I was recently in the UK visiting family and checking out the whole food industry over there. Since I was last there has been a definite increase in awareness of raw foods and particularly fermented foods - jars of sauerkraut, kefir and all things live. I spent time wandering around the aisles in Wholefoods, other health food shops and food outlets and was excited to see ranges of new products particularly around coconuts which are so topical right now. I would say that New Zealand has the upper hand on all things gluten free, particularly around breads which are hard to find in the UK.
It seems that wherever you are there will be one close by on a Saturday or a Sunday either in a car park, a school playground or in town centres. They are very well attended, create communities and allow people to build up a rapport with the stallholders. It’s great to find out the source of the food that you are eating, where it was grown or reared, how it is produced. The other thing is that you know it has been freshly prepared or picked - none of the packaging that you get in supermarkets with long sell by dates and no idea of when it was actually packaged. It may sometimes be a little more expensive but that feels justified when you meet the people who are proudly supplying the produce and their dedication to the cause by being there every weekend, rain or shine to provide to their customers. It also allows a lot of these farmers to be able to cut out the middlemen such as supermarkets and to establish links with restaurants and other food outlets, selling to them directly.
Finally, it gives us access to regionally grown food - to fit the criteria in the UK you have to be within 100 miles of the market. It makes sense to be able to buy an apple from a local orchardist rather than one that has been shipped to a central distribution point and then transported back to your local retail outlet.