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August 18, 2018

WHERE ARE THE FARMERS’ MARKETS IN YOUR CITY?

It’s always a good experience to be able to visit markets here and abroad. I mean farmers’ markets where they sell a lot of local vegetables and fruits, homemade breads and jams, puto and bibingka and even some lumpia. I’m not very fond of wet markets, so farmers’ markets and weekend markets are my choice of destinations.

When I travel, I head to the local markets, too. In some cities like Paris you have to check which market is open on a particular day. For example, the Bastille market may be open only on Wednesdays as well as the St. Remy market in southern France. In one district, there’s one market day.

Here in the country, there are farmers’ markets in Cebu and Davao, too, much like the Legaspi or Salcedo institutions but in a much smaller scale. I’m happy these markets have started with our ECHOstore partners—Sarah Claudio in Davao City and Johann and Meyan Young in ECHOstore Cebu’s Streetscape mall. The Slow Food communities start the earth markets (that’s what they are called in Slow Food language) like how Aurora Perez and Teresa Ruelas of the Slow Food Cebu Convivium called Puso Nato.

In Rome, I headed to Campo di Fiori where surprisingly you will no longer see many native Italians selling as new migrants who speak perfect Italian have taken over the stalls.

Not yet satisfied with the market offerings, I headed to another area to visit—Mercado Testaccio. I met an Italian lady who sells seeds and garden stuff. Most of the stall owners, again, are already immigrants. Not a problem, I thought, as they still offer the freshest produce and some cook their house specials for the hungry shopper.

In Florence we got up early to catch the first sandwich at Mercato Centrale. To our surprise, one has to wait for 9 am while they are still cooking the meats. Mercato has food upstairs but the popular Nerbone (famous for its roast beef sandwich) only is open in the ground floor and only from 9am. All around it are market stalls for produce, herbs, and meats.

In Normandy I got to visit a market in the cold of winter in Deauville but still found nice artisanal cheeses and jams as well as fresh vegetables. Real French grandpas, proud of their heirloom recipes, were selling the gourmet delights.

It’s a wonderful experience to feel the local culture by visiting the farmers’ markets. This is what Cebu, Davao, and soon maybe even Cagayan de Oro City, will be ready to show off—bringing the farmers’ produce to city slickers. Slow Food is the cornerstone this idea of creating places where farmers meet the consumers and where locavorism can be promoted.

Many people ask ”where do I buy fresh produce that’s traceable?”. You need not look far. Check out your local farmers’ market and talk to the producers. Ask them to grow our favorite vegetable or harvest your favorite fruit in season. It’s the new “suki” or favorite purveyor. Know your farmer and you will know where your food came from.

 

When travelling, visit a market. It’s where you can feel the real local vibe. In the USA (when I visit the West Coast) I often visit farmers’ markets where there’s a photo of the farmer pasted on a board and it shows the place where he or she comes from. More often, the farmer and his or her family would be around weighing your tomatoes.

In Slow Food Manila, we also started some Cavite women farmers to bring their produce to our garage to start a farmers’ market on weekends. After a few months, they moved to busier locations and I am happy to have started their journey to sustainability. Even Senator Kiko Pangilinan has brought his Sweet Valley Spring produce to the malls in Tagaytay where consumers can get his fresh vegetables. Over at SM Dasmariñas, the mall has provided a space for farmers to bring their local produce.

You only have to check where your nearest fresh market is. In Quezon City, the popular Siddcor Sunday market is still open every week and is located right by our ECHOstore in Centris Walk. There, farmers from not so local origins come anyway, even from La Union and Baguio.

It’s not the very idea of “buying local” but until Quezon City has sources that are closer, these farmers will have to travel long distances to get to Siddcor. A farmer from Lipa who I know also sells regularly at this location. Though needing improvement in sourcing only from a radius of say 50 kilometers, this market provides north Manila residents an option.

Let me know where your local markets are so others may know. You can start a Slow Food community with about 10 like-minded people who will help each other to source good, clean, and fair food for your household or restaurant. We can help you get started. Find a farmer or a few farmers then gather them into a community who will grow your food. It need not be a supermarket or grocery all the time—but buying fresh produce like you picked it yourself.

If you buy, the farmers will produce. If you buy, the farmers will come.

 

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