Most of us live a very busy lifestyle and we don’t have time to stop and appreciate the amazing people who put so much hard work into producing our food. While my local supermarket does carry locally produced items and organic fruits and vegetables as well as locally produced bread, I love nothing more than to peruse the local markets, finding local and seasonal ingredient and getting to know these amazing people. The supermarket, while convenient does nothing to create the sense of community that one finds at a local market. At farmers markets I can talk to the producers and their families. I am able to ask the farmer what s/he does with each product new to me. For example, last year, I was at my local orto (vegetable) guy’s store and he had something called cardi. I had no idea what they were, only that they looked like celery. I asked him what to do with it and he gave me countless recipes that he had learned from his grandmother. Sometimes the greens that are sold at farmers markets are not cultivated but foraged. I see older people in my town go to the fields after a good rain and collect local bitter field greens. Sometimes they sell them in their shop. Wild asparagus is also collected by foragers and sold at the market.
Farmers markets and locally owned shops are fueled by passion more than any currency. These producers put their heart and soul into what they produce, they have small farms that promote biodiversity over monoculture in farming and it is all local and in season. Why should I eat an apple from Chile out of season when I can have something local, like a blood orange that was picked that morning?
I love leading market walks in Rome and in the countryside, to show visitors to Italy the vast diversity of food that we have and that I now use in my own kitchen. Sharing recipes is also fun! Sometime the produce isn’t as “pretty” as what you find in a supermarket, but you know where it came from and you meet the people who produced it and learn new ways to use it yourself.
Here is a list of local organic markets in and around Rome:
Il Mercantino del Biologico e Del Artigianato del Municipo IV
1st Saturday of the moth at Via Cecco Angiolieri and 3rd Saturday of the month at Piazza Sempione
Mercantino Biologico Ostia
2nd and 4th Saturday of the month at Piazza Tor S. Michele
Mercantino Biologico “Città dell’Altra Economia”
Every Sunday from 10am to 10pm in Largo Dino Frisullo
Mercantino Agricolo di Stagione in Stagione
2nd Saturday of the month at La Casa delle Donna-Via della Lungara 19
Mercato del Circo Massimo
Every Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 6pm at Via San Teodoro
Italy Hotline offers wonderful food, market and wine tours with Sarah in the area outside of Rome including the Castelli Romani. Sarah is sommelier, historian and food expert.