Lying awake in bed last night, I came up with a new backup plan in case my current attempt at making a living fails: I think I should become a greengrocer. I’d stock seasonally available locally farmed produce, with some wildcrafted foods like mushrooms and berries in season. I’d have a neat little shop with flowers in the window and little slate chalkboards with the daily offerings. In nice weather, a table out front with plump fruits to lure in customers. I’d call it something witty and wear a natty red apron.
Most people here don’t know what a greengrocer is, which is a real pity, since greengrocers are awesome, and if we had one, I would buy all my produce there. The greengrocer was one of the things I loved most about Ireland; going into the bright and clean little shop with beautiful produce laid out like a display in an art gallery, and being able to talk to the proprietor about where the food came from and how to cook mysterious items. I loved the fact that the food changed every day, that the air had a rich, earthy scent from potatoes overlaid with sweet fruity overtones. I loved going next door to the butcher, and wandering down the street to the cheese shop and the bakery.
I like greengrocers because they are so focused on produce that their produce is usually top notch. There’s none of this supplementing a market with a paltry assortment of produce; it’s all produce, all the time. Some greengrocers also go the extra mile and work with local farmers, visiting their farms and interacting with their families. This is good business, especially right now when eating locally is starting to get trendy, but it also makes sense. Local produce is more fresh, and less subject to damage from transportation. It also keeps funds in the community, and by meeting farmers and seeing their farms, you can choose produce from farms which use cultivation practices you support.
It’s such a pity that the supermarket has taken over, making greengrocers, fishmongers, butchers, and bakers a thing of the past, or a novelty. We’re really fortunate to have Roundman’s, which is a real honest to Pete butcher shop, and I know that butchers can be found in cities to cater to special customers, but most small towns don’t have the luxury of their own butcher or cheese shop. Or, if they do, it’s aimed at yuppies, and things are overpriced and gimmicky. It seems like there always has to be a gimmick these days.
I had this vision in the middle of the night of a plain, simple, straight up greengrocer. Where I could stand behind the produce I sold because I had visited the place where it was grown. Where people could wander in and pick up interesting local news and some chard. Alas, in the pastiche filled hellhole that this town is becoming, the boosters would probably love it, but I think I could rise above that, because good produce is something which transcends pastiche.
How many of my gentle readers live in a town with a greengrocer?
Local readers, do you think that this town could support a greengrocer?