I’m here! I’m here! I swear I’m here! I realize it’s been three whole days and then some since I got back from my trip, and I haven’t dished out the goods yet. I’m despicable, I realize. I’d use excuses like “major life change in the midst of unfolding” and “200+ emails waiting for me in my inbox when I got back that I’m still addressing” and “600+ pictures that still need edited and uploaded” and so forth. But really, I need to get my priorities straight.
First and foremost, you need to know how wonderful Portugal is.
Beautiful offerings of Lisbon’s market
So let’s start with the markets I saw during my tirp. The Portuguese culture is one rich in agrarian heritage and is still rooted in bringing fresh local produce to market every day. I was astonished by how many markets there were, one in every single town I visited to be precise, usually matter-of-factly known as “mercado municipal” and centrally located so residents could stop by every day to pick up whatever it was they needed for dinner that night. It seemed so natural, this town produce market system, but it frankly puts American farmers markets to shame in many ways.
Farmers markets here are still rather novel – growing, but still not the standard way everyone gets all their vegetables and fruit, let alone their meats, cheeses, and baked goods. In towns up and down Portugal, large and small, these markets are a long-standing way of procuring seasonal produce and just about every other food commodity that can be made locally. Most of the produce found at these mercado municiples was locally grown on small farms in the surrounding outskirts of town. I have never seen so many wonderful little urban farms, most less than half an acre in size but all highly productive. I’ll talk more later about the farming I observed. For now, just know that the goods you see for sale in these market pictures are proof of sustainable agriculture at its best; a sustainable system that’s been withstanding the test of time and turbulent Portuguese politics, some that have included taking farms away from their individaul land owners in times past, with great fortitude.