic, home-grown food lifestyle, growing, selling organic, locally sourced and unbelievably tasty food, for as long as I can remember. Going to the fromagerie every Christmas to choose our cheeses was one of both mine and my brother’s highlights of the festive season. The Stilton we brought could blow your mind, and probably instilled a life-long love of cheese in both of us.
During my first marriage, we lived in Winchester, home of one of the earliest, and arguably the largest Farmer’s Markets in the UK. I took an Australian friend round there, Hanno, when he was over visiting Hubs and I, and he was severely impressed with it, while we have Farmer’s Markets here in Oz, they are nothing like of the scale of that one. However, Hubs and I still love going to them. One of the best one’s we’ve been too was out in the Yarra Valley, we found it by accident, just going out for a drive there one Sunday and pulling into Yering Station, we ended up buying some of the best sausages I’ve ever had, chatting to the pig’s owner, breeder and butcher. Picture credit, Australian Traveller.
I could waffle on about the markets, but then I’d end up covering the 10 topics anyway, so here goes:
- Building a relationship up with your food provider. One of the nicest people I have ever dealt with was Dagan James from Broughton Water Buffalo. Yes, there is nothing like driving through the stereotypical English countryside and nearly driving into a hedge because you’ve just caught sight of a herd of Water Buffalo for the first time. It’s been nearly 10 years since I first brought anything from them, but I can still taste that first mouthful. The meat was tender, succulent, tasting like you remember beef used to taste like before it got interfered with.
- The dirt still being damp on your carrots. Now that is fresh. However, I will never forget one stupid woman complaining because they were dirty. Luckily I was just open-mouthed with astonishment, not spurting out a ‘What the heck?!’ at her.
- That if you want to, you can pop in and visit the farm or small holding, they’d be happy to have you and show you around.
- Asking for recipes, what have they been cooking in their kitchen that they’ve loved this week?
- Buying locally, so your food miles are so much shorter. Australian food is proudly labelled ‘Australian Grown!’, but it still could have flown the equivalent distance of across Europe or the USA to get to us though.
- Buying in season, fruit especially strawberries and apples have a season. It’s so the plant and tree can grow them properly and recover, then produce blossom for the insects to pollenate and fertilise and everything! You are not supposed to have them all year round, and if they are available all year round, they don’t taste of anything as they’ve been grown in a hot house and forced out. (I’ll get off my soap box now).
- Talking to people, not just being another customer they have to scan their goods for. I may only buy one thing from you, but I will ask you about it, so it’s a meaningful purchase to me.
- Showing Peanut where food comes from, it’s not just arriving on his plate out the ether. (As an aside, Jenny Craig, and Light n Easy yes you. Ordering pre-packed meals for your weight loss is one thing, saving time and money and all the rest of it, but what on earth do children think when yet another box arrives with pre-packed everything in? How are they supposed to learn how to cook, how to eat a balanced meal, when you just shove it in the microwave and ping it?! One of the adverts had microwave-able scrambled eggs in the other day – blee. And don’t get me started on food packaging).
- Michael Pollan asks us to ‘Eat food, not too much, mostly plants’. That is a whole lot easier to do when you buy locally and in season.
- Food that tastes like food. This should probably be the first one, but we’ll leave it as the last one. Either way, it’s probably the most important. Eating crap means your body can’t tell when you’re full and sated, because we’ve not evolved to eat drive through in our cars, we evolved to rummage around for our food and hunt for it. Until the diet business was invented, we had no need for it. People just ate what they needed to, not too much, because we cherished our food and where it came from, not shovelled it in our mouths in front of the TV.