With some notable exceptions, U.S. farmers’ markets aren’t usually perceived as elitist: They’re everywhere these days; many people are aware that they take food stamps; and their prices are often lower than those of supermarkets. But apparently things aren’t the same across the pond, even in a society that seems just as chow-conscious as ours. In the UK Guardian’s new food blog, writer Rachel Dixon explains that the British farmers’ market system is much less established than the U.S. one, and while prices are still significantly lower than they are at supermarkets, 75 percent of FM shoppers “are female and from socio-economic groups A, B or C1, while nearly half are over 55.” Translation: They’s got money.
And even those well-to-do types aren’t always into the FM ideals. As one commenter even points out, there have been protests against new markets in his area:
I live between Hampstead and Highgate, and in both places local residents have campaigned successfully against proposed farmers markets. There may be something odd about the local demographic: it appears to match the profile in the article, but maybe they have special dietary requirements.
In related news, the UK-based Economist magazine is apparently the only major publication to question the ethical-eating movement anymore, the Columbia Journalism Review reports (also via The Food Section). In a must-read piece for any food-writing geek, CJR explains that in December, The Economist:
lobbed a rotten tomato at the very idea that you can effect change by the foods you buy and eat. Far from saving the world, the venerable weekly argued, the pro-organic and pro-local-foods movement just ‘might make it worse.’ One reason, it says, is that organic farming is less efficient than the intensive modern sort, so a wholesale switch to organic ‘would require several times as much land as is currently cultivated. There wouldn’t be much room left for the rain forest.’
Meanwhile, even conservative U.S. papers like the Wall Street Journal have caught the eat-to-change-the-world wave. Are antiethicurean Brits just tougher nuts to crack, or do they have a point?