BUY FRESH, ORGANIC FOOD AT THE BANDRA FARMER'S MARKET
The weekly Farmers’ Market at D’Monte Park is an excellent place to find fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. You can also buy organic cakes, regular coffee, juice, lassi, and other fresh foods from local producers and suppliers. The market takes place every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Farmers’ Market, D’Monte Park, Next to Bandra Gymkhana, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050.
On the spring equinox in March 2010, we went to the first ever Farmers’ Market in Mumbai. In the tiny, cruddy park attached to the Bandra Hindu Association (Khar), we warned my small girls away from the rusty swings and walked in to see what we could buy.
It was a bare-bones set up – stalls, farmers, fruit, vegetables. I can’t remember if they were selling those jute bags yet, but there were some serious posers – sun hats, sun glasses, white linen – smoking cigarettes in the corner just in case you missed the point.
There was also an organic candyfloss man! My then 4-year-old, seriously allergic to artificial colour, ate her first cotton candy ever that morning and proceeded in absolute ecstasy to wipe her hands all over my pregnant belly.
It’s been 8 years since, and the Farmers’ Market has grown and evolved and travelled, from the Bandra Hindu Association to Maharashtra Nature Park to Bhalla House to where it sits today, in lovely D’Monte Park in Bandra.
Kavita Mukhi, author of this weekly wonder and the woman who started Conscious Foods, who brought the slow food movement to us. She still walks around like a wood sprite – ageless and beautiful (and very intimidating despite how tiny she is). She has worked tirelessly and selflessly – there at every single market, explaining organic certifications, raising an eyebrow at people who bargain, making sure the farmers are treated well, the other vendors are relevant, and sometimes offering you a ridiculous hat made of newspaper. (I wore it out of sheer fear respect.)
There is more space now, and tables to sit at and eat at or gawk while musicians perform. A buying system was set up that involves baskets, coupons, and queues. The posers are far outnumbered by very serious organic produce consumers who will jostle and elbow you in some survival-of-the-fittest routine. There is a selection of fresh food; local bakeries present organic cakes, regular coffee, juice, lassi, brands of kombucha, delicious Indian treats like khichdi or pakoras or idlis but made with healthy alternatives like barley, millet, or red rice. Packaged organic domestic supplies, mosquito repellents, dried food are available. For a while, you could buy the eggs of the absolute on-trend Kadaknath chickens.
Every week, the market shape-shifts a little in terms of what extras are on sale, but it remains the best place to buy organic, in-season fruit, vegetables, herbs, and the best broccoli you will ever eat.
My small girls are now teens who are too cool for the market, but the now 7-year-old runs around dodging the marigolds strewn on the lawn, looking for the turkeys and geese that strut around D’Monte Park. I nod at an odd woman who, seeing me buy two large pineapples, asks if I can clean and cut them. She is as impressed as if I was smoking a cigarette, wearing a sunhat.
Photographs by Suruchi Maira