One of the great experiences of living abroad (or in a new place in the States, for that matter) is that one gets to see how other communities, governments, and societies do things. I was inspired by my friend Mei‘s discussion of the design of the ATM withdrawal process in New Zealand compared to the States to record examples of little things I’ve noticed in Wellington that lead to a more friendly, healthy or otherwise good city.
Both availability and affordability of fresh produce are of concern in the States, especially as the obesity problem and its related health challenges increase. The latter problem is addressed in Wellington through the Sunday vegetable (and fruit) markets, where a plethora of produce is sold for cheap. (How cheap? I can buy enough produce for my house of five for the week and spend ~$40.) The market is not a farmers’ market; rather, the goods sold are bought wholesale from grocery stores when they are just beyond their shelf life. If you’ve ever lived in Boston, this may sound like Haymarket, but the produce is of much better quality, and will last for more than just a couple days.
I’m guessing the accessibility issue may remain a problem; the only two markets I am aware of here are in Wellington City. That said, public housing in Wellington is integrated throughout the city, which may alleviate some of this concern.
It is time that vegetable markets in the United States move beyond venues where produce is sold from local farmers – while these are great, only a small subset of America can actually afford to purchase the goods. The problems of waste from spoilt goods in grocery stores and high cost of fresh foods could both be addressed through the establishment of similar veg markets.