Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Notes from the Market

The main problem with your weekly Wholesale Market trips: overcoming greed.

Like anyone growing up in an urban, western/ized envionement, you used to get fruit and veg from the supermarket, or the market, or the corner shop. You bought things according to what was necessary (for a dish you wanted to make); according to how much things cost, and how much money you had. According to what was in season. Sometimes you would see something exciting and splurge. But most often you would go with a list, on a note or in your head.

The Wholesale Market is different: you get what you find, in the skips, in crates next to the skips, in bins, on the floor. Since it's never possible to tell what you will find, planning is useless. Sometimes you think of yourself as a postmodern hunter-gatherer; yes, skipping is something between hunting and gathering, since it's not just about collecting food, but also about avoiding the security, knowing where to look and when.

Usually you find too much. Crates of pears, mountains of parsley, boxes of pink grapefruit. They can be expensive or cheap items, it doesn't matter, because they are all thrown away. You get excited: you want to take as much as you can. You want more. You were taught never to waste food; you were brought up to consume carefuly, because money doesn't grow on trees. But here you are overwhelmed with abundance, which will soon be sucked by the rubbish truck and gone forever. So take it, quick, now. The greed-god is hungry, and it's all for free.

Taking too much is unwise. Lingering in the Market is risky; the security may find you and take everything that you had found. Overloading your bike is dangerous. And what are you going to do with all these fruit and veg? you promise to yourself to preserve them as pickle, jam and conserves, but know you don't have time, most likely they will simply rot.

The Market - and skipping in general - is a challenge in greed, an excercise. Can you forget the world of money and exchange, and take stuff according to what you really need and want?

* * *

In season today: yellow peppers, tomatoes, artichokes, plastic packed baby spinach leaves, basil, parsley, mango, raspberries, pears, watermelons.
Countries of origin: Brazil, Spain, England
I didn't take the watermelons, although I really like them. It seems WRONG to eat watermelon in England, in Novmeber. The whole point about watermelons are that they are cooling and refreshing. No need for coolness here at the moment.

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