Farmers’ markets have been a mainstay of villages and towns ince before cities were even a thing, but we can just about certainly credit the ‘food-obsessed’ Millennial generation with the recent surge in popularity of food markets. Which is not just ye olde faithful farmer’s market. Event calendars across the globe are now replete with variously-themed food markets where small-scale vendors gather to sell their produce and their wares to growing numbers of attendant foodies. All in a decidedly Instagrammable manner, obviously!
As it turns out, they are more than just gathering places for the most hipster elements amongst us - food market culture is pretty good for us all. It’s a harbinger of good things to come. “Why”, you ask?
Food markets are a feast for the senses.
Much more so than the sensorially-dulled traditional grocery shopping experience, where we rely almost entirely on sight to determine which food-like products to load onto our trolleys. The food market offers a Pinterest-worthy array of colours and displays to delight the eye, along with the smells of all manner of traditional and exotic dishes being cooked up often before our very eyes. Instead of generic background music peppered with announcements, the typical food market sounds like the happy bustle of a gathering - the chatter, the sizzle and hiss of food cooking, and quite likely the melodic strains of live music. It’s more than a shopping experience, it’s a sensory adventure and a social occasion all rolled into one!
We’re able to connect with the people behind the product.
The vendor of a market stall is going to know what it is they’re selling, and likely be more than happy to tell you all about it. Chances are, they’ve grown the produce themselves, or sourced it from local farms. This is the person who can give you tips on cooking or storing an item, who conceptualised the delectable dish right in front of you, or who put hard work into making those preserves or unusual delicacies. The experience of interacting with someone involved and invested in the produce is worlds away from selecting something sourced from who-knows-where, sitting on a shelf, unattached to any human component.
We actually know what it is we’re purchasing.
More importantly, what it is we’re putting into our bodies? This is key for Millennials, who take the time to educate themselves on the hidden dangers within the food we eat. Seemingly immune to traditional forms of advertising, this generation expects the food industry to clean up its act: organic tops the list of demands, along with GMO-free produce, gluten-free, vegan and banting options. Small-scale vendors like those at a food market can quickly respond to such demands. A farmer’s produce stall can provide immediate feedback on where and how the food was grown, and use customer preferences to adjust farming methods. Food vendors are similarly able to answer questions about ingredients and can swiftly alter their offerings based on the latest study findings and emergent food trends.
Food markets promote a sense of community, bringing us together in physical space with like-minded folk drawn to the market for reasons similar to our own. It’s a bit of an antidote to the isolation of modern life, where we spend most of our time interacting with the world via screens. Markets encourage us to connect over an ancient and basic everyday human activity - feeding ourselves - while celebrating the various ways we do that and the variety of food options we have available in our locality.
For all the negative press Millennials face, this is one trend that we can all get behind. It is undoubtedly a driver of change - pushing the establishment to find ways of connecting authentically with a new generation of consumers, with their demands for more wholesome food options with zero questionable ingredients, and naturally nutritious fresh produce, we all reap the benefits.
Date Published: 05 April 2018