Blog #16: In Praise of Markets

April 29, 2021 
Miya Komori-Glatz
Complaining that the Naschmarkt is overpriced, too busy (at least in non-COVID times) and not a real market, but rather a place to see and be seen drinking spritzers and eating hipster hummus, is a rite of passage in becoming truly Viennese. But the city’s 17 local markets are a surprisingly rich source of slow, sustainable living, and should be appreciated! In this blog, we will review some of these markets and what they can offer to those wanting to live lightly.
To be fair, many of the local markets do offer hipster food, hummus, and some even hipster hummus. Over the last few years, many local markets have undergone something of a gentrification process, with the relatively low stand prices attracting young entrepreneurs. Yppenmarkt (16th district, Karmelitermarkt (2nd district), Meidlinger Markt (12th district) and even the tiny Schwendermarkt (15th district) have all seen an influx of new businesses catering to more exotic tastes, with ethnically diverse restaurants and/or vegan and sustainable produce. If you haven’t been to your local market recently, you might be surprised by what has developed in your absence
Additionally, of course, all markets have a range of vegetable stalls, and it’s worth looking around to see if/where there are farmers’ market stalls. These are often set up on tables every day rather than in fixed stands, and may only be there in the mornings or on a Saturday. They usually sell their own produce or fruit and vegetables bought directly from neighbouring farmers, cutting down the emissions resulting from long logistics chains. For obvious reasons, the farmers’ stands also usually focus on seasonal produce, one of the best ways to reduce your environmental impact! They may not be cheaper than the supermarket, but the quality is often noticeably better and the farmers are always happy to take their time to explain how to prepare and cook unfamiliar fruit and vegetables!
Even if you have a craving for avocados or shop at one of the permanent stands which generally buy wholesalers rather than directly from the producers, it can still be a more sustainable option if you bring your own bags. Fruit and veg are sold by weight or unit and rarely packed in the plastic that is still so ubiquitous in supermarkets and they will often favour local producers where possible.
As well as fruit and vegetables, many of the markets (especially on a Saturday) have stands with an explicit focus on slow, sustainable production of meat and fish, artisan bread, and the like. Our Living Light Blog will introduce some of these stands and highlight how/why purchasing from them not only supports small, independent businesses but also helps you contribute to protecting people and planet
Finally, the markets are highly accessible, dog-friendly, and, especially important in times of COVID, open-air. An FPP2 mask is required in the market areas (not for long, though), and the Marktamt and police do patrol regularly to ensure people are not gathering. Even under the current situation, many stands have takeaway food and drink that you can take to a nearby bench or park, and, when restrictions loosen, there are many surprisingly good eateries with that Viennese holy grail: decent outdoor seating. Some markets even have active neighbourhood Vereine that organise activities and events such as yoga or free concerts in the summer. Check out the online list of all the Wiener Märkte.
And so, to market!

For me, personally, a great bonus of shopping at my local market is that I can take Strudelface, my 12-year-old adorable Mops, who everyday is making the point that sustainable living is great for longevity. And if you love that pic, follow her on Instagram @altwienermops.
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