Living in the SF bay area for the past 7 years, we got spoiled. The temperate weather, natural landscapes, presence of diverse ethnic communities serving up delicious and authentic cuisines at reasonable prices, and the omnipresent farmers markets. No matter the time of year, there was a daily farmers market going on.
Funny enough, at the very first farmers market in SF in 1943, only pears and apples were sold. Since then, the farmers market trend has evolved into a staple of life. Now, fast forward to the modern day farmers market, where much of the wares would not even be recognizable to farmers of the 40’s. Artisanal cheeses, gluten-free baked breads, coconut water, organic body butters and soaps, coffee stands with latte art…
I mention this history only to show that the growth of the farmers market movement takes time. And it takes many players to help grow this cultural shift in eating and buying locally––farmers, local government, and consumers, restauranteurs, and many others.
Farmers must learn and continue to practice sustainable farming techniques, follow regulations on organic and other certification, adapt to climate change, rising costs in farming and transportation, and an increase in consumer food related health conditions.
Local government need to think more progressively and provide the infrastructure to support and allow setup of more farmers markets to bridge the gap between urban and rural, agricultural communities.
As consumers living in an urban city, we should strive to make the proper food choices, because we have the choice. We are bombarded with tempting food choices all day. This is especially true in Tokyo, where you can buy most of your groceries and meals for the day at a 7-Eleven or Lawsons. And busy people do. But, when presented with the choice, we can make a conscious effort to buy local. Imported blueberries or locally produced strawberries? The decision is impactful in many ways. Locally farmed produce is more flavorful and nutritious, and leaves a smaller carbon footprint. When we buy locally, we support the livelihood of farmers, and that brings wealth into our community and strengthens local economies. And by supporting these farmers, who for the most part engage in cleaning farming practices (compared to commercial producers), this helps preserve the environment for future generations. But I digress.
All good reasons for buying locally at farmers markets, but mostly, it’s really fun to go! Where else can you taste fresh produce that was picked earlier that morning, meet farmers and artisans who have honed their craft, get inspiration to cook your dinner, and teach your kids where their food comes from?
The Farmers Market at UNU (United Nations University), just a short walk from Omotesando station, is held every Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Some vendors are always there while others have a more sporadic presence. But the produce is local and much of it is organic. Since we live close, we have been twice now, and have come across some pretty sweet finds.
Bugrass Farms fresh produce stand has some of the best looking and highest quality organic veg. Their greens are fresh picked that morning. I will write a post soon on how to order a Farm Vegetable Box from them for delivery to your home.
Walking around all this fresh food can really build up an appetite. There are several food trucks that offer up fresh and tasty snacks and plate lunches. There was so much delicious foodstuffs on display, including this roast pork vendor whose hanging roast pork butt is the best advertising material you need:
And me, taking pictures of everything…as usual. Much to my friends’ hunger’s dismay.
And lastly, just because this guy is dope…. he gets the final shot.
An antique market, the Aoyama Weekly Antique Market, sets up on Saturdays there at the farmer’s market. It’s a handful of vendors, and their wares range from antique jewelry to clothing to lamps and beautiful hand dyed fabrics. I’ll post on this later.
In front of United Nations University, 5-53-70 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Saturdays and Sundays 10am – 4pm