21 June 2011

french markets

Such gorgeous garlic -- 66 centimes a head.

I've noticed that there is a bit of misconception outside of France that marchés in France are farmers' markets. They aren't.

Many of the vendors at the market -- a majority of them, I would say -- are distributers, not farmers. They get their fruits and vegetables at the wholesale warehouses, and bring them to the consumers at the local market.

This is not to say that that's bad, no, not at all. But if buying directly from the growers is important to you, then you have to look for the word producteur.

See the word producteur at the bottom of the receipt? FYI: Thurins is a commune that's 25km southwest of Lyon.

Producteurs sometimes (but not always) have signs in their booths somewhere, perhaps hanging from the awning or even printed directly on their awning, marking them as such. They tend to have longer lines of customers than distributers.

Producteurs are also quiter. Distributers might call out to shoppers, yelling out that the strawberries are extra fresh this morning or the peppers are a great deal today. Producteurs don't do that.

Oh, and the ones who have their produce all weighed and piled up on plates, ready to bag ("3€ a plate!")? Those are also distributers. Producteurs leave their stuff in the wooden crates, and will let you buy as little, or as much, as you want.

I love these crooked cucumbers. They remind me of my childhood when cucumbers were all crooked.

My favorite prooducteur comes to the market near my son's school twice a week. The truck brings loads of fresh produce, along with six or seven people to work in the booth. I give them my basket, and they put my purchase directly in it, skipping the plastic bags. Things like green beans and peas are wrapped in brown paper before going in the basket. I also get my eggs from these people. BYOEC -- Bring Your Own Egg Carton. Today I spent 15€ here and they gave me a bunch of parsely.

Fresh fruits and vegetables, cheerful bonjour, human contact, merci with a smile and a bonne journée.  There's little wonder why I feel happier and more uplifted on market days.


Smell the basil!

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