Thursday, 7 January 2010
Virtual Farmers Market: A Nail In The Coffin
About once or twice a week I walk down the road to my local grocers. I roam his shop fondling and smelling the fruit and veg I am about to buy for the week. I can spend ages in there chatting to the owner about where the veg has come from and sometimes bend his ear on ways to prepare them. I am particularly fond of the Romsey plum tomatoes when available along with his large selection of squashes. I then wander a little further into a local deli where I pick up some cheeses, perhaps some Snowdonia Black Thunder and usually a hunk of Chevre Log. They also sell the most amazing Somerset butter which almost always finds it's way into my fridge. For meat I go a little further out the way, up to a butchers where the banter always flows and the old boys are happy to talk to me about the different grades of beef they have in the store room, I've often been in there to be shown the sides of cows hanging and learnt exactly where the each cut comes from. After a little bit of schooling and some generous portions I carry my shopping home. Fresh air, exercise and helping keep local business' alive.
Now let me turn your attention to a new website. This week saw the launch of the worlds first virtual farmers market. Essentially an online, mail order deli with a 3D interactive market simulator. Why does everything have to go online. I'm sure most food lovers relish the occasion of going to a farmers market once in a while or taking a trip to their local deli. This website has saddened me greatly. What's next? will we even go to restaurants or just plug in a taste adaptor via USB whilst twittering our opinions? How long before we don't leave the house, are we destined for a virtual life similar to the Matrix, plugged into our computers, working from home and online mail order. It's scary to think of how quickly social networking has pushed us into a new era where no matter how idyllic a lifestyle these back to basics TV shows may portray, the chances are, your watching it online whilst you have another tab open shopping for those cute wellies the presenter is wearing or googling where to buy a bundt tin similar to that one Nigella has in her staged kitchen.
Websites like this are contributing to the death of the grocer, the deli shop and one day the butchers. No more cheeky banter by the till or a little discount for being a regular. Those days could be on the way out. So if you don't already, find a good grocers, butchers and deli. If they don't stock something you want, ask them to get it in. You should find little if any difference in your shopping budget by frequenting independent shops such as these. In fact my meat is almost always cheaper than supermarkets and not only local and free-range but tastier. Don't fall into the trap of gnawing on the edge of your keyboard. You're supposed to love food, so be more hands on about it, and I don't mean the keyboard and mouse. Get outside and buy something the old fashioned way. Virtual Farmers Market has a £35 minimum order, I know the deli doesn't...