Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine: Downtown Phoenix Public Market...or is it?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Downtown Phoenix Public Market...or is it?

Maybe I'm jaded having lived in Philadelphia for over 30 years where there are two markets: the Philadelphia 9th St. Italian Market and the Reading Terminal Market. I've also had the opportunity to visit markets in other big cities like Pike's Place Market in Seattle. These are what I think of when you say "Farmer's Market." They are full of vendors selling fresh produce, meats, cheeses and even seafood. In my opinion the Downtown Phoenix Public Market doesn't even come close to offering the things you'd expect to find at a farmer's market. On the Saturday that I visited the Phoenix market it looked to me like there were about 40 or so vendors with only a handful that sold fresh produce. The vendors that did have vegetables had a very limited selection. Mostly peppers, okra and some tomatoes. There was only one vendor that had a few other items like lettuce, carrots, and some fruits. Forget the meats, and cheeses no-one was selling them. I understand that it's an outdoor market and that it can be over 100 on any given day but that's not an excuse for the lack of produce. As for seafood there was a vendor selling cans of tuna. Although it might be delicious it's not what I would expect at a farmer's market. To the market's credit there was a nice selection of fresh breads, pastas and dates. I did see some homemade pita chips and BBQ sauce. The rest of the market was pretty much taken up with vendors selling plants and crafts. Maybe it's not the season or maybe I'm expecting to much but the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables at what is suppose to be a farmer's market was very discouraging to me. Will I go again...probably at some point to see if things are any different but I won't be rushing back any time soon.

4 comments:

  1. I share your frustration with this market. I understand the paucity of fresh produce, particularly in the summer months, but what really bothers me is the abundance of arts and craft vendors selling things that have nothing at all to do with food. I think this market draws its support from people who desperately want to believe that Phoenicians can find most of their food from local producers year round. That's a noble sentiment, but is it a realistic expectation in a desert region? In fact, my frustration with the Downtown Public Market is a big cause of my skepticism toward the whole "locavore" movement.

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  2. Hi! I've been lurking on your blog for a while now, and I have to agree. I lived in Minnesota for the first 27 years of my life, and farmers markets there always meant TONS of vegetable and fruit. The closest I've come to that in Arizona was Young's Farm near Prescott, but now that they're gone, I've had a hard time replicating that experience. I agree with silverbear - this is the desert and we make concessions. However, I do long for the days when I could go to the end of the road and buy corn, potatoes, onions, peaches, apples, and carrots whenever I want.

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  3. It's true - Arizona will never have the year round variety of other farmer's markets. However - very soon, some of the better farmer's markets will be opening for the season. Check out this website for more info:

    http://www.arizonafarmersmarkets.com/index.htm

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  4. I'm a Philly native living in Northern Virginia near Washington DC. We have excellent farmers markets here and I'm enjoying them lot. Perhaps the growing seasons are different in Phoenix. Here we have delicious corn, peaches and nectarines in season. I love how the changing seasons here gives us a variety of produce. My blog focuses on farmers markets and non chain stores/restaurants too. Good luck with your food finds!
    www.piealamona.blogspot.com

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