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The New Market: Old place, new opportunities

Markets are places of meeting and trading. In the past it was often the heart around which the city has developed over time. The market connected and connects visitors with their food, with entrepreneurs and with fellow residents. The Albert Cuyp market, the cheese market in Alkmaar and the Grote Warenmarkt in Haarlem are the anchor points in the city. Every resident knows them. Many enjoy the conviviality. That is unfortunately not a given. The market has withstood the centuries but will also have to adapt to new needs in the future. Today, only 4% of daily purchases in Amsterdam come off the market. That was once tenfold. How can the market flourish again?

This question is the starting point for the Nieuwe Markt project that the Food Council MRA presented to the Municipality of Amsterdam in 2018. Due to a lack of manpower and resources, the project has been put on hold for the time being. We are looking for enthusiastic allies to make it work.


From local to global


Technical and social developments in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries radically changed the food system of the cities. The advent of the steamboat, the train, the refrigerator and the sea container have made it possible to bring cheap food from all corners of the world. The globalization of the economy means that eaters no longer have a clue where the ingredients of processed food come from. Farmers and city dwellers have their backs to each other. The newspapers are full of the negative consequences of this process of alienation from our daily food: environmental pollution, exploitation, animal-unfriendly practices, waste and depletion of the soil. Can the market play a role in solving this issue? We think so if and insofar as products from the region can once again find a place in our city markets.


The arrival of the supermarket

The supermarket has cornered the market on the street and in market halls since the 1950s. With the decline of the market, crafts and regional products have come under pressure. In recent years, there has been a growing resistance against processed food, against one-sided efficiency thinking, against mass production and against marketing unhealthy food. Local and organic are on the rise. De Nieuwe Markt offers a guide to a contemporary food environment in which sustainability, health, transparency and affordability are paramount for all. At the new-style street market, space is being made for good, healthy, new food for the small purse. To this end, for example, there is collaboration with food technologists from the Amsterdam universities of applied sciences.  


Leverage for the short chain?

The question is whether and, if so, how the market can play a significant role in supplying the city with sustainable, fresh, healthy and local food. Can the market play a role as a link between local producers and eaters in and around the city? Isn't the market trapped in a local small-scale bubble where entrepreneurs have forgotten the way to the consumer? Is the market not more than just a place for interaction between trader and consumer? Is it possible and desirable to change this? If so for whom and how? Which inspiring examples can be found at home and abroad? How can the market resume its role as a meeting place in the multicultural city?

These and related questions are central to the De Nieuwe Markt project.

Contacts: Jeffrey Spangenberg tel. 06 50 27 89 20

Image by gemma
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