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Everything is super fresh at Chubu Farmers Market

Date Posted: 2011-03-31

In an era where consumers are demanding safe foods untainted by chemicals – a situation magnified in Japan now with food products contaminated by radiation removed from the marketplace — there’s an Okinawa solution that is both tasty and economical.

The Chubu Farmers Market operates on a basic concept of “fresh vegetables from the field to the display stand the same morning”, and takes it a step further, clearly identifying the farmers and farms growing individual products. Even better, prices are set by the growers themselves, so there’s an opportunity to haggle over price while establishing a relationship with the farmers.

There’s no ‘typical’ farmer selling his or her wares at the Chubu Farmers Market. Some are senior citizens, others are women, and still others do farming part-time to supplement family incomes. “Chubu Farmers Market is a ‘Champuru Market,’ meaning a market with a wide array of fresh, delicious vegetables,” says Masatoshi Higa, the manager of the market.

It’s a year-round market, with each month accenting the crops coming to fruition. In April it’s the potato harvesting festival, followed by Goya fair in May and Passion Fruits in June. Mangos are featured in July, while the Obon Festival according to the lunar calendar is in August, and the tangerines start showing on the shelves in September. October brings the Fall Fruits Fair, followed by the Farmers Thanksgiving in November and the Amasan (sweet oranges) in December. January brings another variety of sweet oranges, the Tankan, with the Lunar Calendar New Year and the carrots fair in February. The end of year Thanksgiving Fair comes each March.

The Chubu Farmers Market is a friendly place, with farmers swapping information both on growing fruits and vegetables, and on how to prepare them. Farmers note that carrots from Tsuken Island just off Katsuren, are in season January through May, while another variety is available only in January and February. Water field potatoes and sweet potatoes are available year-round, as are bananas. There are several melon seasons; January-February, May-June and in September.

Dragon fruits are in season June through November. Passion fruit’s first season has just ended, but there’s another in June and a third season in November. Tankan oranges are best in January and February, while the Amasan sweet orange is only in December. Pineapples are at their peak July to December, and Shiqwaasaa, the green lemon, is in season September through December.

“This market is a great place,” says the wife of an Air Force serviceman. “We love to come here because all vegetables and fruits and flowers are so fresh and good, and the price is reasonable, too.” She says “I came to Okinawa only four months ago and I already love living here.”

To visit Chubu Farmers Market, exit Kadena Air Base Gate 3. The market is located on the left just before the intersection with Route 329. It’s only a five-minute drive. The market is open daily 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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