Enewsletter Issue No. 15 just released! Feature Story: Farmers’ Markets Embrace Diverse Values Beyond Profit and Capital

2017-03-02

Initiatives to explore the meaning and practice of sustainable living are attempts to contest with the mainstream economy dictated only by capital and profit. A certain lifestyle is shaped by the mainstream economy that places economic values above everything else. Even though it manages to create wealth and alleviates the poverty of some people, it has done much harm as well. For example, nature has been destroyed recklessly, human relationships are falling apart and the sense of belonging to one’s community has diminished enormously.

To rediscover a free and autonomous way of life that embraces diversity beyond mainstream values, farmers’ markets that resemble traditional markets have been revived and become an important part of the movement for sustainable living in mainland China.

In the farmers’ market, transaction is not just an economic relationship. It is a direct communication and exchange between two parties in the process of which a relationship of trust and mutual help is built gradually. Consumers support the livelihood of small-scale farmers while the farmers provide consumers with healthy food cultivated ecologically. Some markets promote DIY (Do it Yourself) by encouraging exchange of homemade food and handicrafts. DIY enables the participants to rediscover their creativity and their ability to make a living, and they also gain satisfaction from their physical labour and a sense of meaning in what they do. In this process, they inherit and pass on local and traditional culture and recognise their own value.

In today’s mode of consumption, convenience is the keyword to profit. One only has to go into a supermarket or a mall to find everything that one wants. Or sit in front of the computer, and with a few clicks of a mouse have whatever one wants delivered to one’s doorstep. Who, then, would forsake the easy path to take the difficult one? What did they have in mind when they revived the farmers’ market?

In this issue, we would like to feature the experience of organisers of farmers’ markets in three cities in mainland China (Guangzhou, Guiyang, Chengdu). In their articles, they share how they go beyond conventional economic considerations and embrace other values through the farmers’ markets. In the case of Chengdu, the writer also depicts the organising experience of Hope Market, a renowned farmers’ market in Taiwan.

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