Food and Farmers’ Markets

My local markets
Fresh from the farm
Organic fresh pasta
Organic macadamias

I overheard a conversation one day at a friend’s house. One of my friends was stating their opinion on farmer’s markets and what a crock they all are. Another friend agreed and stated that you would have to be a nincompoop to believe that they were otherwise.  Well I believe myself to be of sound mind, discerning and educated, so I was a little offended, as I believe that farmer’s markets are more than a ‘feel good’ way to shop.
When the Lane Cove Food and Farmers’ Market popped up in my local area, I was determined to go along and check it out at close range.
These markets are held in Lane Cove Public School where my husband went to school and perhaps where my son will go. So a few weeks ago on a windy and cold day we went along.
The first thing I noted, was that these markets are quite small, but I liked that they were at the school because my kids were not going to love food shopping. Instead they played on the play equipment while I went to investigate the vendors!
The results of my investigation and I have to say it was cursory to a degree, as I did not talk to every single vendor – was that in most cases, the sellers were not the actual farmers, though they weren’t too far removed from the food chain, so to speak and excuse the pun.
1.       The strawberries I bought came from the actual farming family. I asked if they were grown organically and they honestly said ‘no’. But the farm is at Badgerys Creek, about an hour from the school – so not a very large carbon footprint related to its transport.
2.       I bought Organic Macadamia Nuts from the nephew of the farmer who is studying in Sydney and sells on behalf of his uncle. They are grown in a small town in NSW. Apparently his uncle delivers to Sydney every 2 weeks and the nephew does the markets rounds on the weekends. I’ve also been enjoying these macadamia nuts on some yoghurt added to my fruit salad which has included my market bought strawberries!
3.       I bought organic fresh pasta (Emilia Pasta http://www.emilia.com.au/  which was So delicious I might add – soft, light and filling) from the sales rep I would say of a small boutique company. When I spoke to him he was very interested in sustainability and says that as much as they can they are trying to  source locally, but the pasta requires a specific type of flour not found in Australia, so that part comes from Italy and some of the truffle oil that they use in the rest of their sauces.
4.       I bought Soy and Quinoa bread which I later found out is sold at Thomas Dux and probably other retailers, so I can’t say that was super local, though the seller told me she picked them up from the baker that morning  – therefore trying to set my mind at ease. The bread was lovely though.
5.       I also bought some avocadoes which were perfect.  I don’t know if the seller was the farmer or not because by then the kids were getting restless and I had to leave.
Having looked through the markets though, I found it to be a mix of farmers/growers, small businesses, or sellers that have directly sourced from the farm. I did also however (and I have to say I was a little disappointed) find local businesses that had taken up a stall and were selling.
I agree with my friends that there is a ‘feel good’ factor from going to growers and farmers’ markets. In a world where everything is so clinical and people only shop in mega supermarkets, having the opportunity to go and talk, feel, taste and prod makes going to these markets a unique experience. It creates a sense of community which is so important nowadays.  Also, most of the sellers are small businesses, meaning it’s great to go along and support them. Price wise, I didn’t find the produce so hideously priced, but it’s important to talk to the sellers to make sure you’re not paying more for something that is sold in the local shop cheaper.
Therefore I am not so cynical – I enjoyed my day at the markets and will probably return, but I will probably buy mostly select items (I am keen to try the apples – that seller definitely seemed like he was the farmer!), rather than do all my food shopping there.
I’m keen to try a few more markets (organic food markets) in my local area, which I will also post about. I’d love to hear other stories from people that shop at Food and Farmers’ Markets or even better, from people that may sell at them.

Back to where it all started!

Alhambra Fort, Granada Spain
So this picture doesn’t have anything to do with my yoga classes, but it’s a nice picture I thought I’d share!

I am very excited and had to share – I went back to Acharyas Yoga Centre at Pitt Street Sydney today at lunch time (it felt so great to go back).

What I love about Acharyas is  that it is Hatha yoga and you start each class lying on the ground enveloped by a blanket (so nice in winter) as you listen to soothing music and smell the incense wafting through the air.  This helps in relaxation immediately. You follow this by pranayama which is so important – simply breathing – deeply!

You then start your ‘limbering up’ exercises followed by the asanas. I like the fact that you stay a while in the poses, so that you get get your alignment correct and trust me it is harder to hold a pose, than to jump to the next one.  You end again with relaxation. I have been dreaming about the relaxation part for months now. My life is so hectic and while I may not have really appreciated the meditation previously, I now long for it.

Acharya died in 2007, but the new instructors keep the spirit alive (and the prices – my lunchtime class today cost $12. I think that has to be the cheapest class I have found!), however Acharya’s sense of humour was missed today.

I think everyone needs some time to themselves – to get some balanace. I am so grateful that I work close to Acharyas, so I can take advantage of this on the days that I work.  To all the eco-mummys and eco-daddys out there – you may have different ways of finding your inner peace that you may want to share. If you live in Sydney, perhaps Acharyas can help you as much as it has helped me.

Hot Yoga!

As you may have seen from one of my earlier posts, I made a list – my ‘get your life together’ list. On the list was to start going to yoga.  I have  mostly done Hatha yoga which started many years ago at Acharyas Yoga Centre (http://acharyasyoga.com.au/) in Sydney. Acharya was a super flexible man and a bit of an entertainer during the yoga classes. I enjoyed his classes, but had to stop because of a cyst in my spleen. I returned, but then moved….anyway I didn’t consistently go back to him. I was very shocked to learn that he died in 2007.

I’ve tried all sort of yoga: ashtanga (too fast), ayengar (I liked the emphasis on proper alignment in asanas), vinyasa (a little too fast) and recently Bikram yoga (hot yoga). I thought I had done hot yoga, because I lived in Abu Dhabi and I did yoga at the Yoga Tree (http://bodytreestudio.com/) and well if you have ever lived there you would know that it is VERY hot!  When I did classes there and it was not the height of summer, we would leave windows open and not turn on the air conditioner.  So I was quite curious about Bikram yoga, because I thought ‘hey, I’ve kinda done it – it should be fine’, or so I thought. Having windows open and some air movement in a room about 30 + degrees celsius is very different to being in a room 40 + degrees celsius with a humidity of about 40%.

The idea of Bikram is to be in a hot room undertaking 26 postures for 90 minutes. May seem relatively straightforward, but being in that hot a room can be very challenging and intense. Another idea of Bikram is to be in the moment – well most likely people are in the moment because they are focussing on not passing out! I was given a 30 day pass and decided to use it to it max, but with my kids and work, I’ve managed to go about 2 times a week.  So what are my likes about Bikram yoga?

  • It’s a workout! just standing there makes your heart pump;
  • Having the pass meant I was making an effort to get out and use it – so I was at least starting the exercise process and to get myself into a routine about that;
  • I sweated a lot, which I think is good to get out toxins, or so they say….

 

The things I don’t like:

  • The heat – it is too intense – too much. A little heat to help you get a deeper stretch is good, but feeling dizzy and faint at times I don’t think are good feelings to have in a yoga class;
  • The fact that the teachers don’t actually do any of the yoga moves – they stand in the front of the room with a mike on and just describe it. My teacher today was hilarious and I don’t think she means to be – but I think she  might be a telephone sex person in her free time – she does the ‘yes! yes! yes! Meg Ryan from ‘When Harry Met Sally’ style when she’s trying to encourage us to get into a deeper stretch!
  •  While some might like Bikram yoga because of the sense of achievement once you finish a class, but again, I personally don’t want to be thinking ‘when is this going to be over’ in a class and thinking ‘yay that goodness I did it!’
  • Some trivial things like the smell, seeing half naked people and the fact that they encourage competition yoga – like they actually think competing in yoga posture events is good. I don’t necessarily think that is in keeping with the ideals of yoga.

Different people want different things from yoga.  So what do I want to gain from yoga? wellbeing, a sense of calmness and peace and health. Though I am not discounting Bikram yoga altogether, at the moment, I don’t think it is for me. In fact, I plan on going back to where it all began – Acharyas. It will be interesting to see how it is without Acharya!