By and large, the demand for instant gratification has overtaken to our food system.
Consumers have lost touch with the seasons and no longer know how to wait for fruit and vegetables to come into season. We want it all, and we want it now. As a result, the way food is being produced has changed. In a bid to guarantee the convenience of year-round availability, speed has become the single most important factor when it comes to selecting varieties or growing methods.
All of this speed comes at the cost of flavour, something the growers we work with value above all else. Saving their own seeds, holding out for optimal weather conditions, prioritising flavour over yield - their produce requires skilled, unhurried attention to reach its full potential. Our stores reflect this pace: in them, we aim to share the value of waiting for produce to come into season and of appreciating minor shifts in flavour when it does. We want our customers to slow down to observe small variations throughout the season of each variety, rather than just expecting produce to be always the same and in constant supply.
One customer in particular was inspired by the patient artistry of our growers. In our newest shop, Fulham-resident Harry saw Carmelo’s Navel Oranges not just as a readily available fruit but as a potential work of art - and decided to paint them. Harry wouldn’t call himself an artist, even if evidence goes against him. Once an advertising director, he appreciates how long it can take for an idea to come into fruition. Now retired, he shares his expertise with institutions
such as Sadler’s Wells, Frieze, the Russell Maliphant Company, environments that provide developing artists with the ongoing support they need to grow.
It was after a visit to his local art school, of which he is a trustee, that Harry decided to try his hand at painting. Starting with friends and family, Harry’s unique style brought to life the close, enduring connection he had to each of his subjects.
Where Harry gradually learnt to mix his oils, Carmelo spent years finding the perfect growing conditions for his each of his varieties. Both work at a natural, steady pace, holding off on showing the world their work until it is completely finished - the final stroke painted, the fruit completely ripe.
Once finished Harry brought his painting to our store, to the source of inspiration and the place where he felt most connected to Carmelo. It felt only right that these works of art should be connected at source. Carefully bound and with a handwritten note from Harry, we sent the painting along our supply chain, wending its way to Carmelo in Sicily. It reached Scordia just before Christmas and now sits on Carmelo’s mantelpiece, a constant reminder that his work is appreciated far beyond the limits of his citrus grove.