[Market-farming] Vineland, NJ

Bill Shoemaker wshoemak at inil.com
Wed Nov 5 11:31:57 EST 2003


    I don't think that you can completely get away from the fact that life
is intense in our culture. People will look for convenience as a means for
making life more efficient. If a local grower can find ways to accomodate
that, go for it. But there is a reason why supermarkets became popular in
the 50's and 60's, and that mass-market chains are succeeding today. People
respond to convenience.

    But I think people will also respond to quality. If they try local
product, they will enjoy it and want more. You're right, people are eating
less and less produce because they don't have access to produce they like. I
especially am concerned about our young people, who are learning to NOT like
produce. All they ever get to try is worn out by the time they get it. Our
mass merchandising industry has ruined the produce market.

    When I get the opportunity to initiate local folks into the quality of
really fresh produce, their eye's light up like it's an epiphany. They had
no idea! THAT is the problem. Once they have the idea, they seek it out. We
need to find ways to shorten the gap between the average consumer and the
local producer. As much as growing is the challenge most market gardeners
enjoy, marketing is what determines their success.

Bill Shoemaker
Sr Research Specialist, Food Crops
Univ of Illinois - St Charles Hort Research Center

-----Original Message-----
From: Pat Meadows <pat at meadows.pair.com>
To: Market Farming <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date: Wednesday, November 05, 2003 9:38 AM
Subject: Re: [Market-farming] Vineland, NJ

>On Wed, 5 Nov 2003 09:13:59 -0600, you wrote:
>>    Your comment is interesting to me. I wonder if you think that will
>>to change. In the Chicago area, I don't think produce in mainline stores
>>ever been worse. They even bother to make sure it looks good anymore.
>>produce is so superior, I can't imagine consumers not prefering it. And
>>they understand how much more nutrition is in it when it's purchased the
>>same day it's picked, I think they'll become serious about sourcing local
>>produce. Local independent stores will follow the customers. Once they
>>undercutting the megachains produce departments, the megas will have to
>>start changing their ways. It's currently an outragious tragedy. It will
>>have to change.
>Here's the problem, though, as I see it.
>1.  The produce in the supermarkets is pretty bad (at least
>here, in rural northern PA, it is).
>2.  So people largely stop buying fresh produce - who can
>blame them?  It's both high-priced and poor quality.
>3.  Then when a farmers' market or the like opens, people
>don't patronize it because they are no longer used to eating
>fresh veggies.  Especially younger people.  They don't
>*look* for them.
>Heck, even the grocery store clerks don't know what many of
>the vegetables are, they don't even know their *names*, much
>less how to cook them, what to use them for, etc.
>It's a circular process, and feeds on itself.  How do you
>break the circle?
>Or am I all wrong about this?
>I might be getting a distorted view because our local
>farmers market is only open Friday mornings in summer.
>Well, of course people don't patronize it:  they're *at
>work*, they can't just take an hour's break to shop at a
>farmers market.  I've no idea *why* that appalling choice of
>day/time was made.
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