The Tel Aviv Farmers Market lets farmers from across Israel showcase and test their new brands and varieties to the public once a week.
The market was founded by Shir Halpern and Michal Ansky, best known from reality show “Master Chef,” to bring to Israel a tradition which is already well established in many countries of the world.
“In the Tel Aviv Farmers Market we bring the Israeli customer things he can’t find in a supermarket, for example colored watermelon,” Halpern explains. “They are all new Israeli developments of agriculture. This is what we call bio-diversity; it’s bringing the culture of food, culture of agriculture, new flavors, new developments.
“You always come here discovering new things, discovering new varieties that you can’t find in a supermarket, you can’t find anywhere else. You need to be a bit gutsy because it’s nothing like you’ve seen. You can find purple potatoes, you can find 15 kinds of cherry tomatoes, you can find fresh carrots and colored carrots.
“This is really all about localism, it’s all about seasonality, it’s all about re-discovering.”
We talked to some of the farmers at the market to find out about the new varieties of fruits and vegetables they are introducing to the Israeli public.
“Here you can find some new cherry varieties, mini-plum and plum tomatoes,” says Yakobi Cohen of Tomatec. “We have yellow tomatoes, we have pink tomatoes, and the most important thing is that these tomatoes have a very good taste, a sweet taste. They have five times more lycopene and vitamin A.”
“The Snake eggplant is a really amazing eggplant,” says Ori Greenpeterof Moshav Mishmeret. “It has this creamy texture and it’s not bitter at all. It’s really tasty and a lot of people love to put it on a wok or put it in all kinds of stews. It goes really well with some salt and olive oil in the oven. It’s an Israeli development and people love it here. Everyone who buys it just comes back and says, ‘Give me more.’”
Chef Eyal Lavi of the Rokach Market restaurant explains how being located right at the market gives his establishment an edge over the competition.
“It’s a game that we come every morning and we see what’s new in the market and we change the menu according to the season, according to new vegetable, fruits or things that we find,” he says. “We’re exposed to new species, new materials, new fruits. It’s very interesting and for me as a chef and for my staff, we have the opportunity to touch, to cook, to create new things, and it’s great.”
Some of those original Israeli fruits and vegetable are now in their testing stages. Once they’ll be bred commercially, expect to find them at a grocery store near you.