island east markets | your new sunday ritual
posted: November 30, 2013
Need a new Sunday ritual? What better way to spend a lazy Sunday than surrounded by fresh local food and products with live music filling the air? Hong Kong has always offered traditional ‘wet’ markets with produce stands, but we’ve discovered something a little less ordinary.
“We used to know the people at the corner store, say hi and ask about their kids,” said Janice Leung, a Hong Kong based food blogger (aka e-ting) and co-founder of Island East Markets, a fantastic weekly organic farmers market in Tai Koo. “But there’s none of that anymore and we want to bring that back.”
The longing for that sense of community is what drove Janice and her business partner, Vincent Poon, to create Island East Markets. They not only wanted to bring that special relationship back with the owners of your local corner store, but with farmers, designers, and anyone who’s selling you anything. At this market, you get to meet the local farmers and their families, while sampling produce that is freshly harvested from their farms.
The organizers’ plan is to wean the population from its over dependence on imported food and educate them on what’s available locally. Janice said one of the causes of our throwaway culture is that we’re so far away from the source of what we’re consuming, physically and mentally, that we no longer care or have any connection to the product.
“If your mom knitted you a jumper, you wouldn’t throw it away as easily as you would your fast fashion t-shirt, because there’s a sentimental attachment,” said Janice. That’s the same feeling Janice hopes people will develop about the food they are eating and products they are purchasing.
The market is more than simply a place for people to buy and sell goods. It was set up as a platform for communication and the exchange of knowledge. One of the goals of the market is to promote local farming, and to increase awareness of the farmers that work in Hong Kong who are growing produce in a sustainable manner.
“It is a place for people to become closer to the products that they buy and to learn more about the source, therefore gaining greater respect for them,” said Janice.
Every Sunday at the market there are over 50 vendors which change week on week. All kinds of local and sustainable products have been brought into the marketplace. There are at least 20 vendors selling fresh, organically grown produce. All the farmers’ produce is local – grown and harvested within Hong Kong’s borders. There are also local designers and craftspeople selling beautifully hand crafted treasures. There are also musicians performing as well as live cooking demos and workshops for all ages.
The organizers give priority on their vendor list to those who have never participated in a market before. “Hong Kong is packed with shopping malls that had exorbitant rents. We want to give entrepreneurs who are just starting out the chance to test the waters too,” said Janice. “We’re showing that there is a different, and dare I say batter, way of life outside glossy, air conditioned malls.”
Keep an eye out for some awesome vendors. If you’re crazing something sweet visit Lola’s Ice Pops. For some fresh-baked goodness don’t miss out on Levain. Some other must try’s are Sour Times Dairy‘s fresh and creamy homemade yogourts , Grassroots Pantry for their organic foods and workshops. Don’t forget to stop by Reed’s Ginger Brews, which makes sodas out of natural ingredients.
Want to check out some more awesome markets in Hong Kong? Janice’s favourites are The Graham Street Market, Hong Kong’s oldest street market. It will be torn down soon for urban redevelopment, so see it while you can. Also delightful is Shau Kei Wan and Wanchai markets. All these are ‘wet’ markets, fresh food markets with produce mainly coming in from Mainland China, and is where most locals shop.
All images courtesy of Island East Markets