Friday, November 11, 2011

Street Markets in Hong Kong - where fresh is not directly from the farmer

Rochester Public Market vendors, Jay and Dick Haberger with shopper
Have you ever met the live chicken you later eat for dinner? Chad Amsler of Oldhome Farm in Walworth, and Jay and Dick Hayberger of Hayberger Farm in Hamlin sell live chickens at the Rochester Public Market. However, they do not process them on the spot for you to take home to eat.

Recently I was in Hong Kong and met the chicken we ate for dinner that evening. I was visiting our daughter and her family.

I went to the local street market daily with their helper Lisa who bargained and bought fresh produce, fruit, fish, meat or chicken for each day's meals.

To buy a chicken for dinner, first Lisa selected the price she wanted to pay, determined by the cage in which live chickens were stored. After thrusting the chicken almost in our face, the butcher dunked it, feathers and all, into one of the holes in the machine to the right of the cages. That I couldn't watch. When we returned 15 minutes later, the dressed chicken, feet and all, was ready to leave.

There were the vegetable stalls—variety of   vegetables like Chinese cabbage, choy sum, Japanese eggplant, bok choy, bitter melon, Chinese broccoli, mustard greens, daikon, taro . . .

And the fruit stalls . . . mango, pineapple, banana, Asian pears, apples, watermelon, kiwis, oranges . . .

And the fish stalls, whole or fillet—dead or alive, big or small . . .

Whether shopping for food, clothing, household supplies, hardware or shoe repair, there is a vendor there to meet one's needs.

Wherever I turned, there were people, cars, construction or carts. Often I went to the market with Lisa and my grandson. Even though he is only two years old, he's right in the midst, meeting the vendors from whom his dinner comes. What an amazing experience for him as well as for me!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Farmers' Markets are a Way of Life: From Turkey to Washington, DC

When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer years ago, I shopped at my town's local farmers' market. I lived in Eastern Turkey, far from Istanbul. Women wore colorful baggy pants called shalvars, squatting on the ground where they spread out their produce to sell. Men wore black shalvars and ragged sports jackets. They sold products like hot peppers from burlap bags, feta cheese from five gallon tins, dried eggplants and oranges in season.
In 2001 I returned to Turkey. While visiting a former student in Istanbul, I visited their local Monday  market.

Everything was available - from shoes and melons, grilled meat and grapes, clothes and kitchen wares. The market traveled going from one local area to another throughout the week.
Ten years later in 2011, the Peace Corps celebrated its 50th anniversary in Washington, DC. When I was there for the festivities, I saw an empty parking lot on the corner of Independence and 12th Street. On that rainy Friday, there was a Farmers' Market run by the US Department of Agriculture.
It was not nearly as colorful or big as that market in my town in Eastern Turkey or in Istanbul. However, the farmers were selling produce they grow or products they make like honey, cider or apples, pickles, pastries, or beef. The farmers come from nearby farms in Maryland or Virginia. The market is open on Fridays from June to October. Its operating instructions are available at

Next to the market is the People's Garden, a USDA project, showing the relationship between what is grown and what is eaten. Even in late September, several raised beds were filled with herbs or lettuce. Others had been harvested and looked as if they were prepared for winter.                                                         
The purpose of the People's Garden is

  • to grow fresh fruits and vegetables for those in need or native trees, shrubs and flowers for wildlife.
  • to demonstrate sustainable practices that nurture, maintain, and protect the health of our soil, water and air. To provide a beautiful place in our neighborhood to gather, learn, share and enjoy.
To find out more about the People's Garden and its initiatives, log onto:

Today farmers markets, big or small, are an important part of many people's lives.