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Slow Foods, Fast Market
Slow Foods, Fast Market Melanie Weiss
The Tel Aviv Farmer’s Market is a place to embrace the idea that “food is a pleasure that should not be rushed and a resource that is degraded by over-processing” – Melanie Weiss takes you into the market to explore the gathering of farmers and food producers that gather each Friday afternoon at the Port.
The Tel Aviv farmers market, located in the Namal, or port, is relatively small when compared with similar markets in such “foodie” meccas as New York and San Francisco. But whatever the Tel Aviv market lacks in size, it more than makes up for in energy. Vendors push samples—grapes, olives, slices of tomato, nibbles of cheese—on the eclectic crowd, and shoppers, happy to brave the sweltering summer temperatures for this tasty and natural profusion of food, respond enthusiastically. Here, one can find not only vegetables and fruits, but also an assortment of locally produced items including cheeses, breads, olive oils and honey.

Not every farmer and producer here necessarily identifies their farm as organic, but all are happy to discuss their growing practices, explaining that even though it is far more difficult to grow, say, olives without any chemicals, it yields a finer product you can count on to be healthy. And delicious, too—this reviewer heartily recommends the delicate flavors of honey hawked by Dvash Yanay (www.dvashyanay.co.il). Producing honey since 1977, Yanay Sachs’ beehives are completely natural and the honey meticulously cultivated. Whether you opt for the eucalyptus, the wildflower or the citrus variety, you are in for a sweet treat.

Itiel Zion, the charismatic young manager of the market, reflected on why Tel Aviv—a city with no shortage of shopping options, including the open-air Carmel Shuk—needed and loves their weekly farmers market: “It’s not only because of the freshness of the produce. There are products here that you can’t find in the supermarkets, or even in the shuk. There’s also a special atmosphere at the farmers market. Here, people can talk directly to the farmers, asking them specifically about what they’ve been growing. Maybe the farmer has just grown a new kind of eggplant for the very first time—that’s special!” He also pointed out that the market is affiliated with the Slow Foods movement, which means that even though the market is bustling with activity, it embraces the idea that food is a pleasure that should not be rushed and a resource that is degraded by over-processing.

With the seaside and Independence Park just a short stroll away, the market is a great place to pick up the necessary ingredients for an afternoon picnic. Just make sure that you pack a canvas bag along with your picnic cloth—as part of its endorsement of sustainability and waste reduction, the market does not offer plastic bags. You can buy a cloth bag at the entrance however.

At just over two years old, the Tel Aviv market is thriving—and has spawned markets in Ra’anana, Herzliya and Caesarea. You can find the market every Friday at the Tel Aviv port, and learn more at farmersmarket.co.il.

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