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Good News at the Asian Market

July 14, 2016

I’ve got produce on the mind. Last night was the Official Yelp Event at Dali Mamma that focused on seasonal, regional produce. I met Capers from Denison Farm and Dietrich from Indian Ladder Farm. Also on the Yelp front, I’m helping to promote the FarmOn! Foundation’s annual Hootenanny on July 30, which is all about local farms.

Plus it’s summer, so we’re in the throws throes of the Roxbury CSA season. My fridge is full. I’m going through olive oil at a shocking clip. And I’m eating salads.

What’s for dinner tonight? I’ll probably have a salad. Friday’s are still roast chicken nights, but there will absolutely be salad on the side. And Saturday, we’ll pack up all the produce we haven’t eaten and bring it with us into the Adirondacks.

Even though I’m not in the market for more produce right now, there was a recent investigative report on the sometimes shockingly inexpensive fruits and vegetables sold at Asian markets.

Did you see it?

The original piece was published in the Wall Street Journal, but it was summarized by the good people at Saveur. And just because last night was a crazy late night, I’m going to summarize the summary, because it’s exciting news on a subject I’ve always been curious about.

I love shopping at the Asian markets. Tofu is about half the price there as it is anywhere else, and it’s made in California from non GMO soybeans.

That caveat, about the food’s origin and the nature of its ingredients is important. Because while the selection of Asian condiments, sauces, and other hard-to-find ingredients are amazing at these ethnic markets, I’m always hesitant about buying food produced in mainland China.

Maybe it’s irrational, maybe it’s not, but from the news stories that make it over here about food production there, it seems the nation is lacking a solid regulatory framework. Which isn’t to say we don’t have problems domestically either.

But I’m also cautious about American products. Frozen tubes of inexpensive hamburger meat give me the heebie-jeebies.

So I look at the inexpensive produce at the Asian market, and I wonder why it is so cheap. And apparently I’m not the only one who questioned its source and quality. Which is why the Wall Street Journal researched the topic for over a decade.

It turns out I had nothing to worry about. Here’s a blurb from the Saveur article about the Wall Street Journal story,

Wholesalers in Chinatown source these interesting items from family farms growing Asian vegetables in Florida or Honduras. [The reporter] mentions that she has visited more than 75 of these farms and saw very little exploitation; in fact, they were happy to be working for Chinatown wholesalers “because they could cultivate an array of crops, leading to economic and agronomic stability.”

Asian market vegetables aren’t going to replace the role the CSA plays in our lives, or our regular visits to the farmers market for local seasonal produce. However, it’s great to know that this is a good alternative for supplementing our weekly hauls.

And with this green light from the Wall Street Journal report, I’m looking forward to exploring a much wider range of products. Maybe I’ll even find something the kids love.

Do you have any favorites? I’m guessing Little Miss Fussy will be delighted by sliced lotus root. But I’ll keep you posted.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2016 10:27 am

    The packaged tofu at the Asian markets may be labelled that they are MADE with GMO soybeans – I don’t know about the loose stuff in the buckets. Also alot of that produce is from Canada (at least that’s what the cartons say). The Asian markets certainly are less expensive than the chain supermarkets with a terrific variety. I love the little Asian eggplants!!!

  2. mrrafe permalink
    July 14, 2016 11:02 am

    Throes not throws, unless it’s a food fight.

    • July 14, 2016 10:51 pm

      Thank you. I fixed it above. This morning I gave my editor the day off.

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