'On market days the squares are piled high with garlic and onions and every sort of vegetable and fruit. The people shout, throw things, scuffle, laugh and sing all day long.'
When it comes to fresh produce, Australia is one of the luckiest countries in the world, thanks to our farmers (of course!) and the Sydney Markets – one of the largest food distribution centres in the southern hemisphere, and among the largest wholesale fruit and vegetable markets in the world.
Everyone who eats fruit and vegetables has, in some way, had something to do with the Sydney Markets. Over two and a half million tonnes of fresh produce pass through the gates, feeding one-third of the country’s population twelve months of the year. The Markets play a significant role in the horticultural industry, and the economy of New South Wales and Australia.
Although the Sydney Markets are the only wholesale markets in Australia to allow access to the general public, a large proportion of Australia's population will never have the opportunity to have a peek behind the scenes. Until now, that is.
Sydney Markets have teamed up with film maker, Kieran ’Spud’ Murphy to create a unique and captivating documentary television series. ‘The markets are the lifeblood of our nation, a nocturnal world, where the workers toil from dusk till dawn to bring us the freshest, best produce every day. If you thought Con the Fruiter was funny, wait till you meet the whole family. Some 5,500 people work at the Markets and all of them are characters. I like to call it Fruit Noir!’ says Spud.
Indeed, as someone who has had the privilege of touring the Sydney Markets on more than one occasion, not to mention that I spent almost ten years working as the promotions and centre manager of a small fresh produce market here in Canberra, I can tell you: market people are an interesting and (mostly) loveable bunch. シ
Watch an entrée-sized preview...
Life Inside the Markets screens on 7Two on Sunday afternoons at 3.30pm (commencing on Sunday 3 May) for 12 weeks.
Episode 1 - Welcome
Today, racing for a feast at Randwick; the World’s best watermelon; and we meet the Goldenfruit ‘good cop, bad cop’ boys.
Episode 2 - D Shed
Drama in D Shed; a Paddy’s Market special; the Brothers Grima; and a not so secret fresh food buy for a secret Dinner.
Episode 3 - F Shed
It’s Mothers Day and the flower market is alive! We meet the Queen of the Markets and see a very special delivery.
Episode 4 - Flavours
A new gelato flavour is invented; a Soup Kitchen startup; and the markets sweetest corn travels to the Royal Easter show.
Episode 5 - Harvest
The Harvest Hub Boys find the freshest produce for local communities; and what to do with 5 tonne of unwanted carrots.
Episode 6 - Love
Love is in the air, as a hopeful groom, plans an elaborate proposal, but will it end in tears?
Episode 7 - Fresh
Meet the 'Fresh Fellas' as they wheel and deal their way through the markets; plus what’s in season in June.
Episode 8 - Cherry & Charity
See the best cherries in Australia picked packed and shipped; while Oz Harvest and the Exodus foundation feed those living it rough.
Episode 9 - Vegetable Tales
Australia’s leading chefs and CEOs team up to feed the homeless; and we find the 'holiest' strawberries in the Market.
Episode 10 - Fruit & Fireworks
'Captain Chaos' is on the march looking for the perfect strawberry for a photo shoot, but he may have met his match; plus Chinese New Year goes off with a bang.
Episode 11 - Ship to Shore
Sydney Harbour plays host to the Carnival Spirit, as they stock up on the best fresh produce on offer; and we meet the
'Banana Boys' (not the ones in pyjamas!).
Episode 12 - Nocturnal
Chef Serge Dansereau of Bathers Pavilion is on the search for new exotic flavours for his award-winning restaurant; and Oz Harvest feed 5,000.
To catch up on some of the episodes of Life inside the Markets that you have missed, click the link to Yahoo TV here.
Postcards from the Sydney Markets...
About the Sydney Markets...
When it was built in 1975, the Sydney Market was the largest construction project undertaken by the NSW Government since the Opera House. It covers an area of more than 42 hectares, which includes one of the largest warehousing facilities in Australia, and has its own post office and postcode, banks, a hotel and motel, licensed club, medical centre, childcare centre, shopping centre and rail facility. In fact, there is so much ground to cover, many of the buyers duck and weave their way around the Market on BMX bicycles or motor scooters, with cartons of produce strapped onto the handlebars.
There are approximately 120 wholesalers operating as agents or merchants in the Market. The general trend by wholesalers is towards product specialisation. For example, there are some merchants specialising in Asian produce, such as Thai basil, snow pea tendrils, lemon grass, mung beans, water chestnuts, bitter melon and fresh turmeric; and others who specialise in single lines, such as mushrooms or bananas.
In addition, there is a grower/seller market where an average of 400 local growers sell their fruit and vegetables direct to buyers. Those who love to surround themselves with fresh flowers will discover paradise in Pavilion F. This is a huge flower market where around 170 or so growers sell a mass of fresh cut flowers and plants to buyers.
The Market supplies fresh fruit and vegetables to suburban fruit shops, supermarkets and self-service fruit markets in Sydney and surrounds. Indeed, a proportion of the fresh fruit and vegetables sold in markets and retail outlets in my home town of Canberra has come direct from the Market. Suppliers to the food and hospitality industry (hotels, restaurants etc) also have major operations at the Markets. And the majority of fruit, vegetable and flower exporters in NSW have operations there too. Through its marketing team, the Market liaises with growers, retailers and wholesalers with the aim to increase awareness of fresh fruit and vegetables. There is a special emphasis on helping consumers learn what’s in season, as well as providing new ideas on how to use fresh produce or try fruit and vegetables that they have not yet cooked with.
The images from Life inside the Markets appear on Good Things with the kind courtesy of Sydney Markets Limited.
Tell me dear readers, have you ever visited the Sydney Markets? Do you have a large produce market of this scale in your part of the world? And have you managed to watch this series?
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.