The Local Pazar
Kas Local market. What abundance and what fun! Local produce and the bustle of people both shopping and enjoying the chance meetings that the pazar provides. I bumped into some very dear, old friends, memories sweet and bitter mingled with the smells of olives, cheese and honey. Spices displayed open air and the tang of fruits and vegetables freshly picked or uprooted and put out on display half shaded from the sun. If you haven't been to a local market in Turkey you should. I find myself immersed in the murmur of chatter and the clatter of shopping cart wheels and weights upon scales, (the garlic guy used a trusty stone to balance my purchase). I'm mesmerized by the dappled sunlight shining though the stretched tarpaulin and between the olive trees upon the vibrant colours and the bustle of the crowd whose feet stir dust up into the air, a soft focus for the odd ancient tomb. The perimeter of the market is about two stalls deep with the most vibrant foodstuffs on one side, but even deeper on the other side yet with the paraphernalia of our consumerism led world. Clothes and fake copies of all the biggest brands, the shirts and jeans, hats and bags merge into curtains and bed spreads and the now ubiquitous peshtemal, a small stall selling utensils sits meekly in the corner where once stood several rows of stalls selling plastic buckets, tin trays, pots and pans, and a multitude of curiosity inducing home ware. It's seems that the local supermarkets now stock these and they have been relegated secondary at the Friday market. And in the middle of all this cacophony is a small area allocated to the incredible skill of swift gözleme production. Several stalls serve their tables, each covered by the simplest of means and shared by shoppers who wait and watch the speedy construction of their rolled out pastry which is then stuffed to order and baked on one large flat grill.
A picture of perfect, semi-rural bliss. But. There's a dark side. The people opposite us drank the ayran*, homemade they said, but it was served in disposable plastic, the juice of orange and pomegranate was squeezed right there, served this time in paper cups but with individually wrapped plastic straws. (I felt like saying "these are virtually banned in England, surely you can drink from a cup? Please don't use a straw!" But I felt shy, already overwhelmed by the brushing of shoulders with so many other humans at once, I was temporarily incapable of defending my planet.
I felt defeated by those neon killer straws that day.
I wonder if any one at that market will read this or even something similar, but I know to make the difference I have to make this my mission. Otherwise the nice orange and pomegranate squeezer guy is gonna look at me blankly and simply say "but my customers want straws"** Then there is the plastic bag glut. We had forgotten our shopping bags so we determined to buy one with wheels, there weren't any. It's hard to know how to shop for things like squishy ripe figs and straight-from-the-dirt new potatoes, you can't combine them so recycled paper bags would have been useful, but in their absence we found ourselves juggling to maintain a mix of things in a minimum of bags. In our effort we dropped a small jar of local honey, it was smashed and we had to throw it away. I felt bad for the bees. I had asked the producer/seller man about them. He told us of a bug that is so small yet it lays it's eggs next to the bee eggs and they both hatch together, but the bug eats the wings off the baby bees.*** He told us he uses some medicine to rid the baby bees of this blight. I'm wondering what that even means; A pesticide? Used at will by a small local bee keeper who is controlled by no body or authority yet we are buying this honey on the assumption that it's local and therefore natural? That's not to say that any large producer is not using the same "medicine" and worse, but the bucolic ideal of the healthy pazar produce continued to fade. Maybe it's just as well we dropped the honey. Even in our most ideal local settings and especially in places like Turkey where we have very poor recycling policy and habits it is almost impossible to be sure that we are really doing or consuming the right thing. Time to take pause and to rethink: In this case as always we must find the small action points that will steer us out of our behavioural rut and our negativity.
- We can be sure to take our own reusable large bags whenever and where ever we shop.
- We can take containers even for sloppy stuff like the hot pepper paste they sell in large tubs or the nuts and spices. - We can make our own paper bags for more delicate or dirty produce (It's a bummer to have to bother I know, but check out the link below****) - We can refuse plastic cups. (No self respecting Türk would drink tea from anything but glass even if it's only had a brief swill to clean it, juice, ayran and water can be served the same way) - To avoid the possibility that a glass is not available we should have our own glass or mug always in our reusable bag and we can ask the server to pour into that. - Straws need adamant refusal along with a brisk reminder that a) they are completely destructive and toxic to the environment and b) adults look really stupid when they suck from them! (but if you do insist in sipping your cocktail with one get a reusable one and carry it with you please!)
- We can pressure the big chemical companies to NOT produce harmful pesticides and we can learn about bees and their importance.
- We can find out about local bee keeping and honey production and about other local produce and be sure to support local. Check out and attend any local bee keeping seminars like we have here in Sile.
I really love shopping at my local pazar, whether it be Kas or Sile or anywhere in the world. Sadly here in Turkey we are quite behind regarding awareness and implementation of sustainable living. My local pazar sellers always congratulate me on my stance, they tell me that I do it because I'm different, they say people here can't get used to change. I beg to differ, but we had better work double hard to prove just how capable we all are.
*Ayran is a drink made with plain yoghurt, water and some salt.
** 500 million straws a day. Time to turn that around Today!
Note: Use of straws are sometimes medically indicated after trauma or surgery etc to the mouth or teeth!(even then they should be made of paper preferably or some reusable type like bamboo)
*** Things that really bug our bees
**** How to make a paper bag (no glue)