Food markets are everywhere in Beijing, from designated tents to the footpath in front of your home. But when you go to grab for that vegetable, how do you know where it comes from? Here’s a guide of where to shop around town. There are plenty of online options for local and organic produce too, but we say there’s something more satisfying about going in person – you can see the vegetables for yourself and ask questions. The next step suggested by organizers? Pay a visit to the farms.
For the organizers of this monthly market, environmental awareness is no joke – they insist you bring your own take-away containers and cutlery for getting in on the vegan and vegetarian food provided by farmers, restaurants and small business owners. If you forget, they have biodegradable, one-use utensils and containers for sale, or you just may need to wait until you get home to chow down. Aside from food, this market features green clothes and accessories, and household goods.
Number of vendors: 15
We recommend: If you’re hankering for an exceptionally nutritious salad, try Western-style kale from the Hao Ge Farm in Tongzhou District.
Contact: Check out their Weibo blog at blog.sina.com.cn/u/3314895873 for more information.
Location: Canadian International School of Beijing, 38 Liangmaqiao Lu, Chaoyang District (136 8128 0119)
Beijing Organic Farmers’ Market (Country Fair)
The Country Fair is the longest running and largest farmers’ market in Beijing, and while it’s probably best known for its stint in Nali Patio, it pops up in different locations. While “organic” is in their name, the majority of the independent farmers aren’t certified by national or international standards because of the high costs. However, organizers emphasize that the growers they work with use only trusted practices (no anti-biotics in meat, little or no conventional pesticides, etc.).
The ratio of fruits and vegetables to other food and gift items is one that favors those making artisanal jams and spreads, honey, skincare products, tea and even meats and cheese. Expect new vendors often. They can some-times be difficult to pin down, so for those who like to count on regular produce availability they can check out Country Fair’s newest endeavor, a community market in Sanyuanqiao’s Phoenix City.
Number of vendors: 40+
We recommend: Homemade pesto by De Run Wu, a family-run organic farm in Changping District. They use their own basil, which has been praised by World Health Store as “bursting with flavor.”
Contact: Join their mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org find out their next location.
A traveling farmers’ market may mean you’re always one step behind the vegetables, so those behind the Country Fair (opposite) decided to solve that problem by opening a community center and grocery store in Sanyuan-qiao’s Phoenix City. Not only can you find most of the items on sale at the traveling market, but they host corporate and public events such as a speaker series, organized farm visits, and children’s activities aimed at raising awareness of sustainability.
Number of vendors:40+
We recommend: I f you thought cheese was difficult to come by in Beijing, think again. Liu Yang, the French artisanal cheese maker behind Le Fromager de Pekin, sells his latest dairy endeavors that are hard to pass up when there are fresh organic grapes just a few stalls away.
Contact: See opposite
Daily 10am-9pm. N33 Phoenix City
Location: Shopping Street, Shuguang Xili, Chaoyang District (5742 8210)
Farm to Neighbors
The newest market to hit the city to date, Farm to Neighbors is the effort of Vice’s Creator’s Project editor Erica Huang, whose own qualms with food allergies and safe production methods motivated her to start seeking out local farmers who follow organic and eco friendly practices. While it’s currently an intimate venture, the number of farmers and food makers Huang is cooperating with is growing. You’ll see a steady participant or two, including Choonisang Vegetables, who host the only “organic” stall at Sanyuanli Market. Huang’s market uses Modernista’s space, so guests don’t have to wait until they get home to try the food as Modernista’s chefs will prepare healthy brunch items with a selection of the produce on stock.
Number of vendors: 5+
We recommend: Charlie’s Bacon by the Kitchen Collective, made with free-range pork belly and hickory-smoked in a hutong courtyard. Ask about availabilty ahead of time as vendors change.
Contact: For more info, friend “farm2neighbors” on WeChat.
Location: Sundays Noon-6pm. Modernista. 44 Baochao Hutong, Gulou Dongdajie, Dongcheng District (136 9142 5744)
This post first appeared on thebeijinger.com on October 4, 2014.
Photos: the Beijinger