One of the most prominent things that I have noticed so far while on this study abroad trip is the importance of the local markets in these communities. We have had the opportunity to explore a couple of markets so far and these experiences have really stuck out to me. Back in the United States, farmers markets are a deep tradition in my family and are something that I have always admired and enjoyed. There was even a time in which I attended them weekly, helping my grandparents sell their plants. I fondly remember connecting to other vendors and sharing stories. Here in Thailand, markets provide a variety of important ingredients in Thai’s life. The most obvious is the food, which comes from local farmers stationed throughout the country. Fresh meat including chicken, pork and fish along with a diverse selection of vegetables, fruits and home-cooked meals.
Food is a central part of the Thai culture and provides a chance for Thai’s to connect with each other and their families. It also has become an expression of their culture, a true staple of the country. Additionally, the food that is sold at the market is a large, if not only, source of income for many individuals and families. It is crucial for community members to support their neighbors and fellow Thai at these events by stimulating the economy and purchasing their produce at the market.
Lastly, the market creates a social environment for locals and visitors alike to connect and share in something. Friends laugh and reminisce, check in on each other’s families and simply make connections to those around them. As someone who is not local, I find the market to be an opportunity for me to peer into the life and culture of the community. In the United States, we have begun to lose touch with events like this and may think lightly of it happening in other countries. I cannot tell you how many people I have interacted with that did not even know what a farmer’s market was. However, the importance of the local markets is vital to understanding other cultures and lifestyles, especially those in Thailand. It can, even if just for a moment, allow you to also be a part of all of it. So get out there, visit a Thai market, and get a taste of Thailand!