How can you get more people to shop at their local farmers market? One way might be to show them exactly what can happen with the produce they buy. Last summer, a group of London designers created a pop-up restaurant at their local market to do exactly that.
Visitors looked at a chalkboard "shopping list," showing what ingredients they should buy for the day's meal, and then went from stand to stand in the market buying food—a step that the designers hoped would help introduce people to farmers they might not have otherwise met.
After buying the food, shoppers exchanged it for a meal cooked by chefs to demonstrate how cheaply good food could be made from the ingredients. (To help feed people quickly, the meals were actually cooked in advance, and the food purchased at lunchtime was used to cook dinner for the next round of participants; food purchased at dinnertime was used the next day).
The designers built their temporary, two-story restaurant in a vacant spot at the farmer's market. Diners could trade in their food on the lower level, watch the chefs, and then go upstairs to eat. The meal itself was served on a long, communal table with a twist: the middle of the table could be lowered through the floor to the kitchen, where chefs added the food, and then raised back up to the second floor for diners to eat.
Unlike a standard restaurant, every part of this experience kept diners more connected to their food—meeting the farmers, choosing the ingredients themselves, and watching the finished meal arrive in an unforgettable way. It's an interesting idea.
This month, we're challenging the GOOD community to host a dinner party and cook a meal that contains fewer ingredients than the number of people on the guest list. Throughout March, we'll share ideas and resources for being more conscious about our food and food systems. Join the conversation at good.is/food and on Twitter at #chewonit.
Images courtesy of The Decorators