Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Slow Food and Carlo Petrini


Recommended Posts

Isn't the world's ultimate seed bank somewhere in Norway?  And Slow Foods doesn't have a thing to do with it?

I read an excellent article on this in the  last couple of months in New Scientist but do not have the time to run it to ground.

And here it is:).

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18925343.700

Just in case the link dies:

WITHIN a large concrete room, hewn out of a mountain on a freezing-cold island just 1000 kilometres from the North Pole, could lie the future of humanity.

The room is a "doomsday vault" designed to hold around 2 million seeds, representing all known varieties of the world's crops. It is being built to safeguard the world's food supply against nuclear war, climate change, terrorism, rising sea levels, earthquakes and the ensuing collapse of electricity supplies. "If the worst came to the worst, this would allow the world to reconstruct agriculture on this planet," says Cary Fowler, director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, an independent international organisation promoting the project.

New Scientist has learned that the Norwegian government is planning to create the seed bank next year at the behest of crop scientists. The $3 million vault will be built deep inside a sandstone mountain lined with permafrost on the Norwegian Arctic island of Spitsbergen. ...

The vault's seed collection, made up of duplicates of those already held at other seed banks, will represent the products of some 10,000 years of plant breeding by the world's farmers. Though most are no longer widely planted, the varieties contain vital genetic traits still regularly used in plant breeding.

And this sentence, which any self-respecting writer can admire:

It will not be permanently manned, but "the mountains are patrolled by polar bears", says Fowler.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First, great conversation! Thanks to all whether or not you agreee/belong -- let's enjoy a vibrant dialog!

I cannot disagree with much of what has been said but, in fairness, a farmer really must determine what he/she must charge for goods and price them accordingly. If the market cannot bear it, they will figure it out. To say that charging more than X for any item constitutes price gouging is ludicrous.

Of course product in grocery stores is priced artificially and propped up by chemicals, mechanization and subsidies. It is disingenuous to blanketly challenge any subset of growers for their pricing. I daresay the growers who sell at Ferry Plaza pay more for their stalls, gas from field to market, etc, etc, than possibly any other growers in the CON US. Why would their goods not cost more?

And the ultimate is that people will complain about food prices readily but don't bat an eye at other gouging that goes on all day long. I am constantly surrounded by people who drive SUVs 40 miles RT to work (alone, without riders, tools, or any legitimate reason). But Steve and his compadres at Ferry Plaza are gouging. I think not.

Edited by moosnsqrl (log)

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First, great conversation!  Thanks to all whether or not you agreee/belong -- let's enjoy a vibrant dialog!

I'm with you on this sentiment!

And the ultimate is that people will complain about food prices readily but don't bat an eye at other gouging that goes on all day long.  I am constantly surrounded by people who drive SUVs 40 miles RT to work (alone, without riders, tools, or any legitimate reason).  But Steve and his compadres at Ferry Plaza are gouging. I think not.

I know (or can imagine) the people you're talking about, but I'm pretty sure that the shopper trying to feed four people for a week on $75 does not belong to this class. It was that person I was concerned about in my post.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know (or can imagine) the people you're talking about, but I'm pretty sure that the shopper trying to feed four people for a week on $75 does not belong to this class.  It was that person I was concerned about in my post.

For the last year, I was feeding a family of two on $75 a week (few economies of scale. 4 would have been easier) in Los Angeles, California. $75 was the average, and we needed to stay in that range because my partner was unemployed and I was underemployed. The months when the Culver City or Santa Monica farmer's market had a good variety of produce, we usually could come in under budget and afford meat easily. The winter was rough. Lots of beans, and even if we made good use of frozen produce, we'd often go over budget.

Even at the fanciest farmer's market, there are good buys. At the height of summer, we were running around $10-20 under budget, because seasonal produce is so much cheaper. And well, even California has seasons. It may not look like it when you hit a farmer's market, but they're there. If all you see is the variety, you might think it's all expensive shipped in produce. Nope. CA has long and strange seasons for a lot of vegetables and fruits, and the best ones come in at times you wouldn't expect. And state law forbids selling anything at a CA farmer's market except food grown in CA.

I suspect Mr. Petrini found the market confusing. The markets in LA tend to have lots of very well dressed women, with strollers or Louis Vuitton bags. They also tend to have college kids and unemployed or flat out poor people. You'll notice (and be annoyed by) the rich lady blocking the entire path a lot more than you'll notice the poorer lady herding her 4 kids through the market at blitzkreig pace. And the rich lady will leave you trapped at the most expensive market stalls while she "samples" a generous snack of fruit. The poorer lady will not block traffic as much, and understands the phrase "excuse me". He probably also missed that the market takes food stamps and WIC. Add in that in the back of his brain he was probably seeing a $4 peach as a 4 euro peach, and his shock gets very understandable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From today's San Francisco Chronicle:

Showdown at Slow Food

It seemed like a natural -- Slow Food's Italian founder, Carlo Petrini, would sign copies of his latest book at San Francisco's Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, arguably the slowest of all food markets in the country.

But the plug was pulled abruptly after some of the market's management and farmers read what he'd written about Ferry Plaza in his book "Slow Food Nation."

. . . .

Instead of a book signing, Petrini and a translator found themselves in a meeting last Saturday with a few of the market's best-known faces -- among them Nigel Walker of Eatwell Farm and Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo -- along with Dave Stockdale, executive director of CUESA, which runs the farmers' market.

At stake in the meeting was not only the book signing, but efforts to bring CUESA and Slow Food together to work on Slow Food Nation, the four-day artisanal food event planned for 2008 in San Francisco . . .

My favorite line is from Erika Lesser: "It's definitely awkward."

My other question is, if Slow Food Nation is going to be all regional products, how is it different than the ferry building or the farmers market itself? Jam producers or cheese straw makers that can't get in to CUESA?

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting situation but I hope it doesn't derail potential good coming out of the combined forces - we would all be the losers for that. Maybe trying to do a "one size fits all" to fix very different things that are "broken" in different parts of the world isn't realistic? Clearly the issues in the US (obesity, chemicals, etc) aren't the same ones faced in areas where starvation is the biggest problem. I'd like to think there is room for anyone who wants to address any of these things but don't blame anyone for being insulted -- assuming we have all of the facts and the translation problem wasn't really the problem.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know (or can imagine) the people you're talking about, but I'm pretty sure that the shopper trying to feed four people for a week on $75 does not belong to this class.  It was that person I was concerned about in my post.

For the last year, I was feeding a family of two on $75 a week (few economies of scale. 4 would have been easier) in Los Angeles, California. $75 was the average, and we needed to stay in that range because my partner was unemployed and I was underemployed. The months when the Culver City or Santa Monica farmer's market had a good variety of produce, we usually could come in under budget and afford meat easily. The winter was rough. Lots of beans, and even if we made good use of frozen produce, we'd often go over budget.

To add another data point to this one, I note that my own food dollar goes farthest when I spend it on produce at the Reading Terminal Market. Well, actually, it goes even farther when I spend it on produce on 9th Street, but if you can use only one of the six cucumbers you paid $1 for before they start to rot, then that's no bargain.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I added a post about meeting Petrini on my blog. It's mostly the same stuff we've gone over here so I won't reprint it. RG blog about Slow Pt 2.

After all this, I still think Slow can do a lot of good, but again, they need to let each country figure out the best way to fix their own problems. I think the well of Carlo Petrini is only so deep.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Could Mr. Petrini perhaps be Eurocentric? How old is he, anyway? And how much has he traveled in the USA?

I'm wondering how offending the hard-working vendors at the SF market helped "his" cause.

I was wondering the same thing: How much has he traveled and grocery shopped in the US? Prices for produce and meats are much higher in the US than they are in Italy, even taking into account the euro/dollar exchange. If he was comparing prices to Italy, he was already way off kilter.

I suppose there is no way of knowing how much research he did, and I'm talking out of my hat because I haven't read the book.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He sounds pouty and petulant to me. I think the personal/financial/social/recreational lives of those that grow, buy, and eat the produce is completely irrelevant.

Furthermore, there are many, many people that are aware of the Slow Food movement (and agree with what they loosely understand the goals to be) that now patronize their local farmer's markets, but have never heard of Carlo Petrini.

Seems to me that he's pretty typical of various "founders" and other creative types that get miffed and peevish when their creation takes on a life of its own and no longer needs an authoritative captain to steer the boat.

PS - Edited to add how tickled I was to read that our own Rancho Gordo argued with Mr. Petrini "in Italian."

So there, Carlo. :raz:

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

PS - Edited to add how tickled I was to read that our own Rancho Gordo argued with Mr. Petrini "in Italian."

So there, Carlo.  :raz:

Anche io! Bravo, rancho_gordo, e che bruta figura, Signor Petrini!

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm almost at a place where I can separate SF from Petrini, even if Slow Food USA can't. I think the potlucks, the discussing food politics and information gathering are all valuable tools. I also think their role as Gabriel blowing the horn is great. But they're one of many groups, not even the most important. And clearly they have some management problems. All they had to do was say, "We're sorry. We screwed this one up." and this thing would probably have blown over. Instead, it's building steam. Instead of an apology or an excuse, they just smile blankly and say (literally this happened), "We're the biggest organization of our kind, you know."

Hello??!? Calling Dale Carnegie!

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was wondering...How much has he traveled and grocery shopped in the US? Prices for produce and meats are much higher in the US than they are in Italy, even taking into account the  euro/dollar exchange. If he was comparing prices to Italy, he was already way off kilter.

I suppose there is no way of knowing how much research he did, and I'm talking out of my hat because I haven't read the book.

Funny. Granted, it's been almost four years since I've bought groceries in Italy, but at least in Florence, prices for most things were often higher, especially for meat, poultry and seafood if not wine, top-quality cheese, farro, honey, Greek yogurt, the most amazing butter...sorry, I'll end the nostalgic longing.

Look, the guy was obviously an elitist, chauvanist snob as well as a jerk while visiting California, and Slow Food has a lot of damage-control ahead of it.

For me, much of the hypocrisy or ugliness lies in the realm of socioeconomics or class and since I do not wish to transgress rules of decorum when it comes to good manners and sensitivity to others myself, I will be tactful.

I don't know enough about Petrini, let alone the history of Italian agriculture and groceries to write as informed a post as I would like. Please correct me where I am wrong and forgive gross generalizations.

However, based on what I've seen and the little I've learned about the subject, aristocratic families produce wine, and in some cases olive oil. There is wealth and lineage here if not in every facet of wine-making. Preserving the regional integrity of prized wines--terroir--is dear to Slow Food--so I am inclined to believe Petrini is familiar with wine makers. The major families wear Burberry, speak several languages and own the kinds of dogs formerly associated with princes (Cf. thread on the movie "Mondovino"). The "new money" of major manufacturers and businesses? I know nothing. So-called "artisinal" products such as prosciutto or Reggiano? Ignorance there, too.

When it comes to the people who grow wheat and vegetables down South, from the little I've read, I gather that much of the agricultural system was virtually feudal until only 3-4 generations ago. Now a chef here in the United States, Fabio Trabocchi suggests that the threat of poverty drove members of his family out of farming and into new trades. The people from whom I've purchased food at markets, little grocery stores, bakeries and supermarkets do not seem to enjoy the same privileges or professional options that Petrini seems to have had, nor the advantages of the well-heeled shoppers who pick up a little something here or there on their way home in the evening, although rarely at the places I frequented.

I have to wonder if the idea of a college graduate or laywer chosing to become a farmer, or selling beans at a market seemed a bit odd to Carlo Petrini. Was there something about the ways farmers and their regular customers chatted with one another that didn't correspond to his own interactions with the folks who produce the local regional specialiities that his organization champions?

* * *

Rancho Gordo's latest blog entry makes one point in particular that strikes a chord with me: the fact that in Italy food culture is deteriorating and in the United States, we've already been there and are trying to do something about it.

First, I am sure the resentment felt towards the United States stems not only from fast food franchises, but also the supermarkets and U.S.-style work-schedules that draw shoppers away from market places and into Essalunga at night. Second, because we have already been there, and because we are just starting to embrace the food culture Italians are trying to retain, it makes sense to keep SF an international organization. As far as I'm concerned, SF has to do a lot more to strengthen its appeal even to the converted.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I keep that hypothetical shopper trying to feed a family of four on $75 a week (or two -- apparently it's harder if you're feeding fewer mouths, because you can't take advantage of economies of scale, which are also present in the supermarket...) in mind as I read this.

I should perhaps peruse that topic about the food stamp diet, for something tells me that to make that work, you're not going to be buying lots of artisanal anything at all.

You can, however, buy lots of conventionally grown produce and do quite well at feeding your brood. And you'll be eating better than if you spent an equivalent amount on Hamburger Helper.

Not to mention the nutritional benefits. (An aside: There is now a very bouncy, very catchy jingle drilled into my head courtesy of a local social-service agency that sponsors health tips on a local radio station at 5:15 every afternoon, just as I'm on the way home from work. The agency encourages listeners to "Join the WIC program! Good nutrition today...for a healthier tomorrow." And some of those tips involve eating right for you and your baby. I don't think they ever bother to address where what listeners eat comes from; their main concern is what they eat, period. Your WIC check is good at farmers' markets in Pennsylvania.)

I guess what I'm getting at is that in a sense, this discussion is a bunch of affluent folk looking down their noses at another bunch of affluent folk, and the people who might in theory benefit most from some of the changes being advocated are completely missing from the picture. They are at the supermarket because it's cheaper, along with the affluent folk who don't like spending lots of money (or time) on food.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is an article dated yesterday, May 17, where Carlo speaks of his recent visit to America.

In today’s edition of the major Italian daily La Repubblica, Slow Food president Carlo Petrini recounts his first impressions of a book-signing tour that, from May 7-24, is offering him a veritable coast-to-coast overview of gastronomy in the USA. So far he has been pleased with what he has seen.

He’s impressed by the new American model.

‘Here everything is the other way round. There’s a prevailing simplicity that seems designed to exalt the natural characteristics of vegetables, meat, fish and condiments, all prime quality, all local. This ‘alliance’ between cooks and farmers … has already reached such a peak that, nowadays it’s possible to speak in terms of an ‘Earth cuisine’, in which naturalness rules, together with origin and seasonality.’

Petrini praises the work of American farmers.

‘ Some supply top chefs but, at the same time, sell their produce to hospitals and offer a helping hand to school garden projects.’

He backs up the concept with an example.

‘One of my most memorable experiences was in the Sanchez school in a poor neighborhood San Francisco, where 90% of pupils are the children of Central and South American immigrants … Here there’s a well developed school garden project and it was exciting to be accompanied by a horde of noisy, cheerful kids among their tomatoes, broad beans, runner beans and flowers. Speaking in Spanish, they told me about what they were growing with a knowledge and pride that I found quite moving.’

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I keep that hypothetical shopper trying to feed a family of four on $75 a week (or two -- apparently it's harder if you're feeding fewer mouths, because you can't take advantage of economies of scale, which are also present in the supermarket...) in mind as I read this.

I should perhaps peruse that topic about the food stamp diet, for something tells me that to make that work, you're not going to be buying lots of artisanal anything at all.

You can, however, buy lots of conventionally grown produce and do quite well at feeding your brood.  And you'll be eating better than if you spent an equivalent amount on Hamburger Helper.

Not to mention the nutritional benefits.  (An aside:  There is now a very bouncy, very catchy jingle drilled into my head courtesy of a local social-service agency that sponsors health tips on a local radio station at 5:15 every afternoon, just as I'm on the way home from work.  The agency encourages listeners to "Join the WIC program! Good nutrition today...for a healthier tomorrow." And some of those tips involve eating right for you and your baby.  I don't think they ever bother to address where what listeners eat comes from; their main concern is what they eat, period.  Your WIC check is good at farmers' markets in Pennsylvania.)

I guess what I'm getting at is that in a sense, this discussion is a bunch of affluent folk looking down their noses at another bunch of affluent folk, and the people who might in theory benefit most from some of the changes being advocated are completely missing from the picture.  They are at the supermarket because it's cheaper, along with the affluent folk who don't like spending lots of money (or time) on food.

Sandy, I agree with your points about making clean food available to the masses. It's distressful that organic and/or local foods are expensive, more expensive than conventionally grown. (I love that new term: conventional. So pesticides and massive subsidies are now considered conventional.)

But, I'm not clear on who you are referring to when you say the affluent are looking down their noses at the affluent. Do you mean the farmers at the market are looking down on the head guys at Slow Food? Or Slow Food head honchos looking down their noses at the customers at the market?

The Slow Food head honchos seem to fallen into the dreaded trap of self-importance, but the local movements are on the ground, trying their best to save our heritage. Let the talking heads talk, but please, farmers, don't stop doing what you do. We, the non-farmers, need you very, very much.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Today there was a sweet young couple shopping the market. They were in their early 20s, obviously not so wealthy and they were carrying around some tomato starts and some vegetables and considering a bean purchase. I looked and them and thought, How great, here's a new generation excited about food. They were too young to have much experience in the kitchen or garden but if they were on the fence, all they would need is to read Petrini's book to plant the suspicion (or confirm it) that they were getting ripped off and that the cognoscenti were laughing at them. To me, that's the crappiest part of all this.

Today at the market was hysterical. Some of my regulars took me to task for calling them "dowdy" while others asked if there was an actress discount. Two people brought me wine and another customer came up with this:

sando.jpg

Slow Food is making this worse by their silence. the story is building steam rather than losing it.

Edited by rancho_gordo (log)

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Could Mr. Petrini perhaps be Eurocentric? How old is he, anyway? And how much has he traveled in the USA?

I'm wondering how offending the hard-working vendors at the SF market helped "his" cause.

Very good point. So many different perspectives... An open mind is a good thing.. Mr. Petrini should take note.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I keep that hypothetical shopper trying to feed a family of four on $75 a week (or two -- apparently it's harder if you're feeding fewer mouths, because you can't take advantage of economies of scale, which are also present in the supermarket...) in mind as I read this.

I should perhaps peruse that topic about the food stamp diet, for something tells me that to make that work, you're not going to be buying lots of artisanal anything at all.

I've seen quite a few people using food stamps at the Clark Park Farmer's Market. And what about the market in the firehouse on 50th and Baltimore? Granted 34th street is a lot nicer these days than when I was living there, but neither of these neighborhoods are what I would call hotbeds of Philadelphia's affluent elites.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have more than a dozen markets throughout the KC area and you can see what you want to see there . . . boomers in Volvos, xers on foot, affluent, working poor, homeless . . . and I have seen the same at Ferry Plaza. We had a thread here some time ago about markets and are the farmers gouging, etc. All I can say is, if you think the prices at your local market are unfair, volunteer to work in their fields for one day. That will solve the whole situation. And that doesn't even begin to address the risk and the cumulative exhaustion that sets in throughout the growing season. If most of us were trying to make a living on produce, you would see $5 tomatoes (or peaches, or . . .) Those things don't grow on trees, ya know! :wink:

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not so sure I agree with the notion that farmer's markets are primarily for the affluent, excepting perhaps the more relevant fact that higher levels of income seem to result in higher levels of education.

Where I am currently living, in southwest Missouri, there are many farmer's markets and roadside stands. The land around here is rich and fertile and folks have been tilling the soil and enjoying the rewards of fresh produce for centuries. At the main farmer's market (held in the parking lot of the local mall, and open from April through October, Tue, Thur, Sat), there are always large numbers of shoppers that certainly don't look affluent. In addition to accepting food stamps, there is a policy of selling for very little and even giving away food that doesn't look pretty enough to sell. Sure, you have to cut out some bad spots, but you can acquire them for pennies, and often not even that.

At the end of last summer, I got a huge box of corn for nothing. I arrived rather late in the afternoon and was sorry to see that all the corn was sold. "I think there's some in the giveaway box," the proprietor of that stand told me. "We're closing up for the day, so you can take it all if you'd like it."

The corn had worms, but after I shucked it and sliced off the kernels, I had enough corn to fill a Dutch oven, and boy was it good.

The Amish maintain a very large agricultural presence around here. They make it known that anyone that would like fresh produce and cannot afford to pay the prices (which are competitive with local supermarkets) has only to ask.

I don't get a sense, here anyway, that it's only rich folks walking around the farmer's markets loading up on tasty tomatoes, melons, onions and cukes.

:cool:

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Related to all this is the Becks and Posh website which does a price comparison between her purchases at the market and Safeway. It's eye opening.

Edited by rancho_gordo (log)

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sandy, I agree with your points about making clean food available to the masses. It's distressful that organic and/or local foods are expensive, more expensive than conventionally grown. (I love that new term: conventional. So pesticides and massive subsidies are now considered conventional.) 

But, I'm not clear on who you are referring to when you say the affluent are looking down their noses at the affluent.  Do you mean the farmers at the market are looking down on the head guys at Slow Food? Or Slow Food head honchos looking down their noses at the customers at the market?

The latter. Neither Petroni nor the people who attend his classes and workshops (based on descriptions of them here) strike me as that much different, socioeconomically or educationally, from the people he derides in the essay.

The producers (whether or not they are the actual farmers) at the market are simply doing what they enjoy doing. And if they can do it in such a way that they have time for other passions, there's nothing wrong at all with that. Nor is there anything wrong with their making out like bandits, if indeed they do, although if they do, I hope they devote some of their wealth to making foods like what they grow and sell more accessible to "downscale" consumers.

The Slow Food head honchos seem to fallen into the dreaded trap of self-importance, but the local movements are on the ground, trying their best to save our heritage. Let the talking heads talk, but please, farmers, don't stop doing what you do. We, the non-farmers, need you very, very much.

Agreed 100%. Pennsylvania's agricultural heartland faces tremendous pressure from the growth and expansion of the two metropolitan areas that bracket it (Philadelphia and Harrisburg), said growth adding territory faster than population. However, agriculture is as important to the Keystone State as it is to the Golden State, so I think in the long run, it won't ultimately succumb to development in the southeast and south-central regions.

I've seen quite a few people using food stamps at the Clark Park Farmer's Market. And what about the market in the firehouse on 50th and Baltimore? Granted 34th street is a lot nicer these days than when I was living there, but neither of these neighborhoods are what I would call hotbeds of Philadelphia's affluent elites.

No, though University City proper is probably more affluent than you may remember it, thanks in no small part to the efforts of its largest employer.

However, I regret to inform you that the Firehouse Farmers' Market is no longer. Its space will house the reincarnation of the Dock Street Brewing Company within the next month or two. (Foobooz has the latest on the brewpub's progress.)

The Clark Park Farmers' Market, however, is still very much alive. And the organization that sponsors the market in Clark Park, along with 24 others throughout metropolitan Philadelphia, The Food Trust, actually does a pretty good job of getting fresh, locally produced food to low-income communities. (Take a look at the PDF listing the 25 farmers' markets. Among the places where they sponsor seasonal markets are Chester, Norristown, Phoenixville, Germantown, Haddington (West Philly) and Kensington (Palmer Park, North Philly)--all of these low- to moderate-income communities.)

We have more than a dozen markets throughout the KC area and you can see what you want to see there . . . boomers in Volvos, xers on foot, affluent, working poor, homeless . . . and I have seen the same at Ferry Plaza.  We had a thread here some time ago about markets and are the farmers gouging, etc.  All I can say is, if you think the prices at your local market are unfair, volunteer to work in their fields for one day.  That will solve the whole situation.  And that doesn't even begin to address the risk and the cumulative exhaustion that sets in throughout the growing season.  If most of us were trying to make a living on produce, you would see $5 tomatoes (or peaches, or . . .)  Those things don't grow on trees, ya know!  :wink:

My dad went to Milgram (RIP; the locally-owned grocer emphasized its hometown roots--"Hi, Neighbor!" was its ad slogan) for groceries, but his mom and dad often went down to the City Market during the growing season. Given that the City Market is nowhere near where my grandparents lived, that (and the fact that they grew onions, potatoes and apples in a garden on their property) should tell you something about their regard for fresh foods.

I'm pleased to see that the City Market is still alive and well.

I'm not so sure I agree with the notion that farmer's markets are primarily for the affluent, excepting perhaps the more relevant fact that higher levels of income seem to result in higher levels of education.

Where I am currently living, in southwest Missouri, there are many farmer's markets and roadside stands.  The land around here is rich and fertile and folks have been tilling the soil and enjoying the rewards of fresh produce for centuries.  At the main farmer's market (held in the parking lot of the local mall, and open from April through October, Tue, Thur, Sat), there are always large numbers of shoppers that certainly don't look affluent.  In addition to accepting food stamps, there is a policy of selling for very little and even giving away food that doesn't look pretty enough to sell.  Sure, you have to cut out some bad spots, but you can acquire them for pennies, and often not even that.

At the end of last summer, I got a huge box of corn for nothing.  I arrived rather late in the afternoon and was sorry to see that all the corn was sold.  "I think there's some in the giveaway box," the proprietor of that stand told me.  "We're closing up for the day, so you can take it all if you'd like it."

The corn had worms, but after I shucked it and sliced off the kernels, I had enough corn to fill a Dutch oven, and boy was it good.

The Amish maintain a very large agricultural presence around here.  They make it known that anyone that would like fresh produce and cannot afford to pay the prices (which are competitive with local supermarkets) has only to ask.

I don't get a sense, here anyway, that it's only rich folks walking around the farmer's markets loading up on tasty tomatoes, melons, onions and cukes.

:cool:

Unless you live in Springfield, you don't really live in a city if you're living in southwest Missouri. (Rolla is a large college town.) I would be surprised if there weren't plenty of options for fresh, local foods all around you. It's really we cityfolk who are deprived in this sense, and I guess that shows you my own bias in carrying on with this discussion. However, since about three-quarters of all Americans now live in urban areas, that bias may be a valid one.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...