"Holding our first series of recurring, monthly markets has begun to move the project from the conceptual stage to a becoming a real institution."
Seattle has its Pike Place. San Francisco has its Ferry Plaza. London has its hugely successful Borough Hall. But New York, for all its Greenmarkets and locavores and farm-to-table fetishists, has never had a year-round, large-scale venue for sustainable, local food sale—and it's this that New Amsterdam Market aims to change, one event at a time.
Though it's been over a year since New Amsterdam's last convocation, Robert LaValva and Cerise Mayo's crusade to establish a permanent market has started to gain momentum. After successful fundraising and a great deal of positive press, New Amsterdam will hold four market meetings at the Fulton Fish Market this fall—September 13, October 25, November 22, and December 20. They have yet to secure a public site for the would-be permanent market. But LaValva isn't concerned. "Markets are something which have some transience to them, and can evolve without a fixed site until they settle into one—this has been true for the past few thousand years, and it remains true today."
Why should a serious eater stop by this Sunday's market? You'd have to take out the Zipcar and circle the region for days to compile a smörgåsbord like this:
- Manhattan fixtures Saxelby Cheesemongers and Sullivan Street Bakery
- Sweet treats from Princeton's Bent Spoon and Brooklyn's people's popsicle
- New takes on old favorites, like pickles by the barrel from Brooklyn Brine
- Sandwiches from Porchetta and Marlow & Sons
- Maple bacon brittle from The Redhead
- Mixology seminars with Allen Katz, Director of Mixology at Southern Wine & Spirits, and a jam-making workshop with Kelly Geary, founder of Sweet Deliverance
- Anything else you can think of: free-range bison and local mead, Middle Eastern breads—the list goes on. "We continue receiving strong interest from past and prospective vendors," says LaValva, "all of which point to the potential of a permanent market."
But New Amsterdam brings more to the city than this roster of good eats.
At Serious Eats, we're well aware of the challenges facing local farmers who sell at our markets each week. But it's hard to shift our food system on such a small scale. As a public, permanent venue, New Amsterdam would not aim to supplant the city's thriving Greenmarkets, but rather complement them. Through allowing vendors like butchers, mongers, and food purveyors to set up shop—along with distributors, such as Angello's, Regional Access, and Basis, who will be in attendance this weekend—this third parties will be able to source the best products and bring them to a single, competitive venue.
"Distributors are essential to the formation of a strong food system," LaValva says. "It's great to have them take part—in a permanent market, companies like these will be able to greatly expand the range of regional products available in New York." These expert middlemen would import small farmers’ harvests while sparing them the long and costly trip to the city. Growers gain a steady market, while urbanites come closer than ever to the source of their food. And awareness is the first step towards responsible food production.
Four markets in one fall; it's a big step forward. "Holding our first series of recurring, monthly markets has begun to move the project from the conceptual stage to a becoming a real institution," says LaValva. So head down to South Street Seaport this weekend—meet the purveyors, pick up some local wine, eat yourself silly. It's for a good cause.
New Amsterdam Market
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