Oxford Farmers Market

Leela: This is what I’m talkin’ about! See all the dirt and earwigs? That’s the sign of healthy food.
Hydroponic farmer: You think that’s healthy? Try this. I found it growin’ at the bottom of my hamper.
Leela: Mmm! So fresh and musty!

Leela: You’re a lucky man. But are [these eggs] way more expensive than regular eggs?
Brown-haired Man: Way more.
Leela: Ooh! I’ll take a dozen.

This exchange is taken from Futurama, when the characters visit a farmers market. They eat tree roots which are still alive, have maple syrup squeezed directly from the tree into their mouths, and finally discuss with a man who claims to be married to a mongoose. Clearly this exchange is just a bit of fun, but we can sometimes stereotype farmers markets through these eyes, and forget to see the many benefits they bring.

Did you know that in the UK there is legislation governing the straightness of bananas, and only since recently have misshapen carrots and cucumbers been allowed to be sold? It’s easy to bang the drum about eating organic, environmentally friendly, and local produce, but if we simply buy the organic food from the local superstore, then we’ve only seen half of the point. Farmers markets, of course, used to be the only way people would buy food, with the local butchers, baker and everybody else coming out to show their wares. Now, although they are often less frequent than they used to be, the markets still allow an opportunity to support the local producers and local sustainability. And if you’re not convinced by this alone, consider that the food you will get here will likely taste a lot better than the equivalent at Tesco or Sainsbury, which, for me, is what keeps me coming back.

The Oxford Farmers Market happens in Gloucester Green, near the bus station, on the first and third Thursdays of every month, from 9am – 3pm. There’s also the Gloucester Green market, every Wednesday from 9am – 5pm, also at Gloucester Green, and organised by the city council. If you don’t live in the city centre, you’re not left out, there are a whole range of markets around Oxford. And if you’re not from Oxford, there are a lot of easily available resources to find your local farmers market.

Before I went to a farmers market, I assumed that all you could get there was fruit and veg, and perhaps some eggs. But many local producers come and bring their products: on Thursday I saw people selling meat, doughnuts, pastries, goat’s cheese, Brazilian waffles, preserves, and varietal apple juices, among many more. It’s not just food people are coming to sell either, with half of the market dedicated to things like second-hand books, cds and dvds, and antiques of sorts. Fun to look around, and you almost could do your weekly shop here.

The price isn’t what you might think it is as well. I’ve been to some food markets with silly prices: £12 for a bottle of locally produced wine, which tasted horrible, for example. But a look at the picture below will reassure you. Three packs of sausages for £6, or a huge chicken pie for £4 make very attractive buys, especially when you consider the quality of the product, compared to what you might get at a local superstore. The rest of the stalls were similarly good value, particularly with the fruit and vegetables, and my ability to carry things home ended up being the limiting factor.

So, get out there and support local producers at the market. With great food, great prices, and better attitude towards sustainable food, it’s hard to see why not to go.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Oxford Foodie Festival « oxfood

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