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Barrie Hudson column: Now here’s a little food for thought
IT’S great to hear that the town centre is to have a regular farmers’ market every Thursday from October 3.
In case you didn’t know already, Havelock Square will be the place to go for local vegetables, fruit and meat as well as organic produce.
The best way of keeping the market, obviously, is for people to buy loads of stuff, but what can be done to help those of us who are familiar only with hypermarket shopping? After all, we might be frightened by novel concepts such as tastiness, clear pricing and accurate descriptions.
It’d be a shame if some of us were put off by the shock of the new, so I reckon the farmers should each set aside a part of their stalls where the goods are presented in ways that help folk who need to acclimatise. Then we’d have all the benefits of delicious local produce but with a comforting ‘big food business’ atmosphere.
On a meat stall, for example, the special zone might have trays truthfully labelled ‘pure and succulent pork pies’, but the farmer could leave animal collar tags inscribed ‘Rover’ or ‘Mr Whiskers’ here and there. This would spare customers the shock of actually getting what they paid for. The farmer might also hire a child actor to dress in riding attire and weep plaintively near the accurately-described 100 per cent pure beef steaks.
Another idea might be to buy a stuffed armadillo or crocodile from an antique dealer, run it through a big log chipper and then chuck the odd claw, scale or glass eyeball into the bags used for the pasties, mince and lasagne.
Fruit and veg producers should remember that those of us who buy most of our grub from hypermarkets are used to items being the same size and shape. The idea that all carrots, potatoes, cabbages and such like are not identical is something we find terrifying.
Near-identical ones should therefore be sorted and set aside on a special section of the stall to attract us. We also like our fruit and veg to be of uniform colour, so farmers should remember to bring some paint – we won’t notice anything unusual about the taste.
Farmers might also want to irradiate the fruit and veg in these special sections like many of the big suppliers do, although I don’t know how they’d go about this. Perhaps they could take the door off a microwave, put it in a shed with the produce and leave it for an hour.
Food preparation is only one way in which farmers could attract hypermarket shoppers, though. They might also offer special two-for-one deals along the lines of: “One pasty for £2.50, two pasties for £7.50.” Another good idea would be for them to price, say, individual fruit pies at £100 each for five seconds at seven in the morning, change the price to a quid and then advertise a 99 per cent discount for the rest of the day.
The stallholders should also put up signs promising to undercut the next farmer along by 10 per cent, but with some small print saying: “Only on the second Sunday of Lent in leap years during a total eclipse.”
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