It is almost a weekend ritual for many to make a trip to the Centennial Farmers’ Market in Thimphu. To get there, however, is not always a pleasant experience.
Firstly, it is an impossible task to find a parking space. This leaves one circumambulating the market until you get lucky. You also require a skill to negotiate your way out of people and cars to get to the vendors.
But it is theunique world of greens that makes it worth the trouble. One can never get enough of the colours exuding fromfruits and vegetables on display. Decorating the concrete shelves are thepiles of red, green and white, the freshness and juice, the leaves and stalks.
While the market exhibits a lot of other local products, like that of dairy and incense, it is dominantly a vegetable market.
One would like to take pride in the variety but the truth prevails that most of the vegetables, especially during winter months, are imported.
It is around this time of the year that local vegetables start receding from the racks. Harsh weather and scarcity of water in winter makes it challenging for farmers to pursue cropping.
But while it lasts, Bhutanese veggies have its appeals. Coming straight from the farm, it is garden-fresh. Greens are never the same as those coming from across the border. It even tastes better, more natural, as many would put it.
In recent years, many households have also taken to kitchen gardening. The recent hype on high pesticide presencein imported vegetables, especially chilli, has forced even more people to grow out of however small plot available.
They pursue assorted crops that take care of vegetable needs for weeks. The habit also saves them from having to visit the vegetable markets.
It would be safe to say, Bhutanese relish good amount of healthy vegetables, almost all local, during the period.
The much-sought idea today is to have ways to prolong vegetable production and have Bhutanese cultivate even in winters. Other option is to find ways to store them until the dry months. Until then, while it lasts, one should be insisting on local veggieson the menu.