How To Behave At A Farmer's Market (Or Food Festival)

05/10/2016 10:50


Farmer's Markets are a unique shopping experience requiring different shopping etiquette from your normal supermarket or internet shop. They are about as far from the sanitised, labelled, controlled, loyalty carded supermarkets as you can get. It's a fantastic chance to meet the makers and producers, ask questions and learn about the products that you're buying. Here are some insights from both sides of the stall. I started out with a fantastic local market It gives you a great opportunity to try out new products and receive speedy feedback.

Queuing: We're British so we're great at queuing. We could teach other nations international best practice (I'm looking at you, Frenchies...) If you don't have the time to form a queue, it's probably best to stick with online ordering.

Seasonality: You can eat what's in season for a bargain price and your veg won't have registered any air-miles. Last Saturday I bought organic baby cauliflower that had been harvested that morning! Supermarkets can't even begin to compete with that. Plus the price was comparable to Aldi.

Flexibility: I love it when my customers like a particular product enough to say, "I really like the empanadas, but could you make them without onion and garlic?" The answer is pretty much going to be "Yes, of course, how many would you like?" Good Luck with trying that in your supermarket.


Samples: Just to clarify... samples are not a buffet. It's not a meal replacement. I give out samples to hear what you think, particularly because my gluten free and vegan bakes challenge your preconceptions. I love it when someone who doesn't need to be either free from gluten or dairy tries some lemon-curd slice. Makes a (vaguely) positive comment, wanders off, and returns to buy a slice after they've checked out what's on offer at the rest of the market. However, there's another type of 'customer' who sidles up to the stall, doesn't make eye contact (is actually looking in a completely different direction), shoots out their hand, grabs a piece of whatever, scoops it up like a pelican flying over water snaring herring into its bill, and disappears at the kind of speed that Usain Bolt would be proud of. I have news Mr or Ms Sampler, I'm less than a metre away and I can see you. Other stallholders can see you too, it's like we have special stallholder super-hero vision. Supermarkets don't really do samples because it has an impact on something called Gross Margin.

Information: At the weekend after sampling a couple of different types I found out that the cheese that I preferred was made last year using unpasteurised milk produced by grass-fed cows in Cheshire. The person who had made it was understandably proud of their product and took the time to tell me about it. Mr Bourne and his Cheshire cheese was a finalist in the 2016 BBC Food and Farming Awards. Similarly, I'm always happy to give information about my products especially if you're trying something new. My raw chocolate 'Bounty' slice is nothing like an actual Bounty. It doesn't contain refined sugar, it's dairy free, high in antioxidants, rich in beneficial fats from coconut and cashews, and you only need a small slice to achieve that chocolatey buzzy treat feeling . This is not the kind of info that you're ever going to find out from a label in your local supermarket.

Children and Dogs: Farmer's markets welcome both when well-behaved.