I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled quite extensively through Asia. I’ve seen many great cities, historic temples, jaw dropping architecture and beautiful landscapes. I met a lot of amazing people, had a lot of great experiences. But when I look back on those travels, there is one thing that really sticks out, one constant that seemed to follow me wherever I went.
How I looooooved the markets of Asia.
It was and still remains the thing I most adored about the places I visited. You see, for someone like myself who grew up going to supermarkets, the markets of Asia provide quite a shocking contrast. Let’s just say that in the markets of Asia there is no fluorescent lighting, minimum wage produce workers that don’t smile (who can blame them), disgruntled high school cashiers that don’t smile, and that sickening, life-deadening elevator music playing in the background. And of course, there is no processed food.
Most Asian markets are vibrant beyond explanation. The vivid colors, the succulent smells of herbs and spices, curries and simmering soups, the freshly caught fish leaping out of their buckets and crates, the bizarre and exotic fruits and vegetables, the busy flow of people and animals, carts and mopeds, all intersecting in these somewhat random but patterned processions, all of which sweeps you into this almost trance-like state of sensory stimulation.
Below are just a few pics I took while perusing the markets of Burma.
I’ve uploaded a few more onto my Facebook page. You can check them out here : http://on.fb.me/qwreyM And please give my page a “like” while you’re at it!
My point of this is that in most places in Asia, this is how people get their food. No one’s selling Cheetos. It’s all fresh and it’s all local.
You may have had similar experiences in other areas of the world – Europe, South America, Africa, etc. This is how people do it and have done it for hundreds if not thousands of years.
And this is what we need to return to in America.
Now I know that’s quite unrealistic right now. I know we’ve created an industrialized system that’s woven into the fabric of our culture. It’s not going away anytime soon. There are certainly other forces that have created this system. But make no mistake about it – it’s killing us.
Most of the food you get in conventional supermarkets is killing us. It’s full of sugar, preservatives, chemicals and toxic oils. The animal products are factory farmed, full of hormones and chemicals. The fruits and vegetables are grown in deficient soils and sprayed with pesticides and insecticides. And more and more it is becoming genetically modified.
We can no longer ignore our escalating health epidemics and their connection to industrialized food. This awareness is growing and it’s growing fast. And as a result, farmers markets are growing. And that is the third and final secret weapon, my ultimate secret weapon.
Secret weapon #3: Your Local Farmers Market
Now most farmers markets are relatively small right now. Most take place only once a week. And most pale in comparison to anything you’ll find in the cities of Asia.
But what resonates with people is when they compare their experience at a farmers market to a supermarket.
There’s something that appeals to not only the senses at your local farmers market but also to the heart. There’s something that just feels right. Something that intuitively says, “This is the way I should get my food”. There’s sunshine. There’s smiling faces. There’s conversation. Maybe there’s even music – real music with real people playing real instruments.
Of course, it’s more than just the aesthetics. Farmers markets are less taxing to the environment than supermarkets. The average food item in a supermarket travels 1500 miles from farm to fork. Farmers markets support local families, they support our local economies and they are an investment in our future by helping to maintain the integrity of our local food systems. And of course the biggest reason of all is that the food at farmers markets support good health!!
And little by little as these markets make their way across the American landscape, as they grow, as they become more accessible and maybe even more convenient, maybe someday our farmers markets will become so crowded and vibrant that they’ll look like this:
Pretty amazing, huh?
Of course I am kidding. But you get the idea.
If you’re in western Massachusetts, check out the Tuesday Market in Northampton. It’s my personal favorite. But wherever you are, make the effort to get out there and support your local farmers markets. It’s important! Check out www.localharvest.org for a list of all the markets in your area.
Lastly, don’t forget: Food, Inc. is on PBS tonight! If you missed last week’s blog, Food Inc. is my second nutritional weapon of choice.
So there you have it. My three secret nutritional weapons revealed! To review, the first is the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. The second is Food Inc. And the third is your local farmers market. The clients of mine that follow through on these are always the ones that seem to lose the most weight and make the best progress with whatever health issue they’re dealing with. Coincidence? I don’t think so!
Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.