I don't have a nearby farmer's market...that I know of. Over the last year I have been transitioning more and more to home-cooked meals instead of enjoying ready-made or eating-out options. Admittedly, in a country with very few vegetarian options, this isn't as hard as it would be in America. Furthermore, because I have been living in Japan and cooking a majority of my own meals this transition wasn't a great change, it simply signaled being more aware of what was already going on.
At my last workplace, actually the twice a week "on paper school" I found a tiny store, open 3 times a week, that sold seasonal produce from nearby (within a short drive) mini-farms and gardens. That place had THE tastiest eggs ever. Little egg packs with hand written dates on them. Tastiest! Period. The most amazing sulfur color! Perhaps the eggs Dean Mommy and I ate in Cambodia were similarly wonderful, but I cannot describe the eggyness of these eggs, and they were something the few other customers also remarked on.
This tiny store became part of my routine on my way home from school.
Sadly, it is only open during the week and no longer on the way home.
When I started working at city hall I asked the Milkman's Sister if she knew of any place like this, and she didn't.
I kept my eyes open and found a place where I change trains, Shin-Matsudo, that sells local produce and eggs and that, and my cloth grocery bags, are part of my trip home every day.
The Shin-Matsudo stand occasionally has hard to find produce. Cilantro, nearly impossible to find in a grocery store here, is a regular item at the stand. My guess is that the small farms can easily produce enough for stands and the small amount of demand, but perhaps it is not cost effective to make it in the large amounts needed for distribution through Japan because the general demand is low.
Shin-Matsudo sporadically has small baggies of blueberries for about 200yen. Yay!Berries are prohibitively expensive here and I'd grown sad about paying 500 yen and up for a tiny hit of store blueberries a long time ago...
Shin-Matsudo has eggs, but they are not as local as I'd like.
At lunchtime I quickly eat my packed lunch and then set out to escape city hall. I walk around the empty streets, sometimes to the convini, other times to the post office to mail something or the Ito Yokado to buy something practical. A few weeks ago I hit tiny-store paydirt.
Two stores with locally grown produce!
One is a tiny open storefront with pictures of the people who grow the handful of items offered that also offers a few organic canned and frozen products. There is nothing glamourous or "cashing in on the eco trends" about it. It is barebones and must somehow survive on neighborhood word of mouth. The location probably has very cheap rents, because there is NOTHING here (except the large Ito Yokado on the other side of the tracks). The other store is a NGO run store run out of what was probably a mini-community center or something, that carries local produce and a strange collection of used rummage-sale worthy items. Profits go to a system for assisted-housing for handicapped (physically, and perhaps mentally...my reading skills and lack of knowledge as to what is Japanese PC code for developmentally disabled leaves me not knowing) .
The selection here is limited. The condition of the produce leads me to believe that it all comes from one-to-three gardens, perhaps tended by the assistants and the handicapped occupants themselves. Curly cucumbers, tons of eggplants, leeks, butternut squash, something zuchinni-like but Japanese and eggs! Not as eggy as the form of eggs, but pretty close. This store also has green grapes, which I rarely see in stores (Japan seems to prefer red, blue, and purple varieties)...
I haven't eaten the grapes yet, but I will when I get home.
Really, in this slow month, I cannot tell you what joy I get taking my sun umbrella out, looking and buying fresh and still dirty produce. I revel in my simple fantasies about tonight's simple dinner and tomorrow's lunch. (I'm thinking fresh squash soup, and making a good babaganoush for sandwiches!)