I buy as much as possible of my fruit, vegetables, and other food, at a farmer’s market. Farmers’ markets are like Japan’s asaichi (morning markets) and are held only on weekends with tents pitched on the grounds of schools, parks, and racing courses. The markets open at around 7 in the morning and the stalls are taken down after noon, at about 1. They sell locally grown fruit, vegetables, eggs, fresh flowers, seafood, meat, and so on, and the people who actually grow the fruit and vegetables at their farms come to sell their produce, so you can get everything fresh, just picked. The eggs sold at supermarkets have surprisingly long use-by dates (much longer than in Japan, so I try not to eat them raw), but you can get fresh ones at the markets that have been laid two or three days before. I used to regularly go to an organic market, but the prices for organic produce are more than double, so recently I have been buying spray-free vegetables and fruit. There’s little difference between the prices of spray-free fruit and vegetables at the farmer’s market and supermarkets. Occasionally there will be someone selling various things other than food, like clothes, sundries, and so on, but it's not such a large market, so it's just the right size for a quick shop. They mostly sell the fruit and vegetables by weight, so you can buy just as much as you need. Australia has four seasons, like Japan, so you can get seasonal produce when it’s in season. It might be surprising to you, but you can also get vegetables that are common in Japan, like Chinese cabbage, daikon radish, mizuna (mustard greens), garland chrysanthemum, turnips, and okra. On the other hand, they also have vegetables you don’t see much in Japan, like beetroot (a vegetable like a red turnip), leeks (a vegetable like thick scallions), and silver beet, a leafy vegetable like a cross between Chinese cabbage and bok choy. Many of the farmers at these markets are Asian, so they sell green papaya, kang kong (water spinach), turmeric, as well as some leafy vegetables that I’ve never seen before and don’t know what dishes they are used in. They don’t have the regular shopping bags, so you bring your food shopping home in a bag, basket, or cardboard box that you bring with you. There are about 30 to 40 stalls all up, and they mostly set similar prices, so there’s virtually no difference between their prices. I used to meet a friend at the market and she would tell me, "The stall over there is the cheapest,” but if one stall dropped their prices, the others would bring their prices down to stay competitive, so now they pretty well have the same sorts of prices. They mainly sell fruit and vegetables, but there is one meat stall and one seafood stall that sells freshly caught shrimp and fish, and there’s one that specializes in mushrooms. I always bring a large basket, but after I’ve bought a whole pineapple and this and that, the basket quickly gets incredibly heavy. There are stalls where you can have a coffee or a hot dog, and so on, and they put out tables and chairs here and there. The market I go to is on the grounds of an elementary school and over on one side of the market is a space for kids to play with a sandpit and a slide, so the little kids play there while the parents take a break, sit on the chairs in the area, and have a coffee or get some breakfast. I sometime enjoy chatting with friends after doing my shopping over my favorite Dutch pancakes and a latte. It feels great to go for a walk and just wander around the markets on a nice day.
Fresh fruit and vegetables on display, as is.
(left): They also sell houseplants. They are in better condition and cheaper than buying them at a home improvement center.
(right): A butcher. There's meat in the trailer.
(left): A silver accessory stall. They have a lot of nice beach-themed designs.
(right): This stall sells baskets and accessories made in Ghana, Africa.
My favorites are these lovely baskets.
There are also food stalls. The closer stall sells sushi and Japanese curry.
My favorite Dutch pancake stall. The pancakes come with maple syrup, icing sugar and plenty of cream. They’re high calorie but have a very nice springy texture.