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Vegetable galleries

There are now new stores that look like galleries, showcasing vegetables in the same manner as fine wines, meats, artisan cheeses, or even handbags, fragrances, and other products. New campaigns and partnerships also seek to elevate unique strains and varieties for their taste profile.

Sweetgreen’s latest partnership, Designer Squash, is being promoted by posters in hip New York neighborhoods. The trendy salad chain teamed up with vegetable breeders from Row 7, a bespoke seed company, to offer a brand new strain of zucchini called Robin’s Koginut. Sweetgreen introduced the customized squash to its menu in October 2018 to bring a sense of exclusivity to its salads and side dishes. Row 7 was launched in February 2018. According to MindBodyGreen, cofounder and chef Dan Barber’s mission is to “make flavorful and nutritious produce accessible for dining rooms and home kitchen tables everywhere.”

Retail environments also elevate vegetables to daily indulgences by creating lavish settings. Harrods appointed a “vegetable butcher” who offers “bespoke cuts and blends” against a background of luxury cues and moody lighting that is usually reserved for boutiques. Reimagined Food Halls at the luxury retailer opened in November 2018. They bring to produce an elite aesthetic that is generally reserved for high-end retail. Alex Dower says that the Food Halls are a sensory experience with a celebration of ingredients and a majestic environment.

Natoora is a curated produce shop in London that was described as the “Aesop” of vegetables by design bible Wallpaper*. It opened in London on October 18, 2018. The store presents vegetables like works of art. They are displayed on shelves made from smooth concrete, with labels that resemble museum captions and a focus on provenance. Tube lights by luxury lighting designer PS Lab illuminate the display. The store was designed to reflect the fact that many of Natoora’s growers are artists.

Fubini says that the care and thought put into the design of the store is only the beginning of the revolution in the food system. More than ever before, it is important to seek out seasonality and flavor in produce. This is not only for environmental reasons but also because of our cultural heritage. “We need to see farming as a form of craftsmanship.”

Trends are a reflection of changing consumer behavior. According to the Telegraph, veganism and plant-based diets have been on the rise. In the United Kingdom alone, 8 million people identify themselves as vegetarians or vegans. In the past few years, chefs from Blue Hill’s Dan Barber and Noma’s Rene Redzepi have launched vegetable-centric menus. Noma debuted a “vegetable-only” menu from June to September in 2018.

The intellectualization of flavors and methods is being re-energized as people are turning to menus based on vegetables, just like they have done with other food categories such as coffee or olive oil. City farms will be the next step for art galleries.

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