The market economy

The supermarket concept was, until very recently, a completely American phenomenon. During the suburban migration people needed groceries near their homes, and the population density wouldn’t support a marketplace of small shops. Due to the fact that the supermarket wasn’t generally in the neighborhood, people began to provision their food supplies for weeks at a time.

Food rotting slowly over weeks – yum.

We live in one of the best growing environments in the entire world for all sorts of things. Seriously. People have moved here just to cook with ingredients indigenous to the Northwest.

We also have one of the largest organic farming movements in the area. Oregon tilth standards are recognized around the world. Food Alliance certification, an alternative to organic certification, promotes safe working conditions, safe and humane treatment of animals and other positive farming practices. There are enough Food Alliance certified farms that even PSU is able to use their products.

Many people choose not to support local agriculture because they think it is too expensive or too inconvenient. People who go to Portland State have no excuses. The Portland Farmers Market is practically on campus twice a week – in the South Park Blocks between S.W. Salmon and Main every Wednesday and between S.W. Harrison and Montgomery on Saturdays though October.

The Portland Farmers Market places locally grown products from local producers and farmers. The markets go way beyond mere produce and flowers; they include bakeries, cheese-makers, chocolatiers, dairies and restaurants.

This early in the spring very few vegetables are in season, but this is the time to start getting excited. When I was cooking professionally, finding local produce was a job requirement. These days I still check websites run by Farm Service Agency and Charlie’s Produce. The Portland Farmers Market also has a website, covering the four separate markets they run.

The Market’s website has a “product availability” link which provides an idea of when to expect which produce in the market. This information, along with the produce market reports, can give you a fairly good idea of what to expect in the market on any given day.

Human society was built around the need to arrange and prepare food for the community. We all know that the move away from our social structures hasn’t been all good. Much of the alienation and ennui that seem so stylish these days can be directly tied to the ways in which we procure and consume our food. It is good for a person to meet the farmer that grows the food they eat – to realize that food isn’t something that comes individually quick frozen or cellophane wrapped on a Styrofoam tray.

The Farmers Market happens to be the best way to get high quality produce at the most reasonable prices in the entire city. Ethical shopping and high quality products make the markets worth going out of your way for.


For more information on the Portland Farmers Market visit