Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lessons from a Food Show

Last night, I was very excited to attend the 26th annual Indianapolis Fruit Company Food Show.  This is only the second year that bloggers have been included - it's a trade show for farmers, distributors, grocery stores, etc.  Many of the vendors weren't quite sure what a blogger was doing there while others quickly embraced and understood the power of "word of mouth" in social media.

Food porn galore.  I ate more than I can remember.  I had a plum, I actually enjoyed raw turnip, several salsas and dips, picked up a huge artichoke, and got to try many fun snacks.

There was food at every turn, people to talk to and an amazing array of fruits, veggies, and more.

But that wasn't my favorite part of the event.

It wasn't seeing some blogging friends.  It wasn't meeting The Produce Mom.  It wasn't even the open bar.

It was sitting down to eat a fajita and finding myself at a table with a man, his 2 sons, and his son-in-law.  This man has given almost 40 years to the food business, primarily in grocery.  He currently owns a grocery store in a small town in Illinois.

He and I sat and talked for a bit about operating a small market in the era of big savings at super stores - Wal Mart and Super Target and Meijer.

He has no bitterness toward some of those companies.  He admires the chains that have started small and grown (like local Indiana grocery store, Marsh, that was family owned and still has many of the Marsh family working there).  He does not admire the big stores that bully their way into a community, bully their way through relationships, bully their way in the business.  He said he has survived only because he's in a small town and the closest national chain big store is at least 30 miles away.

He's a man who just likes being part of his community and there are few ways to be so important to a community than through food.

And that's why being part of this food trade show was so incredible - I got to eat and drink and visit.  But more than that, I got to rub elbows with people who are part of one of the main fabrics of America.  Food. Farms. Fruits and veggies.

(and now I am craving an apple or a salad or something!!)



Garret said...

Who doesn't know what a blog is? How'd they react to you taking pictures?

Katherine said...

That looks amazing!

I'm with that man: I have no patience for bullying local business. I support local business as much as I can.