A huge thanks to Nicola Young for putting us onto The Katering Show in her last column. The episode titled “Ethical Eating” is great on many levels. The commentary on pretentious shoppers at a Farmers Market is priceless. For anyone who thinks about the social and environmental impacts of the food they eat, “The Kates” offer a warning not to take ourselves too seriously.
Along the same lines, the phrase “ethical eating” is pretty loaded. I would never use the term as it appears to imply that all other eating is unethical. Yow! Does that include the ‘Reduced for Quick Sale’ apple crumb cakes I buy en masse from Countdown?
In my experience with Farmers Markets and pretentious shoppers, I have always taken a proactive approach but admittedly with mixed results. About ten years ago I brought my produce to a brand new market in a wealthy village a few miles from the not-so-wealthy hamlet where I had my farm. This was during the era when “Artisinal Bread” was coming on the market and gaining a 30% mark-up because of the use of the word artisinal. I was like, “Yo! Sign me up.”
Turns out the extraordinarily pretentious lady who organised the market did not appreciate my “Artisinal Salad Greens” or my “Zesty Zero-Emissions Mesclun Mix.” Rather unceremoniously my stall space was given to a lady who knitted tea cozies, and the so-called “Farmers Market” lost one of its two actual farmers. (Everyone else was a “crafter.”)
Fortunately I have encountered no such snobbery at our own River Traders Market…well not much anyway. In all good humour, we market our World’s Best Garlic as, “local, carbon-neutral, spray-free, compost grown, small batch, and artisinal.” It is available with or without the use of Whanganui’s local currency, “REBS.” We were warned not to label it “organic” because we have not paid to join that club, and the labeling Nazis may persecute us.
When it comes to unpretentious shopping for local and/or organically-grown fruit, vege and eggs there is no better place than the REBS stall on Saturday morning. My colleagues do an amazing job of keeping this community-based, cooperative stall stocked with fresh, in-season produce every weekend of the year. From my understanding, the REBS stall is one of maybe only two that have never missed a market day in over six years.
It seems every discussion of local, organically-grow food always comes around to price. Here I would like to steer the discussion away from clever marketing and affordability to quality. There is no better tasting garlic available than that which I grow. I will admit to first equal – that’s awesome, mate – but none greater.
In olive oil there is extra virgin first cold press. In coffee there is 100% Arabica beans. In garlic there is fresh, local and grown using exceptionally high quality compost. (I’m not a wine snob so I wouldn’t know the next permeatation.) High quality food costs more than low quality food. Same with cars, houses, mobile phones, computers, beer and “escort services.” You get wacha pay for.
It seems every discussion of ‘ethical eating’ also comes around to meat. There is no debate that the vast majority of methods for raising meat animals have large environmental impacts. It is also no secret that cutting back on one’s carnivourous behaiviour or choosing to be vegetarian tick the most ‘ethical’ boxes on the list.
However, in New Zealand we have the unique opportunity where eating more meat is best for the environment! Too good to be true? Not at all. Step right up for a generous helping of local, organic, free-range, natural, small batch, goat humanely “demised” and lovingly processed by a skilled craftsman-of-a-Kiwi-bloke and slow-cooked to perfection over an entire day by the gentle caressing rays of the Earth’s local star.
But how am I going to fit that on a sign?