Mar 26, 2009

A while back, someone whom I respect immensely, but with whom I do not get along with (let's leave it at that, it's a small town!), accused me, "You're not a foodie, are you, Andy?" It stopped me in my tracks.

Foodie. Honestly, I had to run and google it! Here's a link to the awesome Wikepedia for a definition

There's a saying, "Judge people not so much by what they say, but by what they do." I would add a subtext. Go easy on them when they screw up, or take longer than you're in the mood to wait for. Cranky, me? Yeah, I am, kinda. It's been a long week and everyone seems on edge. Please do not adjust your picture, normal service will resume soon.

So here's the rub. Two issues bothered me with the foodie thing. I'm sure my accuser did not mean the former, but definitely the latter:

  1. I dislike exclusion: closed groups of any kind who do not openly welcome everyone. High School never truly goes away - it resurfaces like a bad taco. The term foodie, I thought, was kind of like a closed group. Being accused of not being one, stung. It meant I was not in the club. I own a food market, don't I belong in that club? Exclusion goes against everything I'm aiming for with Good For You. Really I should have named the business, "Good For Everyone!"
  2. G4U Market is more than health food. We are a great food market. My accuser, I believe, was challenging me, "If you're running a food market, then, waddya know, buddy?" G4U exists to bring choices into our, somewhat rural beach community; choices that we're more familiar with from our metro areas to our west and north. I don't say this to tell everyone how great we are. I say this to remind everyone of what we can do for you. From day 1 when we opened the doors at the Good For You Market I wanted this business to be a food market that has great food, plus the crunchy wierd stuff you see at your food co-ops in urban areas. Where else are we going to buy that at the beach? However, we're a small business, with a tight budget and we cannot do it all at once. It's taken me 2 years to finally find decent cheeses and suppliers in the Philadelphia and Washington DC areas for products you just cannot find at the beach. Now we have decent cheeses. Now we've added delivery. Now we sell direct to customers and to other businesses so you can find our great cheeses and produce at your favorite restaurant.
Being accused of not being a foodie made me look at the store from a customer's standpoint. I now walk the store, recipe, or magazine article in hand - can I find enough ingredients at the G4U Market to make that recipe, or a knowledgeable person who can suggest a substitution? Does a passion for food drive the G4U staff to know how to combine these ingredients, track down hard to find items, set up a demo on baking with Agave Nectar, or whole grains, facilitate a cheese club or gluten free club or vegetarian/vegan club? There is a reason I work so hard to keep a chef on staff at the G4U Market. Not because chefs are difficult to work with, no. It's a complicated line of business to be in - prepared meals/pastries. Chefs helps us all get better at, well, being foodies. You go Chef! Good for you!
Ever seen people like me at the market? I'm the guy at the fish counter at Whole Foods Market, grilling the fish guy (no pun intended!). I want to know everything about that salmon. Where did it come from? Why is it that color? Why does the recipe I'm following suggest this particular herb with it? Can I see the salmon's resume? Does it come from a good family? Whole Foods Market are geniuses at what they do. There's a reason they're a sponsor of Bravo's Top Chef program. They are a model for us at G4U. I started this business because, having moved here full time from Baltimore, I got fed up of driving back to the city twice a month for groceries, cleaning products, and the like. Indulge me, if you will. Listen to others at the dinner table, or happy hour, how many people are doing the same thing? What does that say to our local stores? There's much more for me, in being a food retailer than sticking it on the shelf and crossing your fingers until the product hits the sale rack, and gets dropped for a blander product. I'm fed up of tasteless bread or cheese, over priced olive oils that I haven't a clue why the recipe is calling for. I'm tired of driving to the city for someone who knows which type of sea salt to use in a recipe and which type to throw on your food before serving.
Why do I love to use the phrase, "What's up foodies?" I'm intentionally poking fun at the 'seriousness' of it all. We all eat, right? There's nothing wrong with passion for food. Indeed, the opposite - apathy is sad. Good food, sustainably grown/produced, knowledgeably made and sold is just too important for our health and our planet's health.
Truth is, I am a foodie, I just didn't know it! I'm a foodie when I grill the fish guy at Whole Foods Market. I'm a foodie when I'm thumbing through the seed catalogs planning out my veggie garden for the season. I'm a foodie when I'm meeting with a vendor negotiating pricing on a new food line we're about to carry. I'm a foodie when I quiz the staff on olive oils. I'm a foodie when a customer stumps me with a question on some ingredient I've never heard of. The customer is a foodie when they tell me what it is so we can work to bring it and run a cooking demo with it. I'm a foodie even when I get home at 10pm after a long day and grab that frozen pizza because I'm too tired to cook. Thankfully we have a chef on staff and I can now grab a prepared meal so I don't have to cook at 10pm! You are a foodie reading this blog right know, even if you're grabbing a hand full of potato chips (please, baked, organic corn, rice, or potato!). Sorry, did I make you spill your soda? It's rude to point.
At G4U, the door to the foodie club is well and truly open, off its hinges and in the recycle bin. Hopefully it'll make a nice dinner table around which to share great food.
Thank you un-named local person, with whom I do not get along. I appreciate your input and thank you for your push to make me better at serving our community. We make an impact on others even when we don't think so. We really are all connected, even if we do not get along!


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