Last Sunday when I was dragged to become a ‘driver’ early morning, I reluctantly woke up and did the errand. Passing by me as I drove to do my errand was the early morning market, or we call it ‘tamu’ locally. These market operates very early around 7 in the morning and ends by noon, at least the one in KB does. I have been wanting to visit the local tamu and I guess last Sunday was the opportunity to do so.
I think of the ‘tamu’ as our farmers’ market. In other countries, the farmers’ market is the place where you can buy and support local vendors. Similarly, a lot of vendors are selling their produce of fruits and vegetables here. I was in for a shock when I noticed the differences between the ‘tamu’ and the supermarket that I frequent.
If you have been buying your groceries from the supermarket (like I do, guilty as charged!), perhaps a visit to the ‘tamu’ would change your perspective of things? Here’s what I think after I visited the market:
- Some produce is cheaper here.
Never underestimate the prices sold at the tamu. As I was a first timer, I walked around the vicinity and survey the prices of the things I wanted to buy. Almost everyone sells at the same price. 1 kilogramme of tomatoes for $2, red onions at $1 per kilo, 3 cucumbers for $1 and so on. I bought half a kilo of tomatoes for $1 and there were about 5 tomatoes. I think the same 5 tomatoes in the supermarket would cost me more than a dollar. And the best part? Next point!
- Free to choose which produce you want.
I get to choose which tomatoes I wanted. I have the tendency of choosing the ‘prettier’ ones over the ones that have dents or spot. I know, it’s a bad habit. Maybe I just want my tomatoes to be visually pleasing. A lot of produce in the market are yours to choose so you could always choose the not rotten or ugly ones out, or the bigger fruits over the smaller ones. A lot of the fruits and vegetables in supermarkets are prepacked so you don’t have the option to choose them freely.
- Competitive market.
Almost every vendor have the same selling price point so you’re not losing out. 1 notable feature is when they advertised in the open air such as “1 kilo $1!” It’s a way to attract you to see what they are selling and I also think it’s the charm of visiting this place. I mean, you won’t hear people calling out their prices in the open, right? With the exception of an auction place maybe.
The other 2 minor points would be the freshness and the variety of the fruits and vegetables. I think there is more variety in the market than the supermarket in a way that you have more options to buy from these vendors. For example, 2 vendors may sell the exact same onion at the exact same price and you may choose to buy 1 kilo from vendor A and another from vendor B. Furthermore, the freshness of the fruits and vegetables between the vendors aren’t very apparent, unless if you know how to tell the differences between a fresh one and the not so fresh vegetable. From my observation, every vendor seemed to be selling at the same quality.
Of course, not every fruits or vegetable can be found in ‘tamu’, so to speak. I didn’t see any vendors selling lemons, avocados, strawberries and only 1 vendor was selling grapes. These fruits are imported and I don’t think it’s worth for the vendors to sell these at the market. So while these ‘premium’ ingredients aren’t sold in the local ‘tamu’, a lot of the common fruits and vegetables are being sold, such as long beans (sayur kacang), leafy vegetables (sayur sawi, sayur kangkung, etc).
So the next time you want to buy your fruits or vegetables, how about stop by your local farmers’ market and compare the different prices and qualities the open market has to offer? A lot of these vendors are run by individuals with family members to feed and not run by mega corporations. By buying from them, you help the families directly. Personally, I feel good that my money spent in these markets are helping the families in their living.