Call us fickle: we may have just given you a reason to never visit Dubai skyscraper and world’s tallest building the Burj Khalifa (you can experience the whole thing on Google Street View), but today we’re giving you a reason to check it out: it provides shade for the emirate’s first and only farmers’ market.
Modern Farmer reports on the origins of the marketplace, founded by the British ex-pat and proprietor of several artisan food shops in the U.K. Yael Mejia, who was disappointed by the city’s lack of local produce. “You could get crap produce from all over the world, sold in crap supermarkets just like everywhere else,” Mejia told Modern Farmer. “What about the local farms?”
It took years to bring a few local farmers on board, but the persistence paid off: 4,000 people attended the first market. Three years later, the market is still going strong.
Mejia doesn’t understand why anyone would prefer imported produce, especially when it costs significantly more. Transporting food to the middle of the desert requires significant infrastructure costs, which are passed on to the consumer. Comparatively, the farmers market is dirt cheap. “During the six months we’re open, you’d be a fool not to shop here,” says Mejia.
Interestingly, chefs–who have been at the avant-garde of the local food movement in the U.S. and U.K.– haven’t fully jumped on board yet, dependent on the sameness and reliability of wholesale-imported produce.