News Flash: Until fruits and vegetables taste good, and are affordable people won’t eat them.
As soon as we land in Italy, we start eating more vegetables.
The spring vegetables are in: tender purple artichokes, crisp peas, snappy fave beans, are mounded high in the market. A shopping bag full of freshly foraged greens is 3 euro.
We sat with some American friends the other night and wondered why shopping at a NYC or Portland green market was so expensive. Why shopping at the green market was something you saved for special dinners.
Italian markets are reasonably priced. How come? I’ve asked this question many times, in different places, and never gotten an answer that solved the riddle.
We went to a Food Policy talk in New York, and were told that the Greenmarket was no more expensive than any grocery store. In my experience, that’s simply not true.
Granted, the Union Sq Market in NYC, sells precious micro greens by the ounce, and I’m buying foraged greens by the bagful. Then again, the Italian produce sellers are notorious for having a heavy thumb on the scale, so maybe that’s how they make up the difference.
Have you noticed? Food deserts have been in the news. Food deserts are neighborhoods where you don’t have decent grocery stores. Then the news comes out that food deserts aren’t the problem. Even when there are vegetables for sale, people aren’t buying them.
Preaching about the health benefits of fruits and vegetables works for some people, but desire is a far more powerful motivator.
How do we create the desire in people to eat more vegetables? How do we make vegetables sexy and in demand? Who does PR for the artichoke? Who speaks for the carrot? And silly, childish, cartoon vegetables are not the answer. And neither are shrill spokespeople who intone the wisdom of plant eating from a pillar of self-congratulation.
Do you think if seasonality was reintroduced to our lifestyle, and we learned to long for the first peas of the season, that it would make a difference? If peas (and men) were bred for sweetness and tenderness, would they create a yearning; instead of peas that were bred for longevity and shipping, and who are more like a dependable but unexciting husband?
I think the moral of the story is: if the asparagus tastes good, we will eat it. I’m not sure what the moral of the story is regarding tender v. dependable husbands, I’ll let you work that out for yourself.