The hub and I recently watched The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, written, directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock, of Super Size Me fame. In it, the tongue-in-brand-name-cheek Spurlock hits up corporate sponsors to fund his movie in exchange for product prominence, a widespread Hollywood practice, if usually done more subtly. The one take-away--if you don't count the fact that, after watching the entire film, you really do want to go buy a bottle of main sponsor POM Wonderful's pomegranate juice--is that we Americans are constantly being marketed to. In our schools, in our television shows and movies, in our grocery carts, on the sides of buses. Sometimes the ads are obvious--giant billboards, or commercials to be TiVoed through, for example--but other times we are being sold to almost imperceptibly.
Consider the Fast Company article making the internet rounds. In it, writer Martin Lindstrom analyzes how Whole Foods "primes" its shoppers to...shop, with everything from a low thermostat to fresh flowers to "chalk" signs and faux crates that are actually parts of a giant cardboard box, to make you think those canteloupes were just harvested and driven in from the farm that morning. You may never click on another link in my posts, but that one's worth the two minutes. The goal of the brick-and-mortar store is to recreate the farmers market experience.
A year ago Seattle Safeways threw fuel on the fire when they took Whole Foods tomfoolery one step further, hanging banners above the produce section that trumpeted, "Farmers Market." When people noticed mangoes in the display, the closest of which are grown in Mexico, eyebrows were raised. Safeway withdrew the claim.
In a world where we are constantly being sold a bill of goods, thank heavens for the real deal. Supermarkets may emulate farmers markets, but, like artificial vanilla flavoring and margarine spread, they just don't quite measure up. Which is not to say there isn't a little priming at the Bellevue Farmers Market:
- Low Thermostat? Check. Courtesy of Mother Nature.
- Fresh flowers? Check. Straight from the growers' hands.
- Handmade signs? Check.
- Fruit in boxes and crates? Uh-huh. From the field to the truck to you.
There are two more Thursday markets, and Saturdays will continue up to Thanksgiving. Now that you're primed, come get your goodies. To paraphrase a famous ad campaign, "Enjoy your local farmers market--it's the real thing."