Two ladies and a market
Shir Halpern and Michal Ansky – chefs and food journalists –
are the young women behind the Tel Aviv Earth Market. Drawn together through a shared passion for culinary history, they began working together to create Israel’s first farmers’ market in 2007. This is their story….
"No one else had tried to create a farmers’ market in contemporary times in Israel and we were convinced that it was the perfect moment for this type of project. Environmental issues and quality food were becoming more and more important to consumers, and we felt that Slow Food’s principles of good, clean and fair food could help us set up a market that would meet these new demands.
We started to pursue our dream by traveling to rural areas outside the city to discover small farmers and processors who were continuing to produce quality, traditional foods. We also started investigating how we could gain access to a prominent public position and joined forces with Slow Food Tel Aviv. We were ready to launch the Tel Aviv Farmers Market in May 2008 to coincide with the havuot festival - an ancient celebration connected to the grain harvest. It was then an honor and the next natural step for us to join the Earth Market network in January 2009.
To be honest, as young women working in the food industry, we had very personal motivations for getting involved in this project. We had literally had enough of pale, tasteless vegetables. We were tired of compromising our standards and accepting mediocre produce, knowing that Israel’s top quality products were being exported to Europe. We wanted to stop dreaming about the farmers markets we had visited in France, Italy and the USA, and to create an alternative for our city.
When you realize how much better a true free-range egg, or a fresh, ripe organic tomato tastes, compared to their industrial equivalents, it is almost impossible to return to your old ways. We wanted to establish a regular market in Tel Aviv’s centre that would allow more and more consumers to experience this moment of realization.
Today, the Tel Aviv Earth Market is already a much-loved part of the city’s weekly life. Held outdoors in the city’s new port area, it has become an essential source for many of the city’s best chefs and attracts thousands of shoppers each week. Initially held every Friday, the market is now also held on Tuesday evenings, making it more convenient for workers.
The market stalls are arranged in concentric circles around a central space which hosts a ‘featured’ producer each week. Miles away from the cold, isolated supermarket shopping experience, here people meet their friends in the sun, enjoy conversation, and most importantly, buy directly from producers of the city’s surrounding area; discovering the best fresh food products at a fair price.
Our mission was not only to change consumption habits but also to consider important cultural, environmental and social aspects. Thus, the market aims to present local, seasonal food that is connected to the surrounding landscape and ecosystem, and to create a cultural meeting point that allows a real dialog between farmers and consumers, young and old, rich and poor, Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs. It also hosts tours for children to introduce them to the idea of freshness, seasonality and biodiversity as well as special workshops on issues such as home composting.
The Tel Aviv Earth Market has become a real feast for the senses. We couldn’t be happier; it is a vision come true."
The Tel Aviv Earth Market is held every Friday from 7am until the start of Shabbat (sundown) and every Tuesday from 5pm to 11pm at the Tel Aviv Port.
Click here for more information on the market.
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