Today I’m interviewing Poppy Tooker. Poppy is the founder of Slow Food New Orleans, a chef, a food activist, the chair emeritus of Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste Committee, and the author of the just-released Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook—among other things. I mean, what hasn’t this woman done?
The book is self-published by marketumbrella.org, an independent New Orleans-based non-profit that brings vendors and shoppers together to preserve local culture, generate wealth and support the local economy, with its central axis being the Crescent City Farmers Market. When you buy your copy of the book from marketumbrella.org, not only will 100% of net proceeds go to benefit the work of marketumbrella.org; in addition, you can request that Poppy personalize your book with a message!
Q: Reading the cookbook, I was struck that what you have there in New Orleans is not just a market, but a community built around food. Can you tell us a bit about that community, and how it came to be?
Tooker: People in New Orleans truly live to eat. When visitors come to the city they find that hard to believe…I’ve had people say that they just stand still on a street corner and listen to the conversations of people as they walk by and what they are all talking about is food. As arguably the greatest food city in the US, it goes hand in hand that we would also care about where our food comes from.
Richard McCarthy [Executive Director of marketumbrella.org] knew that we needed a real food market that could create a real sense of community, more than a place to just buy food. We created guidelines that in order to be part of our market, you have to produce the food that you bring, and we only sell food at our market. The farmers from the Northshore were very suspicious about coming across the lake, but Richard sweet-talked them and that is how our little food community began.