24 April 2017: the ubiquitous market


Food markets are everywhere – they are truly ubiquitous. Throughout the world all cities, suburbs, small towns and villages have them. These markets are constantly adapting as we change our shopping habits. Retail malls have provoked varied reactions over time, competing with traditional high streets and often seen as blots on the landscape. However, times are changing and they are losing popularity – in the US, there is even a website charting their decline state by state. Many are finding new uses including those being reinvented as indoor food halls, combining a traditional market with upscale food vendors. But how does this impact on traditional markets that have been here for our neighbourhood communities for centuries, supplying them with healthy and accessible food and providing support for local businesses. As cities change and regeneration moves local people out of the centre what happens to this way of shopping for fresh food?  I have started a new blog, the ubiquitous market to document all that is new, exciting and essential about food markets and the people that create them. the ubiquitous market provides a window into how food markets adapt as we change our shopping habits and aims to chart current trends.


24 July 2016: ‘old’ supermarket food versus fresh market produce

Tom Rawstorne writes in the UK Daily Mail about the age of food sold in UK supermarkets – apples can be up to 12 months old, fish can be up to two years old, fresh salad and vegetables can be up to 3 weeks old. This all comes down to new and improved technologies that chill, store and treat fresh food to extend its life. The article  discusses  how much nutritional quality is retained through these technologies and treatments. Such revelations can only boost the case for shopping for fresh food on markets.

17 October 2015 – new UK report ‘Traditional Markets under Threat’

A new UK report ‘Traditional Markets under threat: why it’s happening and what traders and customers can do’  has just been published. It is written by Sara Gonzalez and Gloria Dawson and they have provided a helpful summary of its aims which is below. You can access the Report here:  http://tradmarketresearch.weebly.com/report.html
NEW REPORT: Traditional Markets under threat: why it’s happening and what traders and customers can do
Traditional markets in the UK find themselves at a crossroads; on one hand pushed out by changing retail trends and urban redevelopment, on the other championed as desirable, vibrant spaces which are the key to reviving town centres. Regeneration plans threaten what many traders and customers see as a unique and necessary public space in the heart of our towns and cities.

This report has two aims; firstly, to critically examine the changing fortunes of the traditional market, with an emphasis on wider urban regeneration and gentrification strategies, and secondly to explore ways in which customers and traders can successfully maintain markets as places which serve particular and often marginalised groups of people, and in which the social value of these spaces is maintained.

The report is aimed at campaigners or potential campaigners, people with a general or academic interest in regeneration, retail and urban development, and policy-makers (especially at a local level). It draws on campaign work and the analysis of campaign groups such as ‘Friends of’ market groups in Birmingham, Leeds, Peterborough and Queen’s Market (East London), as well as trader groups like Shepherd’s Bush Market Traders Association and grassroots housing activists like Tower Hamlets Renters.
 Both sections of the report can be read separately or together.
The report was produced in collaboration with groups who campaign on markets. The research that underpins this report was carried out in 2014-2015 and was funded by a scholar-activist award from the Antipode Foundation based in the School of Geography, University of Leeds. 
Dr Sara Gonzalez is a Lecturer in Critical Human Geography at the University of Leeds, with a long-standing interest in markets and the neoliberal city. She helped set up Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market.  Gloria Dawson is an independent researcher, writer and activist who has been involved in various campaigns around the right to the city. She has an MA in Social and Cultural Geography and has also worked as a community organiser.

22 April 2015 – Markets under threat

There is a good piece (from PPS) about traditional markets throughout the world that are under threat from issues such as  physical neglect, war, poor management, competition from international chain stores, and real estate pressures on the Sustainable Cities Collective website.

You can read the article and see the images here

7 April 2015 – World Health Day

It’s WHO World Health Day and the focus is on food safety. There is plenty going on – you can take a food safety quiz here – or you could read about research conducted by ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute) on food safety and women in informal markets who say that:

Traditional markets are particularly important for women. For example, in most African countries, the majority of street food processors and vendors are women, while the majority of customers are men. As well as being one of the few livelihood strategies open to poor women, the street food sector is of great importance to the economy.