First, let's see how you all shop, then some thoughts on shopping conscientiously and how you don't necessarily need a farmers' market on your block to do it.
Even in my every-day cooking life, I'm running around town. It goes like this: I tend to get cheese, local ice cream, and dried pastas at Murray's, most vegetables from a few different stands at the Union Square Greenmarket, some staples from a near-by grocery store like Whole Foods, spices and nuts from Foods of India in Murray Hill, the list goes on. And when preparing to make a special meal for guests, I get even more picky.
And then sometimes I run out of energy. We're out of town this week so I do not have the usual vendors at my fingertips and for last night's meal, I got a real thrill out of buying everything from the one supermarket in town. It was downright relaxing. Go figure.
I firmly believe in making a connection with the food we eat, so when given the choice, I'll make those extra trips, hopefully on foot, to different purveyors: the farmer who actually grew that lemon, the butcher who has been cutting meat for decades. But I have the luxury of these outings being part of my job and I know many and most people are too busy to tread so methodically about town picking up this and that.
Let me invite you though to embrace the origins of your food. Even if you don't have the time or resources to purchase from the source, or from a small specialty store, you can consider where it came from, if there are alternatives that are closer, if it's in season. Give a little thanks for it. This is what I call conscientious cooking. It starts with the trip to the grocery store, or farm-stand, or with the click of your mouse.