Monday, February 1, 2010

Vegetable Adventures at the United Nations University Farmers Market

Under the white awnings of the farmer's market at the United Nations University in Tokyo is another treasure trove of local seasonal food. Over forty stalls offered vegetables, fruits, rice, breads and pastries, flowers, and some of the prettiest rock salt I've ever seen from varied parts of Japan. Part of a burgeoning farmers market movement to connect people with their food and its producers, this market between trendy Harajuku and super-bustling Shibuya, bristled with energy and enthusiasm.

Four kinds of natto from Sendai, three types of mochi from Nagano Prefecture, and a huge variety of mushrooms including shitakes already started on a log, were but a few of the great edibles on offer. Running a close second as a personal favorite to the mochi from Nagano was the little salad garden in a bag that was so cute it was difficult to resist the urge to add it to my own garden already underway. Add to this woven straw baskets and bags, and metalware made from recycled materials, along with hot coffees, tasty lunches, and a bevy of other treats for a perfect weekend trip.

One of a number of markets that are springing up around Tokyo and all of Japan as part of a government sponsored program, Marche Japon, the UN University Market has steadily grown since its inception a little over a year ago. and is part of the UN effort to educate people about food security and healthy eating. Vendors were nearly overwhelmed with happy inquisitive customers all looking for something tasty to eat or a pretty bouquet. Another great stop on the seasonal food tour, this market will be well worth visiting again to see what's new on offer!

Planning to go?
Every Saturday and Sunday
10am - 4pm
*Be careful! Not all vendors come both days.


Kevin said...

Our village has a booth at the UNU Market. A friend of mine is in charge so goes every weekend. If you see the booth from Sakae Mura say Hi to Kanako. Tomoe will also be selling her bread jams and other goodies there soon.

Apparently, one problem the Sakae Mura booth has is that the prices are too low so no one buys. If the zucchini from Sakae is 100 yen and the next booth is selling it for 250, people tend to buy from the expensive place because they perceive higher price as better quality, when there is absolutely nothing wrong with the cheap one - our farmers just aren't used to selling to an upscale trendy market, so not so good at taking advantage of Tokyo-ites unfathomable disposable income :)

So if you are there, please buy some cheap zucchini (all the zucchini farmers here are accredited Eco-Farmers, meaning they use a lot less chemicals than conventional)

Mona Tomoe and I were just out helping some of them the other day :)

Joan Lambert Bailey said...


Just left a FB comment for you, but wanted to check in here in case you looked back. I'm not heading there today, but am planning to next weekend. Any tips you can give on finding them (photo, etc.) I'll appreciate. I can stop over and perhaps even do a feature on them. Would be glad to do so.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where to get beetroot in the Tokyo area?
Thank you!

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

Beetroot remains a rare gem in Japan, although I do occasionally find it at the UNU Farmers Market and at the Earth Day Market. I have also seen it at Yokohama's Kitanaka Marche. An organic farmer there carries it, and it is scrumptious. Some supermarkets also have it, but I've never shopped for it there. Good luck!