Eating is often referred to as ‘a celebration of life’, so we can conclude that food shopping is one of life’s more pleasurable events. Yet with our over-busy lifestyles, it isn’t.
Think about it. Most of us drive to a supermarket to search for both a carpark, and a trolley with good wheels; and, in an over-noisy, crowded environment, we navigate endless rows of aisles to fill the trolley with convenience foods, which we unpack at a checkout, which are re-packed into the trolley, and then packed again into the car. We drive home, carry it all inside, unpack again, so we can put it all away. We carry out this ritual on a regular basis — and pay for the privilege! It's enough to make a person's head spin. Is it really any wonder that it makes us frown?
Perhaps it’s time to sit back and think a while, as we develop new attitudes toward our food. We could learn much from the peasant farmers and market gardeners, who are close to the food they eat — preparing it with respect and making every meal a real celebration. Perhaps we should all re-consider our shopping methods — reserving short trips to the supermarket for the purpose of stocking non-food essentials, like bathroom supplies — opting instead to regularly explore produce markets shopping for fresh meat, poultry and fish; and seasonal fruits, vegetables, breads, cereals and grains.
Visit your local farmer's or produce markets. Take a wicker basket or granny trolley and allow yourself to be stimulated by the fresh air and lively atmosphere — the array of wonderful stalls piled with all manner of succulent fruits and vegetables, the scent of newly baked bread; and the tantalising delicatessen aroma of cheeses, exotic spices and specialty smoked meats.
Food for thought. Michael Symons wrote in closing his comprehensive history of food and eating in Australia, One Continuous Picnic (Penguin) — “Good food has never come from factory farms, process lines, canteens, supermarkets and fastfood chains. It still belongs to careful vegetable gardeners, painstaking cheesemakers and dedicated chef-patrons, meeting in the bustling market-place”. Happy shopping!
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.