Magazine article The Spectator

Stephanie Grace in New Orleans

Magazine article The Spectator

Stephanie Grace in New Orleans

Article excerpt

As New Orleans continues its slow slog towards recovery from Hurricane Katrina, the first signs of new life in stilldevastated neighbourhoods have often been the markets. It's fitting that the city that boasts America's oldest urban bazaar -- the newly refurbished French Market in the unflooded French Quarter -- should see community markets as a vehicle for economic rebirth, as well as an answer to the absence of national retailers. In addition to several weekly markets that date back preKatrina, there are now regular farmers' markets in the Upper Ninth Ward, Lakeview and Broadmoor, with more planned. The mayor's office has jumped on this citizen-driven bandwagon by supporting yet another new monthly market on Freret Street, one of 17 officially designated recovery zones.

Right away, a problem emerged: too many farmers' markets, not enough fresh produce to stock them. So the market movement has spurred a spin-off push to create community and urban gardens. In the meantime, fresh-food markets have morphed into more haphazard shopping venues, where vendors hawk prepared dishes, homemade art and crafts and second-hand treasures, often to a background of live music.

Shoppers at Freret Street munch on fried turkey po-boys, tacos and gelato; flip through secondhand books; grab late-season tomatoes; sniff fancy aromatherapy soaps; chuckle over folk art satirising local politicians' foibles; and browse an impressive array of beaded necklaces. …

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