Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Truth about Parisian Markets

The open air market is one of the fixtures of Parisian life.  Everyone has their favorite market (even if it's not the one in their quartier) and everyone also has their favorite vendors.  And even if you don't do all or even half your food shopping there, it's hard not to love them for their visual wow.  The fruit!  The flowers!  The fish!  The veggies!   I take all my visitors to the market and truly, it never fails to impress.

But here's the deal folks.  With all the talk about reducing our carbon footprint, eating locally, and eating what it's in season, it's important to recognize that Parisian markets are not necessarily models for this type of behavior.  Most importantly, most Parisian markets are NOT farmers' markets.  Take a look at the country of origin (a required label) here:

What's on offer at the market may often be better than what's available at the supermarket.  But that's not because the vendor raised it himself.  He may just have good connections at Rungis, the vast wholesale food market on the outskirts of Paris.   So, if you want to buy local produce, you need to look for a vendor marked "producteur."

Paris food writer Phyllis Flick has written a long and thoughtful post on how to eat locally in Paris and if that's your goal, I suggest you take the time to read what she has to say.   Personally I'm not quite ready to go completely local (what, no more mangos unless I move to the tropics?!) but at least I'm doing my buying with my eyes wide open.


Brenna [fabuleuxdestin] said...

I never realized that. Here in the country everything is local, but that's because we only have one market per week. I will check out the link now!

debbie in toronto said...

GREAT TIP ANNE!....producteur..that's the word to look for...very cool

Starman said...

It's funny to read this post because I told this same information to someone a few years ago and they didn't believe me. Of course, you know that French people who live close to the border of Germany and Spain, do most of their shopping in those countries because the same items are about half the price they are in France.

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