Sunday, September 26, 2010

Homegrown Produce and Roadside Stalls

Driving through Croatia with our Tom Tom, has often lead us to the more remote, rustic villages where the ‘tourist’ is pretty much non-existent. It is in these places that we have seen the culture so obviously on display. We have watched as older men cultivate their land with handheld tools, so diligently and little old ladies in their black head scarves selling their homegrown produce, cheeses, jams and olive oils at the roadside, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. We have learned, in both Italy and Croatia, that buying and selling produce locally is central to the lifestyle here and essential to the livelihood of local growers. We have been to several open-air markets and experienced the flurry of energy, the buzz, the tenacity and passion of the local merchants, willing to barter and bargain with their buyers. You can visibly see the freshness of the produce, so full of life and colour, with a screaming invitation to be eaten.

Up until the last 20 years, supermarkets were non-existent in this part of the world and all food was bought and sold in these open-air markets. It is with sadness that some locals speak about the effects of globalization and the influx of larger supermarkets into their communities. We feel sad too, that another, more commercial and capital driven culture is influencing this very important part of Mediterranean life. Lets hope, that the Italians and Croats can maintain what they do so very well and maybe increase their influence on the rest of the world that little bit more.


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