Israeli sellers laugh, not scream to sell produce
The opening of a new open- air food market is far from headline news in Israel. Nearly every city in the country has a daily or weekly market, where shouting crowds and whistles are heard from miles away. “But this isn’t an ordinary market” affirms co-founder Michal Ansky, “this is Israel’s first real farmer’s market.”
Having just celebrated its one year anniversary, the farmer’s market, located in Tel Aviv’s new port, is officially recognized as an Earth Market-only the third of its kind in the world. Established by two female journalists and culinary experts- Shir Halpern and Michal Ansky- this market enables the public to bypass the ‘middleman’, and directly purchase food from producers. As a result of this direct interaction, the public can associate names, faces, and stories with their fresh food (a bit more interesting than bar codes and price tags, not to mention tastier). According to Slow Food, the market’s sponsor, this special relationship enables the public to become somewhat actively involved in the food production process, transforming them from merely anonymous consumers to ‘co-producers’.
All producers sell seasonal, naturally sourced, and highly diversified products. “We really try to emphasize diversity” Ansky proudly proclaims, “we currently have over more than seventy different types of tomatoes.” The success of this farmers’ market accurately depicts popular consumer demand; the public seeks high quality food, and the ability to establish a relationship with the people who grow it. In Israel, a variety of top quality fruit and vegetable species are reserved for export only. “Why should we settle for mediocre produce when the country is exporting a highly diverse array of top quality produce?” questions Ansky.
A diverse array of otherwise difficult to find heirloom vegetable varieties
Fortunately, the market’s success has prompted the establishment of another farmers’ market in the city of Ra’anana. Plans are also on their way for one in Jerusalem-which will bound to attract diversity in more than just one way other than simply tomatoes.
“We’re struggling like so many other like-minded people around the world” Ansky confesses, “to obtain strong support and sufficient subsidies from local municipalities and the government. We invite those people to come and visit, to really show them how important this market is.”
“I’ll assist you in your effort” I promised, “and invite them over here for a meal too. Of course, it’ll be made from easily accessible Israeli ‘export quality’ produce, to really show them what they’ve been missing at home!”