This radical business plan is very exciting for conscientious consumers and farmers alike.
There will be no shiny pyramids of oranges and pineapples, no trendy bottles of coconut water, no salty Kalamata olives on offer at the new Boston Public Market this summer. Those exotic imports are best left to the supermarket chains, according to the market’s organizers, who have decided to take a radical and unprecedented step in designing the city’s one and only year-round central marketplace: It will feature exclusively local and seasonal produce – anything that can be grown or produced in the New England region.
Come summertime, once construction has been completed on the downtown building, there will be 40 vendors selling local items such as fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, honey, cheese, milk, ice cream, wine, smoked fish, and flowers. While supply isn’t a concern during the warm months of the year, it remains to be seen how well stocked the market will be during the winter.
Civil Eats reports that vendors have had to present detailed business plans guaranteeing their ability to provide food throughout the year. Some farms will turn their seasonal produce into longer-lasting items, such as apples into cider, or turn to cold-weather greens and greenhouse-grown flowers to meet demand.
CEO Elizabeth Morningstar admits that she doesn’t know how it’s all going to work out, but she’s certain that launching an all-local market is the right thing to do. Shoppers want local products more than anything else right now, and small-scale farmers need more support than ever before, which makes it a prime time to launch such an endeavor. Many shoppers already make multiple stops while picking up groceries, so having to go elsewhere to get imported ingredients will not require a major change in habit.
While some shoppers might find it inconvenient, there is much to be said for returning to this centuries-old way of eating that follows the seasons, rather than relying upon costly, wasteful, and environmentally damaging imports. In recent decades we have become so accustomed to having a planet’s worth of exotic ingredients constantly at our fingertips that the thought of an all-local diet is terrifying, despite the fact that most of our grandparents ate that way. Re-attuning ourselves to what’s in season (and what’s not) will be beneficial and educational for many people.
The market is bound to please many people – from Boston’s devoted locavores and foodies to local farmers wanting reasons to expand operations to underprivileged shoppers who will be able to access the market’s free and reduced-cost cooking classes.
From its website: “At the new Boston Public Market, local farmers, fishermen, and specialty food producers will come together with the residents of Boston and Massachusetts to create a new civic institution, a vibrant marketplace that will let people from all walks of life taste, buy, and understand their food, from how it is made and sourced, to its nutritional value, to its impact on our environment, and of course, how to prepare it to make delicious meals that bring their friends and families together.”