Today is Sunday, which means Farmers Market day in Irvine, at the Orange County Great Park. This gave me the idea to tell you a bit about Hungarian Farmers Markets.
There are a lot of differences between markets in Hungary and the US. When we visit the one in Irvine or in nearby towns, they give me the feeling more of a festival than a market. Only part of the market stands offer fruits and vegetables, and the other ones are homemade food products (honey, roasted nuts, bread and pastry, etc.), crafts and live plants. Food trucks and live music are also not unusual at these markets. Going to the market here is kind of like a fun family outing.
Farmers Market at the OC Great Park, Irvine, CA
The markets in Hungary are quite different. Most of the sellers offer produce, and a really wide variety of them. Their quality and price greatly differs from stand to stand. When we shop at the market with my parents in summer time, it is never a quick trip. It involves a walk through the market a few times, comparing prices and quality. Finally, we need to find our way back to the chosen stands – which seems almost impossible for me, but my mother is an expert at it. In the US markets, at least at the ones near us, almost everyone sells similar produce and for nearly the same price. Not much comparison needed before you buy your desired items.
Most markets in Hungary are located outdoors, but there are some indoor markets as well. One of the largest ones in Budapest is in a huge, historic building. The Great Market (Nagyvásárcsarnok) is visited by lots of tourists in addition to the locals, therefore here one can purchase specialty Hungarian folk items and foods as well.
Smaller, outdoor markets also offer interesting items other than produce. For example, you can buy these Hungarian outdoor cooking kettles (bogrács), or even small live animals.
People sell a wide variety of items from homemade sausages to pumpkin seeds and paprika. I am not absolutely sure what the yellow bag holds in this picture. 🙂
For my mom’s generation going to the market once or twice a week is an absolute must. They rarely buy produce at the supermarkets. But, as I look around the market, I start wondering about an important question: why doesn’t my generation or the next one shop at farmers markets? And what is going to happen to these markets and the small farms in about a decade or two? Will there be a change, and will younger people turn back to buying fresh vegetables and fruits from the growers? I really hope that markets will once again be “hip”, and younger generations will discover their value. Something that might have influenced this trend: my parents’ generation still does canning for the winter months, but I cannot say the same about younger generations. A few people might do it, but most do not. I also do less than I used a few years ago.
Finally, a few more images from a smaller city’s farmers market:
Do you shop at farmers markets? How often? Why are you choosing farmers market produce over supermarket produce? Have you visited markets in other countries? What were your impressions of them?