The last post about Manchester's fish market turned Crafts market got me thinking, rather intensely about local food, markets, and the things a market can do for a city and its citizens.
One thing about Manchester I just can't get comfortable with is the lack of proper farmers' markets. On the weekends, I love wandering about a market, meeting people who grow vegetables and fruit, who make cheeses and jams, and being able to buy food that is locally made and locally sourced. I like my money to support local food producers.
Manchester's city centre just really doesn't have anything like this. Once a fortnight, there is a "real food market" in Piccadilly Gardens, but the one fruit & veg stall there just sells the same shipped-from-South-Africa produce that every other supermarket sells. Loads of stalls sell cupcakes and burgers, but I can't find a Cheshire-grown head of broccoli.
I can subscribe to a local fruit & veg box scheme, and I did for my first year in Manchester. But when you're cooking only for yourself, a box that sometimes has 0 cabbage and 9 leeks in it can be overwhelming. I still need the cabbage, and I want a nice city-centre market, where I can buy locally grown cabbage. There is a market in Bury. There is an organic co-op in Chorlton. But these places require a tram ride.
It's a shame, especially when you look at smaller towns like Belfast, Norwich or Newcastle. They manage enormous markets, right in the centre of town, which really bring a lovely atmosphere to the city on the weekends. You wander down, with an empty shopping bag. You buy a coffee, bump into friends, get your shop done.
In this way, Manchester just feels incomplete.
A city, it seems to me, really needs a good market.