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Farmers Markets In India
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Among all the pollution that is apparent here in India, there is a sea of green. This green oasis has been migrating along unstable grounds, it's future uncertain. This green oasis is locally known in Mysore as the "Green Market", a farmers market comprised of 10 local farmers that gather on a bi-weekly basis to sell their organic wholesome produce and handmade goods to people in the area that are conscious about the food they eat and what they buy. It's so refreshing to find a movement such as this in a land that radiates the past and rapid progression simultaneously.

Of course, organic markets are not a new invention of recent generations. People have been growing food organically and selling it in markets for thousands of years! It is only recently in this last half century that the United States collaborated with world nation organizations to create chemical ways to grow more food, faster. Soon bio-engineering became the norm as we unconsciously and blindly accepted how our food was grown and what was put into it. We buy our food without a thought as to where it came from, who grew it and how it was grown.

That is changing as people return to a more grassroots approach to purchasing food and local farmers markets emerge. As more of us wake up from our unconscious state, we begin to demand chemical, fertilizer and pesticide free food for ourselves. We are realizing that we want food full of life and energy that is alive rather than food that has been manipulated with chemicals and fertilizers under some scientific mastermind regime. People are becoming aware of spiritual nutrition and that eating consciously grown food enhances ones spiritual growth.

The Green Market is set in the absolutely beautiful grounds of The Green Hotel, surrounded by intricately manicured lawns and gardens, large green leafy trees, bushes and exotic flower beds. The Green Hotel used to be known as the Chittaranjan Palace, originally built about 100 years ago for Mysore's princesses in Jayalakshmipuram, a suburb of Mysore. It is a white washed palace turned hotel, now providing upscale accommodations for the more affluent Mysore tourist. With green awnings covering the many windows, ivy growing alongside the walls, and an outdoor dinning area that is lined by red brick walkways with large white globe light fixtures, it is a setting fit for a the princesses it was intended to house and perfect for a rapidly expanding organic market.

It is an idyllic landscape to leisurely shop for locally grown and handmade products. As I continued to shop there bi-weekly, I came to know the people who sold at this market. I could feel their smiles, pride and joy as they watched me dazzle over filled baskets of color and nutrition. The farmers organized their goods as if they were presenting art. Everything was stacked in perfectly shaped pyramids. Fruits were piled high, fresh green herbs were delicately tied together in portions sized bundles and burlap sacks piled with grains lined the tables.

The sellers used brass weights in 50 gram increments on hanging scales to measure out various grains and legumes, that stretched burlap sacks to their capacity. There is a buzz of excitement and laughter in the air as things are bought and sold. Within two hours this whirlwind of energy dies down as the baskets and sacks are emptied and the pyramids fade to reveal empty tables. Everyone is satisfied, the buyers leaving with armloads of fresh food and the sellers with near empty carts. We all said our goodbyes until we would see each other again the following market gathering.

The weeks passed quickly as our cupboards bared their shelves again, begging for a fresh supply of food. We all met our friends at what was quickly becoming a large social gathering. Lines orderly formed in the early hours of the morning if you wanted to purchase that sweet almond, cucumber, orange soap. Things were selling out quickly now as people vied for this and that. The Green Market sells its goods to the public who eagerly await, patiently in a queue for their choice of produce, herbs, spices, tonics, oils, grains, handmade paper goods, naturally dyed clothing and an abundant colorful array of flowers. At first, it was a casual market, set up on the grounds of the Green Hotel. Now it has become a bustling market and one needs to arrive very early before everything is sold out. Hence, the queue.

And just at the height of the market's popularity, it seemed to vanish altogether without warning for a number of weeks. My inquires to the some locals around the area informed me that the Green Hotel staff had unionized and went on strike for the usual reasons; more money and more benefits. Now, not only was there no beloved Green Market, but there were no more fanciful stays in the princesses palace or delicious aromatic meals eaten in the illuminated gardens under the cover of the stars. The grounds had become deserted and the flora overgrew wildly during this time of vacancy in this tropical town.

It all vanished with the decision of STRIKE! But there are other places around town that sold organic produce and hosted the Green Market farmers. A woman Joanna who has lived here for ages, offered her home as a place to hold the Green Market. There is also a building by Ortario's home that would do just fine. So with the continued harvests of mangoes, okra and avocados now, we continue to follow the Green Market around town to buy organic produce where we can. More Indians are buying organic produce too, not just westerns!

The buzz around organics continues but there is no longer that romantic casual market feeling anymore. As always, things change, everything evolves. Now one must get there by 10am and pay 10 rupees for a number on token just to enter! Then at 11am the doors of the market finally open and you are called in by the number on your token to shop for rice, fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices. There are no more clothes or paper goods, tonics or oils sold. Just edibles.

After you make your selection, you hand your list to the cashier who credits you your 10 rupee entry fee and cashes you out, kindly asking you to return next week. The word is out that the market is also sometimes selling at Tina and Sanjeev's house. They are in Indian coupe who open their home up to serve westerns breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The feeling of community is lost as the Green Market makes its way around town at different locations and seems less organized, and more hectic. Will the Green Market find a permanent location in which to sell again? Demand is for it is obviously growing but will the local people step up to meet their own needs?


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