These are eaten with your fingers during cocktails, but with a knife and fork when served in a salad or another course at the table. Try to select one that's small enough to put in your mouth whole, because they squirt. Close your lips tightly before chewing.
Arthur Inch & Arlene Hirst.
Dinner is Served. A Butler's Guide to The Art of The Table
There is a political debate going on at my local farmers markets. The discussion seems to revolve around which producers may come in and which of the established ones now have to leave.
It breaks my heart to say goodbye to some of my favourite farmers. I miss their banter early on a Saturday morning. I miss their produce. I feel irked that they haven't been replaced by new farmers with a similar product, but by more cheese, relish and pasta vendors that I mostly do not buy from, but serve the curious day tripper style shopper who is scared to buy much else.
I see monopolies happening and I feel sad that something as healthy and good for the community as bringing the farm gate to the city is baring petty jealousies, without considering the desires of the shoppers.
I hear of harsh treatment of vendors by the person who runs this particular group of markets. There is schoolyard bitchiness between certain vendors, the bolder and more intelligent are said to hold more sway with the organisers than others. Their supporters whisper snidely that some of the more 'salt of the earth' types have now got too cocky. I feel the gush of the tomato squirting in their diatribe.
I have closed my mouth firmly and bitten my tongue, even though I was sent an email from one farmer who was sent into liquidation from being told that his family could no longer be vendors at the markets I attend. A more boutique set up was to be pushed up in the ranks instead. I don't like the pretentious boutique vendor. I don't like their much more expensive product. Their affectations irk me.
I chew it over with my mouth firmly shut. A farmer sets up a stall at a Farmers Market. They offer samples of their produce to the city folk milling around cautiously. The shoppers like what they try. Demand grows quickly, more product lines are developed, bank loans are taken and investments are made to service the demand. Over time a loyal core of about 1000 customers develops - who order in advance and collect their supplies at the designated markets.
Then the organisers of the market decide that the vendor has grown too big for the circuit and tell them that they are not to return. What does that farmer do when removed from their customers? In one case they have gone bust, have had to liquidate their assets and lay off staff at the farm. They have no other outlet for their product.
Perhaps I'm a soft touch, but once again I find myself questioning the qualifications of the people who make the decisions pertaining to the running of the markets. I like to think of myself as a person who tends towards being an Ethical Locavore - and perhaps that makes me a sap - but I personally renounce the supermarkets for the rough grist that they lay upon our farmers. Now, I see a similar ruthlessness emerging at my principal source of fresh produce and it breaks my heart. Truly.
If a Farmer provides good produce and builds a large following, does that substantiate removal from a market, or does it in fact bring more people in, to the benefit of all the other stall holders?
What quantifies 'too big', if the local demand for farmer direct produce is growing at a rapid pace? Why is a Farmer with solely a big following at the farmers markets considered bigger than another producer at the markets who also sells their product to shops and can be found in IGA supermarkets?
Are organisers and vendors aware of the long term trends? Or are they perhaps inflexibly focussed on their original smaller aims?
Pictured above: Purchased direct from local producers.
Mt Belleview Jack Horner Sausage, King Valley.
Murchison capsicum and tomatoes.
Sorrel, Basil, beetroot leaves and Dill from Glenloth
Bocconcini from Riverina Cheese, Albury.
Local doesn't mean boring.
Local means uncomplicated dishes that enhance the robust flavours of the produce:
1. North East Venison Girello, mango salsa (not local), local asparagus, Nicola potatoes, brassicas
2. Garfield Barramundi wings in 5 spice crust, Chinese Broccoli, Tofu with Szechuan sauce
3. Gipsy Pig Mandarin pork fillets, Wat Daan Chinese cabbage, rice cakes (not local)
4. Mt Bellevue Scotch fillet, chargrilled heirloom vegetables, Bison potato salad with homemade Mayonnaise & Bearnaise made with local eggs, homegrown herbs