Monday, January 17, 2011

Turkish Farmer's Markets

Farmers' MarketImage by NatalieMaynor via FlickrSo here's another difference between Turkey and the US.

In Turkey, I visited my neighborhood pazar (farmer's market) once a week. A local street closed down and farmer's hoisted their colorful tarps, tents and cloth umbrellas over their crates of veggies. The smell was intoxicating. Fresh herbs mixed with tomato, cucumber and melons...Oh, those melons were the best I'd ever eaten in my entire life! Vine ripe was not a term used lightly. Everything tasted like you grew it in the backyard.

I expected to get a deal there, versus the higher prices found in the supermarket chains like Migros. If I missed my pazar, I could always stop at the one across town the next day. I brought my market tote, which never went out of style in Turkey, btw.  I'd fill it up with fabulous fresh produce, maybe some köy yumurta (village eggs) with yolks the color of ripe apricots, and walked away happy as a lark with more than enough food for the week. The idea was, the farmer had cut out the middle man, so I got more for my money.

It's a different story here. On Saturday mornings I have to get up at the crack of dawn and fight the crowd for a two dollar organic tomato. My local farmer's market here is quaint, with small white wooden stalls and local musicians to match. But if you're later than 9 o'clock, it's slim pickins, and the eggs are way expensive. If I miss the early shift there, I can always go to the regional farmer's market, which is open more days than just the one, but stocks less "beautiful" stuff in the steel building near the airport. I can also get some pretty decent eggs at Harris Teeter for less. Where's the fun in that? Sometimes I just say "bah humbug" to it all and head to Trader Joe's.

I can't really blame the farmers here though. Land is expensive, so they don't have the same efficiencies of scale that a farmer in Turkey still has. And even though I know the farmer's market here is expensive, I get excited when a new one opens. And I still get up on Saturday mornings to fight the crowd and support their lifestyle. After all, if I keep going, they'll keep farming.
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14 comments:

Jules said...

I keep hearing about this "Trader Joe's" I must check it out next time I'm in GA. Our farmers market is the same, small and if your late forget it :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Old Kitty said...

OH I think farmer's markets are fab!! I think the more they're used and the more popular they are then maybe they'd not be so expensive or hard to get too! Saying that there is a growing trend here in the UK to buy and sell local produce more and more in the big supermarkets- and as organically as possible!!! So it's all good! And yay for you for fighting the good fresh food, locally sourced, organic fight! :-)
Take care
x

Clarissa Draper said...

In Mexico here, we have markets (marcados) where they sell food and other items. I don't go as often but they are extremely popular.
CD

LTM said...

I lurv farmers markets... so interesting and inspiring. You should visit this area, we have them EVERYWHERE. It's a lot because this was a heavy farming community and to a certain extent still is... good stuff~ :o) <3

Carolyn V. said...

We have a ton of farming here. So there are farmer markets everywhere. But I would love to visit a street market. I just think it would be so cool!!! =)

The Golden Eagle said...

Luckily there are farmer's markets around here, during the summer months.

Holly Ruggiero said...

Oh, I do love the farmers market. They are just so much fun. Too bad it's pricey.

Hart Johnson said...

Farmer's markets in the US have changed so much since the 70s. They USED to be cheap here, too, I think. But I know, say in Portland's Saturday market (which is art, not produce, but I think the same thing applies) the cost of a booth adds to what they have to charge. Everyone wants to be there, so that's significant. And then in the current 'all local, all organic' climate... they know they CAN charge more. I know though, locally it is an option to buy a 'farm share' which is a weekly pick up of what is ripe, and THAT is a good deal--farmers can afford to do them cheap because the customer isn't picking over just the favorites, but rather taking in a collection of what they currently have a fair amount of. I had a friend who did it and felt like the biggest problem was having to learn how to cook some strange things, but she also got all the stuff she liked.

Christopher said...

I wish there as a good farmers market near me, my options for getting fresh foods are pretty limited.

Deniz Bevan said...

I keep hearing about Trader Joe's too - how much longer before they come up to Canada, I wonder? Still, I miss going to the pazar. Not even the regular pazar, I also miss the Ulus pazari in Istanbul, with all the knock off clothing and home furnishings and what not. I still have a shirt and a blanket that I bought from there!

Ayak said...

Our Turkish markets aren't as cheap as they once were. The prices have risen a fair bit this past year. Well I guess prices everywhere have risen. I love our market in Milas, when I can cope with the crowded dolmuş from the village. We have a small "market" in our village on a Monday afternoon which consists of 2 stalls! Not much variety but it's all good stuff.

Vicki Rocho said...

...okay, don't throw any rotten tomatoes at me or anything, but I've never been to a farmer's market. How sad is that when I live in a state known for agriculture?

Will Burke said...

I stopped by from Jessica's (AA), and when I saw that you had a post on Kundalini, I had to read on. You've got a great space here, and I enjoy cross-cultural perspectives, so this is right up my alley! Cheers!

Molly Hanim said...

Hi - I just found this post while searching for pazars in my neighborhood (Etiler). Was this market in Rumeli Hisar by any happy chance? If so, where?? Thanks!

- A very hungry expat in Istabul

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