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Jun 14, 2010 06:40 AM

Sustainable shopping in Boston Chinatown?

I try to do as much shopping as I can at farmer's market and in other sustainable ways. I cook a ton of asian food, however, and sometimes I have to go to Chinatown to get what I need.

Does anyone know where the veggies there come from? I assume that they are coming from fairly large, commerical farms, probably quite far from Boston, but I really have no idea. In the summer I buy 90% from farmer's markets (and do a CSA too), but for the winter I am wondering if Chinatown is a reasonable alternative to big supermarkets or if I'm just kidding myself.

Also, I was wondering if any of the seafood that I see there might be locally caught. I bought a whole fish last week and it was killed and cleaned to order. I loved how fresh it was, but didn't know whether it was farm raised or trucked from who knows where. I don't mind paying more at whole foods, but only if I know that I am actually getting something better.

Does anyone have any info on this? Thanks!

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    1. This is a great question that I have always wondered myself, about Chinatown specifically plus elsewhere. I too wish to support local farming as much as possible.

      I'd like to also add that the signs in the WF produce department are often wrong. Too many times I've seen signs like "Strawberries! 2.99 from CA" when the container says "produce of Mexico" It makes me wonder where the produce is really from when there is no sticker at all on the items.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

        Not exactly an answer to your question, but last summer there was a stall at the Central Square Farmer's market that sold all kinds of Chinese greens, the same round-up you've seen in Chinatown, even loofahs, Chinese squash, etc. I assume these are all locally grown.

        I can't say for sure if they are back this year.

        1. re: femmevox

          That was going to be my answer too. They were at Copley last year.

          I don't think the CTown markets pay much attention to sustainabilty.

          Pretty sure there are farms in the Lowell area that ae growing different Asian greens.

          maybe a Russo's or Verill's would sell them?

          The fish in the tanks are usually trucked in.

          1. re: 9lives

            You two might be thinking of Flats Mentor Farm, which is run by Hmong immigrants and produces great SE Asian specialty greens and produce. They sell at a bunch of local farmers' markets - Harvard and Allston are the two I frequent and they're always there, but they might be elsewhere too.

      2. For the prices they charge, I don't think there's any way they can be local or sustainable.

        1. What do you define as 'sustainable' ? Even WF's is not really 'sustainable', just expensive, which is not any indication of sustainability.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ipsofatso

            Right - WF's prices sustain their d-bag CEO's checkbook and yuppie guilt exploitation business plan (one reason why I avoid it like the plague). Related question, has the term "d-bag" jumped the shark yet?

            I will have to explore the greenway stalls, I've seen some interesting greens there - might be some items that fit the bill.

            1. re: nsenada

              In the seafood business as a broad generalization my clients of that persuasion are only concerned about price. Price rules everything in their world.