"It's not much but it's ours"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I am going to be honest here. I am rapidly falling out of love with farmers’ markets.

It is not the principle I find to be wrong there is, of course, much to recommend the notion of delivering fresh food direct from producer to consumer without need for a middle-man. But, I have a few gripes.

The first is that, as with so much in this country, we have take what is a sound idea and one that has worked in mainland Europe for centuries and turned it into a fashion item, a trend and a marketing exercise, a way for people to show that they are better than other people because of their purchasing decisions.

This is more true in London than outside the capital, with places like Borough (admittedly not a true farmers’ market) and Marylebone becoming theme parks to be visited rather than resources to be utilized, but the rest of the country will follow, even if, as in other fashion trends, they are a bit behind the times.

My second bone of contention is the farmers themselves. They may be talented at producing terrific food, but they are often appalling at dealing with the public and a recent visit to Marylebone again confirmed that many of the stall holders acted as if they were doing you the favour by being there, not the other way round. Good farmers don’t necessarily make good sales people and middle men succeed because they know how to market food well to the consumer.

However, I know I am in the minority here and the Farmer’s Market trend is growing apace, evidenced by a copy of BACK TO THE FARMER: A GUIDE TO SEASONAL FARM FOOD which crossed my desk a week or so ago

Nick Jones & Nick Forde have compiled a comprehensive list of every farm shop and Farmers’ Market in London and The South East, from some of London’s largest and most well known to those in the wilds of Kent, Essex, Surrey and Sussex. Alongside the pages on each market and shop are useful guides to Britain’s growing seasons, interviews with some of the key players in the Farmers’ Market movement and even a little bit of politics on the true cost of good food.

I may not agree with everything they say in the book, but it is certainly a laudable enterprise and a very useful resource for those whose views are not quite so jaded and cynical as mine.

Available at £9.99 from some local bookshops or direct from their own website

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Blogger Chris Pople said...

Amen to that! Borough Market is basically a glorified food hall - a brilliant place for grabbing a quick lunch, but don't try and do your weekly shopping.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 5:20:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd certainly agree with the 'fashion' way farmers markets seem to be going.

The attitude of sellers/farmers seem to be a bit of a 2 way thing. You seem to get a lot of buyers with the attitude they are doing charity work 'funding' the peasants by buying their wares. Which sparks the counter attitude by sellers. Then again, many of the actual sellers arn't farmers or are hobby farmers at best.

Just my opinion anyway...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 1:21:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry your well-educated British farmers are not as educated (in a practical way) as my locals, and sorry that they're lacking in social charms.

I was delighted to visit the downtown market today to discover Joe Rubin, from Live Earth Farm, with a friend's infant baby strapped to his chest in a Snuggli. Joe never lost his beat: doing the slow-dancing jiggle with the baby, while he weighed produce, advised on recipes, and hugged those of us who love him.

And it's a great market.

We'll have to go there because it's mid-week. We will avoid bongos and patchouli. We will get meat, and we will have a dinner.

XOX from Soquel, where the rain might set in.

Thursday, October 02, 2008 5:32:00 am  

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