For those of you not in the know, I've been overseas in India and France for the last five months performing a culinary internship. I seized the opportunity to visit local farmer's markets, and food stands along the way. The restaurant I worked for hand purchased produce and other goods several days a week from the market. The quality of ingredients used in preparing our cuisine was phenomenal. We purchase items in season at their peak ripeness. If one of our usual fruits or vegetables didn't look good on a particular day, we didn't buy it. This is the norm for many of the upscale restaurants in l’Hexagone.
The majority of people that live in these areas also purchased from these markets. Not only could one buy produce, but cured meats, cheeses, eggs, meat, fish, jams, bake goods, and many other artisan products were also abundantly available. I can appreciate that here in Chicago, our local farmers markets carry many of these same products. However, what I find is that many of us do not buy exclusively from these local purveyors.
It is my belief that as the demand for goods at the market increases, the long forgotten culture of buying local will be restored. Along with the demand, more variety will blossom. Why should the Europeans reap all of the benefits of primo produce and to die for cheese and charcuterie? It's SO not fair.
Therefore, I would like to propose a challenge. Create your usual grocery list. For one month, one year, or for the rest of your life, make the farmers market the first stop for all of your grocery needs. Buy everything available on your list. Whatever is remaining, purchase at the grocery store of your choice. Imagine the possibilities!