Monday 11 May 2015

Union Square Market

Union Square Market is a terrific Farmers Market in the heart of New York city. Held every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, farmers and food producers travel down from upstate New York, and as far away as Pennsylvania, with their wares.

The market has sprung back to life now that the growing season is under way. There were double the number of stalls this time than on my last visit in March. Seasonal produce included young spring garlic, ramps, nettles (at $8 a pound!) chickweed and ground elder. 

They were also selling beautiful eggs and fresh chickens and doing a roaring trade in chicken broth - that people are now realising the value of - at $10 for 24 fluid ounces!

There are several wonderful bread stalls including a not-for-profit enterprise called Hot Bread Kitchen - which makes and sells gorgeous authentic multi ethnic breads including: m'smen - made with white and semolina flour, plain or filled with cheese, kale and onion; nane barbari, a flattish indented oval bread sprinkled with sesame and nigella seeds; quandi, little sweet breads made with butter, milk  and honey; bealys with caramelised onion and poppyseed; Moroccan flatbreads... I wanted to taste everything.

Nane barbari and m'smen

There were lots of stalls selling pickles and ferments - all doing a roaring trade.

I greatly admire the system where local people can bring along their food waste so that it can be composted, and in exchange they get a bag of rich compost to grow some of their own food. In Manhattan this means growing in pots on window ledges and balconies. It's a terrific system, reflecting and encouraging the growing interest in urban gardening and one which could be implemented in so many places around the world with relative ease.

They also have an education station. I was there on a Wednesday and there were lots of teachers bringing school groups of children along to see the various stalls and learn about how food is produced. Now that's what I call real education.