# Posted: 3 Oct 06 02:36
In the last 20 years or so, many people living in the USA have become
more interested in how their food is grown, who is growing it, and how
far it has to travel to come to market. More organic choices are
available, even in supermarkets; and we look for more variety. Our new
immigrant populations introduce us to new foods too. Salsa, not
ketchup, is the most popular condiment in the US.
One by-product of this interest in better food is the rise of the small
farmers market. Many towns near Boston as well as neighborhoods in the
city itself hold small open-air markets once or twice a week. Our
winters are harsh and snowy, usually, so the markets tend to run from
late spring until October or close to our Thanksgiving holiday in late
November. The same kind of markets are held in many cities, large and
small, around the country. The most famous are probably New York
City's Greenmarkets, which began in the 1970s and have revived small
farming around the metropolitan New York area.
Family farmers all over the US struggle to compete with large
commercial farms and many have lost their farms. The farmers markets
give an alternative means of distribution,and provide alternative food
sources to those looking for a way to eat that is kinder to the
environment, and supports local farmers, as well as provides fresher
and more interesting varieties. Plus, it's great to meet the people
who grow your food!
Americans eat zillions of tons of tomatoes every year. For a long time
we've been eating tasteless tomatoes bred to travel thousands of miles
before ripening, loaded with pesticides. This farm stand at the
Somerville, Massachusetts Farmers Market specializes in a large
selection of colorful, ripe, organic, heirloom varieties.
In addition to produce, farmers bring flowers to market. This couple
brings fresh flowers and bouquets from Vermont during the summer. In
Fall, they provide everlastings and dried arrangements. Closer to the
holidays they will bring wreaths and evergreens.
Local products like bread and handmade cheeses also sell at the market.
This lady (with the Autumnal hair) is selling syrups, pickles, sugar,
and candy, made from maple sap. Maple (Acer) is a very traditional New
England crop. The trees are tapped in late winter and early spring,
then the sap is boiled into a uniquely flavored, dark, almost bitter
syrup. If you come to the US, be sure to try it on pancakes or
waffles. Don't eat grocery store syrup. Demand maple!
After the Vietnam war ended, thousands of Hmong came from Laos to the
US. In their own land they were often small farmers, and many became
agricultural laborers when they arrived here. Now many Hmong-Americans
own their own farms, and train other new arrivals, not only from the
Hmong community, to grow special crops like these beautiful greens.
The farmer here works at the Flats Mentor Farm, where there are
training and internship programs for new farmers.
Another new development at the market in Somerville is the sale of
fresh shellfish. Shellfish is still relatively plentiful in the
Eastern US, and some is grown on sea-farms. This man now brings small
batches of oysters and clams to the market. I hope he makes a go of
it--I love these!
Of course the ultimate New England vegetable in the Fall is the
pumpkin. These small sugar pumpkins are a favorite for soups and pies,
and, of course--jack-o-lanterns!
I hope you have a happy Fall (and Halloween, although we're still a bit
early for that.)
# Posted: 3 Oct 06 02:44
Very interesting Charlotte, this kind of market is similar to something we have here in uruguay and I think in Argentina too, called in spanish "Feria", and I believe it have not got a translation. For this markets, the "ferias", there are days in the week where some streets are closed to the vehicles and are transformed into "ferias", very similar to what you have in US.
Unfortunately, in Uruguay, we doestn celebrate Halloween : (
# Posted: 3 Oct 06 07:28
This is a very nice series. Nice pics & nice story. In Holland it's the same: farmers struggle to stay alive. Some of them changing their way of farming into an organic way. More and more their goods are sold in supermarkets and little shops, but also there are weekly markets for organic products. In The Hague there's one in the city center. Not only the products are very tasty, it's also a nice and friendly place to be. Much nicer than the common market, which, with more then 400 stalls, is the biggest in Europe and where you have to make your way through the crowd, always with a change that your wallet gets stolen.
# Posted: 3 Oct 06 09:36
Nice Scarlet,and as in Akbar's The Hague, here in Rotterdam is also a tiny market every Tuesday.Only a few stalls,but with great food.But we also have a big shop here,it is more a little mall with a butcher, a supermarket,cloth, furniture and even a restaurant. Everything biological! I think that lately people are more conscious about their food,
# Posted: 3 Oct 06 10:25
I love the pictures scarlet, special the one with the tomatoes. There are some species shown in your picture that are 'old' species. Normally, in this part of the netherlands, you wouldn't find those in the shops. As I work in the wholesale of vegetables and fruits I do know them , the demanding for those varieties is growing, special from restaurants for their good taste. And perhaps it will find his way in the whole of netherlands. ( almelo is retarded yes!!....;-) )
# Posted: 3 Oct 06 18:23
Nice story with very nice AND informative pictures. What really interested me was the information about the Hmong. I just finished a book about the war in Laos ("Shooting at the moon") and about the Hmong. In Laos they were called Meo. They were the hilltribes-people of Laos on the border with Vietnam. Through their land ran the infamous Ho Chi Min trail. Many Hmong fought with American advisers (mostly CIA, because the military was officially not allowed to fight in Laos - or Cambodja) against the North Vietnamese Army and the Vietcong. After the collapse of South Vietnam, the war in Laos was not over yet. The Phatet Lao (communists), with help from North Vietnam, took over Laos and from then on the Hmong were hunted down and killed. A few thousand Hmong fled to Thailand and from there to the US.
It is good to hear that some of them at least created a new existence for themselfs.
Thank you for this story and the information about the Hmong, Scarlet.
# Posted: 3 Oct 06 19:02
John, Thanks for adding more info about the Hmong. Currently there are about 200,000 Hmong immigrants (according to US Census) who have come to the US since the end of the Vietnam war. It;s a difficult story, and many of these immigrants still struggle with significant financial problems. The good news is that at every farmers market I've been to, across the US, Hmong farmers & cooperatives are present, so they are making their way, and helping each other to restore their traditional livelihood in a new country, to the benefit of all.
A good article on an assitance prorgram in California (where so much farming is done):
# Posted: 3 Oct 06 19:20
Thank you Scarlet, for the link.about the Hmong in California. Good to read that so many still survived. And made a new life for themselves and their families.
It is allways the people of a country that suffer during a war. Politicians make war, soldiers fight them and the people die.
Oh yes, and the big companies make money.
Will people ever learn from history?