What does the last of the housewives do?

Tag: Organic

The Inner West Market Experience

I feel very left wing going to the markets. Nuts to you, big corporations, I’m cutting out the middle man! I don’t get to go very often, Orange Grove Markets are on Saturday mornings which generally coincides exactly with four or five sporting fixtures. Not this weekend, though, so once I’ve settled the tiler and his apprentice in, I’m away.

I am a bit fascinated by the stalls. I used to have a semi regular market stall myself, selling handmade jewellery, which usually did very poorly, but I had a wonderful time watching my fellow stall holders. At Orange Grove they are mostly food stalls. Lots of fruit and veg, all of which seem to be doing well. Some are organic and I’ve found the quality of their produce to be variable. There’s one stall I particularly like, run by a bunch of youngsters that look like they may share a commune, because their fruit and veg looks a lot like it hasn’t come from a factory and they have stuff you don’t see anywhere else. I got some pink baby carrots, some purple pears and some really tiny Fuji apples from them.

There are a few stalls selling dips and condiments that don’t seem to do very well. How many dips do you need in a week? Also, if I want a dip or a condiment I can make it myself, I may have mentioned that I have a Thermomix. The bread and baked good stalls do well. There are two smoked seafood operations, obviously a growing market. I never see anyone buying the tapioca desserts. The egg and bacon roll stall is ridiculously successful, with a line that snakes around the market.

The non food stalls have mixed success. I feel sorry for the silver and gemstones jewellery lady, there’s never anyone even stopping to look. She doesn’t have prices displayed, which puts me off. There’s also a lady with racks of what looks like hand made kids’ tunics, no ones stopping there either. The stall that looks like someone’s been through the dumpster at the back of a failing hardware shop attracts a steady stream of elderly men in hats, looking for the perfect pair of shop soiled secateurs. The hemp stall seems to do well. I’ve bought the hemp soap a few times, it’s very lovely but soft, it doesn’t last very long. I’m going to buy some when I have a new bathroom, whenever that may be. There was a vintage clothes stall there that I haven’t seen before. I bought a brocade jacket there because it was my colour, but a bit large around the waist. I could move the buttons, or take it in, it isn’t lined.

Muffet said “no offence, but that’s an old lady jacket”. Well then, no offence taken.

I’m actually there for the Honest to Goodness stall. I get the five grain mix for my porridge, on the advice of a friend, sultanas and currants for all the fruit loaf I’m making at the moment, and they don’t have ginger at the stall, only at their unappealing showroom. That’s a shame, I’ve got an ultra ginger loaf that I really want to make.

And this is the thing about the markets. It’s hard to do a regular shop there, you just don’t know what’s not going to be there. This is far outweighed by seeing what’s in season (silver beet and radishes at the moment), having access to extremely fresh produce, supporting small businesses and sticking it to the man. Can’t wait to go back.


Honest to Goodness

I miss going to the farmers market. I really loved the beautiful eggs you could get there, the organic carrots, the kindly raised meat. And I missed getting my pantry staples from the Honest to Goodness stall there. I haven’t been going because, I may have mentioned, I’ve been on crutches and it’s hard enough sliding through the crowds with an old lady shopping trolley in tow. Now I’m mobile again it’s soccer season, which means my Saturday mornings are now spent trying to get the kids to four different venues across the city at the same time. I have tried to find markets on at times that suit me better, but during school hours the farmers seem to be getting on with farming rather than selling stuff to me, so I’ve been going without. Today I thought I’d seek out the Honest to Goodness factory outlet and get myself stocked up on grains and dried fruits.

The address in Alexandria gave me some hope. Parts of Alexandria have become very hip, with specialty delis, annoying little coffee shops and lots of warehouse conversions. But not Maddox Street. Maddox Street is still full of giant trucks and industrial estates and fastener factories and swarthy men in hi-vis vests squatting on the kerbside smoking. A bit daunting. In one such industrial estate is a little corner full of jute bags and hipsters and I’ve found it. And you can park there.

I’m a bit equivocal about organic food. On the one hand, I don’t mind a bit of being nice to the land. On the other, I don’t actually think conventional farmers are terribly evil and rapacious and are poisoning our food. So basically I buy organic if it tastes better. The sultanas, currants and cranberries from Honest to Goodness do taste noticeably better than the stuff in tubs from Norton Street Grocer, and they in turn are better than the wrinkled husks pressed into rectangles that the major supermarkets purvey. In other words, worth it. I’m also rather fond of their crystallised ginger, hazelnuts and coconut products. Speaking of which, coconut seems to be a thing at the moment. They had coconut oil, coconut syrup, coconut sugar, coconut soap and coconut water. But not the coconut flakes I’d been rather hoping to purchase. Desiccated will have to do.

I also wanted to get a variety of grains for either making flour in the Thermomix or for the rather complex porridge I’m planning to make in the colder months. Oatmeal porridge makes me feel like I’ve foolishly eaten a woollen rug, so I’m going to have to come up with something more exotic. To that end, I got some hulled buckwheat, rolled spelt and whole wheat grains. I reckon if I team that lot with some green apple and hazelnuts and some other bits and pieces I may be onto something. I’ll keep you posted.

Of course I also love looking at the wackier stuff too. Activated brown rice protein powder. Super jam, which looks down its super nose at ordinary jam. I think it has goji berries in it, or whatever the hell is the current ridiculously overhyped fruit of the moment. Acai berries? I can’t keep up. Dried bananas. Why? I’ve had the preservative free dried apricots and they taste as disgusting as they look. And what is it about the organic set that means tiny hats for the men and no personal grooming for the women? Not that I can talk, but I occasionally put on lipstick and wear non-ironic dresses. Also, what would you do with a kilo pack of agar powder?

I’m still a bit conflicted about the flour. I do buy flour in five kilo packs, so that’s not the issue. It was one and a half times as expensive as my normal flour. Would it have been one and a half times as good? There would have been one and a half times as much self satisfied smirk in my baked goods, but would there be any more tangible benefits? I don’t kid myself that white flour is terribly nutritious, but would it have produced a springer bread, a crunchier Anzac biscuit, a more delectable slice base? I don’t know, because I didn’t buy it in the end. If you’ve tried organic flour, let me know if it makes any difference at all. Maybe I should have asked to buy a half kilo sample. Maybe next time. If I bring someone with me who does that kind of thing.