I am a nasty, nasty man, for I admit that I find these sorts of stories terribly, terribly amusing:
Farmers markets have become so popular – there are estimated to be about 550 across the UK – that there are concerns they are becoming victims of their own success. The argument is that if they get too big they lose what many feel they are all about: an opportunity for small-scale producers to sell goods produced nearby.
Just as the supporters of Farmers\’ Markets insisted, there is indeed a taste for good quality, locally produced food. Excellent, they worked that out and have built a system which provides exactly that. Might not be my cup of tea but so what, if it increases the consumer surplus of others then a damn good thing say I.
But that taste seems to be quite large, so much so that it looks as if it might turn into a real, large, industry. Horrors!
But then, how do they think the supermarkets, against which they see themselves rebelling, got so large in the first place. By, err, supplying what people wanted to buy, wasn\’t it?
I am waiting for the day that Tescos jumps on the bandwagon and opens a Farmer’s Corner in every shop. The Guardian’s readers would be a little conflicted at that point. Although not, of course, if Waitrose did it I expect.
Does anyone know of any web based farmers markets? I don’t go shopping anymore, preferring the online ordering and delivery service of the major supermarkets. I’m slightly price sensitive, but don’t mind paying a premium for local quality produce.
But the main driver is convenience. I can order from Tesco tonight and get my groceries delivered tomorrow. They carry enough warehouse stock to back that up.
You may be better off finding farms that do deliveries in your area. Go to a farmers market, and ask them about it.
You’ll struggle to get the service of Tesco. The farms that do deliveries round here seem to do it once a week.
This would have been the gold occasion for Tim Worst-of-all (btw is this a pseudonym?) to prove the Guardian wrong but he blew it.
“The argument is that if they get too big they lose what many feel they are all about: an opportunity for small-scale producers to sell goods produced nearby.” This is nonsense. If the market gets bigger because there are more local small-scale producers and more consumers wiling to buy their produce then there is no problem. In most places of the world, Farmers Markets are huge. They are the places where a large proportion of the city population buys their food. The problem in Britain is maybe that your food culture has been so thoroughly degraded that what is normal elsewhere appears to be exotic. Gosh, you are 30 years behind even the US? Unbelievable. But then Britain is the place where the most disgusting kind of bread imaginable (to non-Brits identifiable only as a kind of papery paste) has been invented and successfully marketed. Well, Britain *is* the home country of capitalism. Coincidence?
Here’s the reference (an excerpt from Felicity Lawrence’s book, Not on the Label):
etc. etc. People like Worst-of-all will no doubt contend that this is consumers’ choice. And in part it is true, since people in other countries have never adopted this gruesome concoction that molds itself to your teeth “as though it were dentist’s putty”. But was it informed choice? Did anybody tell consumers how it is made and what is inside?
Tim adds: No, not a pseudonym. The connection between the birthplace of capitalism and the British diet was well explained by Paul Krugman. Try looking up his piece. As to the bread…..you have noted that most supermarkets now have their own bakeries in store? That choice is now larger than before?