Mid-May means we are now officially in farmers market season. It's now time to spend Saturday mornings in those bustling parking lots and open fields surrounded by people wheeling their burlap bags overflowing with local produce and prepared foods, along with that little spring in their step that could only come from the rhythms of lively local musicians. (There's a lot more to local than food.) The old-fashioned way to shop is back in a big way in the 21st century. It's about the food, but it's food mixed in with tasty samplings, mingling with neighbors, and generally relaxing at this new ritual weekend destination.
With the inevitable back and forth between customer and small business owner, it all takes a bit longer, but nobody seems to mind. No one is in a hurry because this is the antithesis of one-stop shopping. It's nice getting to know the people who feed your family. That's how Manhattan chef and restaurateur Robert Arbor described the marché ritual in his native France. When you think of it that way, a farmers market is a very personal experience, fueled by invisible ingredients like goodwill, trust, and a healthy dose of culinary curiosity. People want to feel good about what they're eating and where they're shopping.
Why do we, as a micro-confectioner, participate in farmers markets? First and foremost, La Petite Occasion is a farmers market product. The ingredients that go into our caramels and toffees are found in farmers markets in the Hudson Valley. Our butter comes from Kriemhild Dairy. Our heavy cream is from Hudson Valley Fresh. The whey we use as a stabilizer comes from Sohha Yogurt. Farmers markets are a natural fit for us, but they are rewarding to small businesses like ours for many reasons: