Friday, February 22, 2008

Is there really a market for this kind of thing?

In Hampton Hill – quite a nice part of south-west London, not far from Washed and Ready to Eat HQ – there’s a big shop and café that styles itself Farmers’ City Market. This isn’t your normal farmers’ market, when a few people drive in from the country to fleece unsuspecting townies for a day and then head home at sunset. It’s a permanent fixture on the high street. They claim to combine “the best of a farmers’ market with the convenience of a supermarket.”

I was flicking through a promotional leaflet and was stopped in my tracks by some of the copy.

“We only sell varietal meat from farmers we know personally and trust.”

What exactly is varietal meat? I’ve asked for pork medallions and lamb chops in a butcher’s before, but I’ve never requested anything called varietal.

“We sell a range of products for your pantry…”

I know this is a posh part of London, but I don’t know anyone with a pantry. For the information of the store owners and their copywriter, we no longer have a larder or scullery either.

“Our bread is organic and made by an artisanal baker in Twickenham.”

An artisanal baker? Much better than the ordinary kind. I just hate to encounter a baker who doesn't know his artisan from his elbow.

The message finishes with the plea that we should “buy real food grown and produced by real people.” I wholeheartedly agree. I hate the pretend food that real people sometimes try to sell me. But it can sometimes be just as galling to be sold real food by people who turn out to be pretend.

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