Market Magic

John Whaite puts his finger on the appeal of food markets:

“[It] isn’t just ingredients that make markets special. In this plastic-wrap age, when almost everything we consume comes with a use-by date, it’s as though we’ve lost our senses.

“At a market, you select a bunch of tomatoes, bring it to your face and inhale, seeking a sweet, peppery vine smell. If it isn’t there, you find another. You ask the fishmonger to teach you how to pick out the freshest catch. The butcher will give you ideas for what to do with that piece of brisket. And those cheeses, those mountainous tractor-wheels of cheese, tower above you and inspire daydreams of Welsh rarebit or cauliflower cheese.”

The Future of Food

Josh Scherer looks at tech innovator Mike Lee’s futuristic grocery store:

“The hypermodern food hub, whose online store will open in the spring, won’t be offering up any Jetsonian food robots or particle rearrangers. Instead, Lee wants the store to focus on real, long-term solutions to the problems that are likely to affect how we grow, cook, and eat food in the coming decades.

“‘Our point is to say, ‘What are the things that could change the world in 50 years?’ and then think about what it means for the things you’re eating from the supermarket.'”

Selling Ugly Fruits and Vegetables

Asda, Britain’s second-largest supermarket, has jumped on the bandwagon:

“The retailer … said long-standing consumer resistance was about price and quality, but its research showed that 65% of its customers were now open to the idea of buying oddly shaped fresh produce, while 75% would definitely buy ‘wonky’ if it was cheaper.”

Jamie Oliver says it’s about reducing food waste:

“‘If most Brits had half an idea of the amount going to waste, they’d be snapping up ugly veg by the trolley load,’ Oliver said. ‘There’s no difference whatsoever in taste or nutritional value. This is perfectly good food that could and should be eaten by humans.'”

Going Nuts

A Korean Air Lines executive threw a tantrum recently on a flight when served macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on a plate. Since then, macadamia sales in South Korea have soared:

“Auction, a South Korean unit of eBay and South Korea’s second-largest e-commerce website, said Monday that sales of macadamias surged nearly 12-fold during the previous five days without any promotions. It said macadamias previously made up 5 percent of its nut sales but were now accounting for almost half.”

“Maille Is About Mustard. That’s Who We Are.”

New York magazine profiles Pierette Huttner, “New York’s first, and only, mustard sommelier,” who runs a Maille showroom in Manhattan:

“This is a permanent affair, not a pop-up, and it’s stocked accordingly. Other than classic cornichons, the Maille shop carries a wide-range of flavors in jars and pours mustard on tap, ‘filled by hand’ in stoneware jars, up to 18.6 ounces. There are more than twenty varieties — morel, Cognac, and black truffle among them.”

Not a Beauty Contest

As Maria Godoy reports, ugly produce is selling like gangbusters in Europe. It began with a campaign by Intermarche, France’s third-largest supermarket:

“That initial campaign, launched in March, was quite successful: Marcel, the creative agency behind Intermarche’s campaign, says overall store traffic rose 24 percent. It was so successful, in fact, that Intermarche brought the idea back for a week in October in all of its 1,800 stores, and its competitors in France, Auchan and Monoprix, have launched similar initiatives.”

“A Produce Bonanza”

Vered Guttman explains why she shops at ethnic food markets:

“It didn’t take long for me to realize that produce in the quantities I was used to buying was just too expensive. It took a few more years to discover the low prices for produce (not to mention the more unusual veggies and fruit) that the many ethnic supermarkets, and especially the Asian ones, around Washington were offering. Once again I could fill my bags.

“The shopping experience at one of the Korean or Chinese owned supermarkets might be what the USDA wants to see in every grocery store in America. There, the produce aisles are the most crowded, with shoppers perusing stacks of colorful fruits, vegetables and herbs at reasonable prices.”