Friday, May 23, 2008

Saint John City Market

When I visited the Maritimes for the first time a few years ago, one of the highlights of the trip was the Saint John City Market. Thinking back I’m pretty sure all great memories of that trip have to do with food but that’s beside the point. I’m a foodie. And a foodie loves a market. Especially one where merchants can offer quality products, specialize in a certain area, and survive. I find the supermarket trend unappetizing. It’s almost always inferior quality and there’s no pride in it. There’s no craftsmanship. There’s no one to tell you what to do with such and such a cut of meat because they’re somewhere in the back, laboriously carving away at carcass after carcass after carcass. The market is made for humans. It’s like a year round farmer’s market which is pretty much the next best thing in smaller communities such as the ones I’ve always lived in.

In the Saint John City Market you’ve got deli-men, bakers, produce importers, fruiterers, exotic food merchants, fishmongers, prepared food stands and a small assortment of arts and crafts. The focus is food. Quality food. There is pride in providing quality here unlike in the supermarkets. Here up north if you go to a supermarket you’re almost guaranteed that only 1 in 5 mangos will be edible. They don’t care what they put out there. People buy it anyways. It’s sad but that’s all we’ve got. Unless you’ve got a century old market like in Saint John.

I think that the idea of a year round market could feasibly be pushed a bit further. I mean, it could be just like a grocery store where you go around with a cart or basket and pay at one place. It could be a cooperative which allows for the tradesmen of food to survive independently. This is possible even in communities of 10,000 in population. If there’s a grocery store I say that there’s no reason why there can’t be a market. Or even a cooperative market. People can have quality baked goods, quality produce, quality seafood, quality canned goods, quality organic products and sustain their neighbours. Because like it or not, butchers and bakers have a hard time surviving solo in smaller communities nowadays. So change is necessary. But submission is not necessary. Independency is still an option.

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