Saturday, June 4, 2011

Leslieville Farmers' Market

The Leslieville Farmers' Market starts tomorrow, June 5th.  It will be open from 9 am to 2 pm at Johnathon Ashbridge Park. I normally stop at the East Lynn Park Farmers' Market or at Withrow Park.   This one is close and convenient enough that the whole family will be going.  I am looking forward with a little bit of trepidation.

I am concerned at the balance between `Farmers`and producers.  The mix is 50/50.  While I have no problem with producers of fine foods or musicians or other stuff, I don't typically think of that as a farmer's market.  It was the slight off mixture that eventually put me off the evergreen brickworks.  They were upfront with their goal to make livable cities.  Food is only one aspect.  I love the evergreen site and recommend it to destination eaters but not so much for weekly shoppers. 

This phenomenon of destination farmers' markets feels more like a new way for producers to connect with the consumers.  It is a cheaper delivery mechanism with built-in immediate feedback.  I think that it is always admirable to get to know your food and those who make it.  It makes it harder to poison the eater.  I always wonder if the Maple Leaf executives feed their family the same food as they produce.  I wonder if their food production methods would change, and quickly if their family became sick with listeriosis.  But then again, I know people who have poisoned their families with homemade potato salad.

The quibble is the naming of this market as a farmers' market when it is really more of local market where people go to the park rather than the local mall.  The difference is that the goods are local, and it introduces more people to the park in a congenial atmosphere with revelry.  More people will get a sense of their food and how it gets there from attending the market.  But is this really just the beginning of a new type of corporatization of food; replacing malls with stalls?

This market is invitation only, meaning that the Market manager will be the one that ends up shaping the market, its purpose and the rules.  It is not run by farmers but by residents.  They are asking for local and thoughtful food and products.  This is a step to fixing the food system as it works now but care has to be taken that it is not creating a system that will undermine the more permanent and nascent changes that seek to transform the larger food networks. (CSAs, businesses selling local food, etc)  We need for consumers to break down the wall, as we all eat from the same trough.  However, it is easy for a densely populated and affluent area to demand and receive but I am not sure what effect this will have in the long term.

In the mean time, I am going to enjoy this market for what it serves and report back as always.

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