Food for thought

Gourmet Traveller|July 2020

Food for thought
In times of uncertainty people seek transparency, which is driving a business boom for local producers, writes GEORGIE MEREDITH.
GEORGIE MEREDITH

As we emerge from a period of total uncertainty, one thing is becoming clear: a shift is taking place as consumers rethink their approach to fresh food, questioning where it comes from, how it’s grown and even how it tastes.

While big-name supermarkets remain essential for basic necessities, the real-world effects of climate change, drought, and yearly bushfires, have galvanised consumers into thinking more carefully about their weekly shop.

The result? Small-scale farmers are experiencing a boom of interest, with local markets and delivery services thriving. More recently, the health, social and economic ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic have driven customers to shop in new ways, propelling producers into their busiest period ever.

Talia Smith is the founder of The Locals Market – a sustainably-operated weekly food market run out of Paramount House Hotel in Sydney’s Surry Hills. Smith sources all her fruit and vegetables from small-scale producers close to Sydney.

The chef-turned-wholefoods-dealer started the venture nearly seven years ago in the hopes of bringing quality local produce to her community in a social and sustainable way. “I wanted to make it simple for households to access local produce and reduce mindless shopping at supermarkets,” explains Smith.

Since then, the project’s customer base has grown from a few regulars to a coterie of nearly 200 people. And this year, she says, she’s never been busier. Smith, like many others, believes there has been a major change in the way people are thinking about their food.

“People are far more passionate about fresh, locally grown food and what that tastes like. They know it’s better for them and better for our local industry,” says Smith.

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July 2020