Do we choose the supermarket or the local farmers’ market? 

We’ll never be free of the supermarket but we should bridge the gap between food and our community

Being able to chat about how a particular vegetable grows, and how long it takes to grow, are questions that can only be answered at a farmers’ market. Photograph: iStock

Being able to chat about how a particular vegetable grows, and how long it takes to grow, are questions that can only be answered at a farmers’ market. Photograph: iStock

 

“It was the best of food, it was the worst of food. It was the age of imperial abundance, it was the age of famine, it was the epoch of local food, it was the epoch of global food, it was the season of wild and organic food, it was the season of mechanically processed food, it was the spring of small farmers and fishermen, it was the winter of corporate food production, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going to survive, we were all going to die – in short, the period was so far like the present, a time of everything, a time of nothing, we had enough food to feed everyone, but we were starving.”

Most will recognise the original of the above famous statement, which opens Charles Dickens’s 1859 book A Tale of Two Cities. It has been widely used or appropriated, from architecture to politics, and of course, food.

I love the symmetry it offers and do how it explains our current food system. We seem caught between small local producers and giant food corporations. It’s a difficult one to bridge. Do we choose the supermarket or the farmers’ market? 

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I often find the pleasure of pottering around the Galway farmers’ market on Saturday inspires me to cook more. I suppose it’s because of the proximity of the products and the people who are selling. Cooking is never only about what goes in the pan or in the oven. It’s also about the journey that brought you to that place.

Being able to chat about local fish and shellfish, or how a particular vegetable grows, and how long it takes to grow, are questions that can only be answered at a farmers’ market. You’ll also find a myriad of other homemade products from jams to cakes and chutneys.

We’ll never be free of the supermarket and it’s convenience, but we can make more of an effort to bridge the gap between food and our community. So seek out your local market, have a chat and purchase something nice for your dinner. 

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