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Boulder County Farmers Markets: At the Market: Meet the Market — Phil Chang, Online Marketplace co-manager

Phil Chang brings passion to the realm of local food that he developed early in his childhood. (Boulder County Farmers Markets / Courtesy Photo)
Phil Chang brings passion to the realm of local food that he developed early in his childhood. (Boulder County Farmers Markets / Courtesy Photo)
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Boulder County Farmers Markets

Phil Chang, an irreplaceable member of our BCFM team, brings a whole lot of heart and inspiration to our team, inspired by his trips to local markets when he visited Taiwan with his family. He co-manages our Online Marketplace operations, giving farmers a year-round sales outlet and customers more opportunities to shop local.

Chang is also a constant source of recipe inspiration and humorous emails — and for that (and much more) we greatly appreciate him. His inspiration for doing this kind of work is just one of the many stories of community connection in our local food sphere, so we wanted to share his interview with us with the community.

BCFM: What drew you to working in local food?

Chang: Every time I enter the supermarket, I’m greeted with mounds of the same cloned banana proudly presented, despite the absence of a banana tree in over a thousand miles. An immaculate array of glossy, Red Delicious apples glares deep into my skull, blinding me with the reflection from the fluorescent lighting — “Who still eats these?”

I become jaded by the monotony of the same items month after month, and out of touch with the seasonality of produce. It isolates me from the community that I exist in, it suppresses the development of food culture on a local level, and it limits my culinary creativity.

It’s a gratifying feeling knowing the food I’m purchasing was produced by the people who live in my neighborhood — honest people who are making sure I am getting the most flavorful heirloom tomatoes, the creamiest ice cream made from local dairy, and the brightest banh mi that shares an immigrant story.

Not only does local food connect you to the farmers and their fresh produce, but it also connects you to the people in your community who are underappreciated and underrepresented.

Why did you want to work for BCFM? 

As a Taiwanese American child, my family would visit Taiwan on a biannual basis. Every morning, we would walk to the streetside market and buy our produce for the day. Standing in a pothole as wide as I was tall, picking the perfect bunch of water spinach, the most vibrant lychees and the sweetest pineapple while scooters whizzed by, honking six inches behind me — my senses were assaulted in the best possible way.

The xiao jie on the opposite side of the wax apples was always jovial and smiling, even while standing in 90-degree heat and what felt like a swimming pool that you could never find the ladder for. She always took the time to make small talk and help us choose the ripest piece of fruit.

In the evenings we would retrace our steps to the market, except when we arrived the produce was gone. The bitter melon, the mangoes, the atemoyas, xiao jie’s smiling face — nowhere to be found. In their place were sizzling hot griddles, vats of bubbling soups and open-flame grills.

It was time for the night market, where the food stalls were limitless. Everything from crispy, flaky scallion pancakes to small-sausage-in-large-sausage, the more you browsed, the more you wanted to eat, and the next stall always had something more enticing than the last.

I want to help recapture the emotions of curiosity, adventure and exhilaration I feel while perusing the markets of Taiwan — but for the Boulder County community. It brings me great joy to see full tummies and smiling faces, and as a part of BCFM — a pillar of the community — it gives me the platform to nourish the people around me and to extend my hand to those who have been waiting for it.

What’s your favorite item at the market?

MASA’s red bunching onions. I am getting a tattoo of them next week.

To honor our Online Marketplace hero himself, we’d recommend checking out our BCFM Online Marketplace for as many ingredients as possible for the following recipe. Order online and maybe you’ll see Chang at pickup. Or visit the Boulder Wednesday market from 4 to 8 p.m. and you might just find Chang with a drink in the beer garden!

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