SUPPLY VS. DEMAND:
Supply and demand is an economical model based on price, utility, and quantity (available) in the market. In a competitive market, the model predicts that price equalizes demanded quantities and quantities supplied by producers, resulting in an economic equilibrium between price and quantity. Clearly this is in a perfect world…
In today’s world, far more stark and critical predictions are being made about supply and demand that are unsettling and great cause for attention and action. Remember the phrase “Think Global, Act Local”? Most of us may assume it is a relatively new term. It was actually first used in the book “Cities in Evolution” in 1915 by social activist Patrick Geddes. For nearly a century this phrase has been utilized to promote local consciousness in multiple contexts (environmental, business, agriculture) for the betterment of the world’s supply and demand. The argument for establishing local roots and supporting local roots has been active and yet, in our vastly expanding populated world, the argument has fallen short of being heard by the masses and today we are on the brink of a global food crisis that is not a short-term crisis nor one that can be solved by simply planting more. China, the world’s second largest corn-growing nation on the planet cannot even grow enough feed to sustain its pigs. As more grain is being diverted to livestock and the production of biofuels, demand has tripled since 2005. Supply and demand? The cost of corn has tripled since 2005 and it only continues to skyrocket.
Moreover, we have forgotten the source of the food that sustains us. Like breathing, walking and talking, we eat, often oblivious to the heaping global ramifications on our plate. Our beef comes from Oregon, fed by Iowan corn. Our blueberries come from Chile and our apple juice, not from Washington State, rather China. Modern society has not heeded the centuries’ old warnings, as modernity as we know it, has relieved us of the need to grow, harvest and even prepare our daily bread. We just pay for it. And the consequences are profound.
We are consuming food faster than it CAN be produced. At this rate, we need a green revolution or we will run out of food.
Buzz kill? What is a chef to do? Why are we responsible? As chefs, we are a vital and active participant in the food supply. There is no denying it. Every day, we walk into our kitchens and make decisions that have direct effects on the food chain. We can easily place orders for all of our commodities by the click of a button. We can smile at the Sysco trucks delivering goods to us from thousands of miles across the globe and sign the invoice and wave goodbye. The money saved is genius! The bottom line just got lower. Or did it bottom out? We are responsible because we hold the responsibility to our profession, to our craft, to our better judgement. We are chefs because we love food. We love that it inspires us to be better than our better selves. We love that food, at the end of the day makes us rise to the occasion. We love food because it is a natural wonder that feeds plenty. We love food because it is a gift that has been given to us and in our profession, if we allow it to shine, it allows us to shine.
We have access to over 3000 micro farms in Southern California alone. These farms are family institutions imbedded in our communities, generations of farmers working the soil, working with nature to produce the same gifts that feed the plenty. Thousands of miles away in China, a similar community relies on generations of family farms that also feed the plenty. We have a choice to choose. In an imperfect world, today, we too, can think global and act local.
To each and every chef that participates actively in the Farmers Market, I thank you. And I know the farmers thank you too. Every visit I pay to the farmers, they thank me for the support and the business that we give. That thank you is extended to each chef that makes the choice to buy a freshly picked vine-ripened tomato that screams, “Delicious….and local!”
There was a lot of action on the farms this week! Some for the better, some proving even more that Summer is here. Summer proves unpredictable patterns in harvesting and it also puts to rest some of our favorite produce. Heirloom tomatoes are looming. Spinach varieties are wilting. Lettuces are bolting, only to be seen again in October and in the lettuce-friendly months of winter. Tangerines – we may just be tasting the last of them. Cherries are everywhere! And Fitzgerald Farms’ summer stone fruits are falling gracefully from the branches and into our hands. Pay attention because this week, produce is shifting and moving at the speed of light!
Entering: Pluots from Scott Farms, Summer Baby Squash Mix from Coastal Organics (awesome!!!), Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Shunkyo Radishes and Black Plum Tomatoes from Jaime Farms, Tiny Tiny Apricots, Yellow Nectarines and Debutant Peaches from Fitzgerald Farms, Cherries from Simms Cherry Farm, Baby Green Artichokes from Life’s a Choke, Green Onion Chives and Miners Lettuce from Yasutomi Farm, Pink Variegated Lemons, Meyer Lemons and Murcott Tangerines from Garcia Organics, Russian Red Kale and Spicy Mix (Arugula, Mizuna and Chard) from Windrose Farm, and All Blues Potatoes from Weiser Famly Farms.
Back on track: Fiesole Artichokes from Life’s A Choke, Stinging Nettles and Dandelion Greens from Coleman Family Farms
Gapping: Bloomsdale Spinach from Weiser Family Farms, Savoy Spinach from Rutiz Farms, All Radishes from Jaime Farms
Exiting: Apriums, French Leeks, Green Garlic, Meiwa Kumquats, Paige Tangerines, Tom’s Terrific Tangerines and Gold Nuggets from Garcia Organics, Black Kale, Baby Turnips (Coastal Organics) and Watermelon Radishes from Mcgrath Farms
Next week: A video tour of a local heirloom tomato farm!!
Baby Green Artichokes – round, meaty and mild, more heart than other varieties, as it is simply a tinier version of its larger counterparts that get more sun. 100% edible!
Baby Green Zucchini with Flower – Life’s A Choke Farms inject water into each squash blossom’s stem to ensure their freshness and livelihood. A wonderful and glamorous spring and summer menu accoutrement!!
Tulare Cherries – from Simms Cherry Farms – much like a bing and perfectly sweet!
Debutant Peaches – from Fitzgerald Farms. Sugar and acid strike the perfect balance making this the perfect peach!
Shunkyo Radishes – Shaped like a baby pink carrot: one moment it’s hot, the next it is sweet! My personal favorite!
Baby Summer Squash Mix– from Coastal Organics: a variety of Ronde Nice, 8-Ball, Green & Gold Zucchini, Sunburst (a.k.a gold patty pan) and Middle Eastern.
Persian Watercress – Rutiz Farms, a hot peppery leaf that has been an equally hot seller at the market. Very unique shape and taste!
Japanese Tomatoes – I just love these meaty tomatoes! They are the most beautiful tomatoes at the market right now. Great pre-heirloom season variety nicknamed the “Tough Boy” for its heat-resilient texture and succulence!
Pencil California Asparagus – Skinny, tender, tasty purple-tipped and LOCAL! So thin it cooks in a flash!
Baby Celery – from Yasutomi Farm, more leaves than stalk, hydroponically grown, slender and almost herbaceously tasty stalks. The best baby celery available. Period.
Jerry’s Berries Strawberries (Galante variety) from Rutiz Farm – sweeter than candy!!
Continue reading “FARMERS' MARKET REPORT: WEEK OF MAY 31, 2009”