Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Finding Fresh Local Produce
Local produce on Guam can be purchased at grocery stores, farmers' markets, roadside stands or trucks. Many grocery stores, both big and small, carry a small variety of local produce. Depending on the season or availability, tomatoes, okra, green onions, calamansi (local small limes, very fragrant), eggplant (small, purple, and long), chaote (chayote or pear squash), pumpkin, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, white radish (daigo, daikon), and kang kong (morning glory or Chinese spinach) can be found.
The Dededo Flea Market brings together many farmers and sellers of local produce on Saturday mornings for the weekly event. It is located in the parking lot near Dededo Payless. You can browse many items and people-watch on Saturday mornings.
Chamorro Village in Hagatna has farmers' markets open daily, according to the signs posted. Located across from TGIF or Bank of Guam, farmers also sell their produce on Wednesday nights for Chamorro Village Night Market (near the Fisherman's Co-op). I have found boonie peppers, bananas, sweet potatoes, fresh buko (young coconut), and calamansi at this farmers' market.
You can find sweet local corn in Barrigada across from the main Post Office. The farmer has a truck parked outside of the beige National Guard complex. His corn is very sweet and delicious. I usually make a raw corn salad or salsa, and then boil the rest to serve with dinner. Sometimes other vendors show up to sell their tomatoes, sweet tuba (local coconut alcohol, "local beer"), or seafood.
One of my favorite farmers' market is in Harmon next to the Iglesia Ni Christo Church (beautiful, white, grand church with steeple, you can't miss it), east past the Micronesian Mall. There are two vendors, one on each side of the church. The vendor on the west is a local Korean family of farmers. Their produce comes from local farms including their own, and the prices are very good for those watching their budgets. The vegetables are so fresh that they last longer in the refrigerator than produce from grocery stores. Typical vegetables you can find here include tomatoes, watermelon, kang kong, and bananas, to name a few.
On the east side of the church, you will find local Filipino vendors selling different varieties of vegetables that are not from local farms. However, you will find a few seasonal local produce like mangoes or avocados once in awhile.
My favorite thing to get from this vendor is freshly grated mature coconut. It makes me feel like I'm in Southeast Asia, where the vendor cracks open the coconut and grates it on the grinder, right there while you wait, packages it in a plastic bag, and it costs only a few dollars! You can ask the vendor to save the coconut water for you, but there isn't very much, because the coconut is mature. The grated coconut is so fresh and sweet, if you've never had freshly grated coconut, it is unlike any other coconut item you've ever had! I ate it fresh by itself. Amazing! You can also make a fresh coconut crust by dehydrating or baking it in a pan, and then adding a filling of your choice.
Although fresh local produce is not organic, most of it is grown with very little pesticides and herbicides when compared to produce flown in from the States. Some local produce is not grown with pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, but lacks the certified organic label. However, please be warned, produce should always be washed, local or not, with either a homemade or commercially-made vegetable and fruit cleaner to remove pesticides and herbicides.
So whether you want to save a buck, get the freshest produce, or support local agriculture, buying local produce is the way to go!
For more information of how to pick local vegetables, please see this article.
(Since I am currently off island and unable to take my own pictures, the image above borrowed from www.pdn.com)