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Forget the supermarket - follow me to the Farmers' Market
Certain things in life just seem a bit repetitive after you’ve been doing them a while. Washing the car, cleaning the bathroom and going to the gym all now seem a little dull, but I’ve made food shopping that little bit more exciting.
I now swap supermarket brands each week, so that I only have to go back to the same shop once every three weeks. That way I don’t get bored, don’t learn exactly where everything is, and get a little adventure each week into new foods and products. I’d rather not have to use the supermarket at all, and in my pledge to use as many local suppliers and business as possible, I’m slowly getting there by buying as much food as possible at the Winchester Farmers' Market when it comes to town.
Twice a month I get up early on a Sunday and pop out to the market, which is a little hive of activity. Imagine mixing the excitement of shopping at London’s Covent Garden, with the vibe of Seattle’s Pike Place Market (minus throwing the fish in the air!) and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what it’s like. There’s a certain amount of energy flowing around, and the bustle of people hunting out the bargains and experiencing new foods is really enticing.
Although a tad squeamish at seeing exactly where some of the food comes from, people actually feel really at ease talking to the suppliers and creators who also sell the food at the markets, and it’s great to be able to ask whatever question’s you like without being thought of as ‘stupid’. They often ask me whether I’d like to try ‘something different’ or ‘stronger’ and through this I’ve experienced lots of new foods I’d never have found looking for myself.
I had the pleasure of working on the last Farmers' Market, held just before Christmas, and really enjoyed the experience. Everyone I met was so friendly, and there was a real family atmosphere between the retailers. There were lots of people milling around, browsing all the locally produced foods and it was great pretending to be a market trader for the day – I even adopted an ‘Eastenders’ accent by accident!
The market is great for the local people getting their food, but I’ve found more and more people travelling further in from places like Worthing, just because it is so unique. There’s also a very surprising mix of age groups who use the market, and I’ve seen a lot of students regularly buy their food from the stalls – it’s nice to see younger people bucking the ‘fast-food student’ stereotype and enjoying the local produce from where they have chosen to study (really getting to know your local area has got to be a part of the university experience!).
A trip to the Farmers' Market is a lot more exciting than popping in the car to the local supermarket, and indeed an 'event' in many people’s calendars, so I’ve been awaiting the end of its Christmas break with some anticipation – just one more week to go (it’s back on the 18th January). Another thing most people walk past, but a real Winchester tradition that makes this city such a special place to live in.