In a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, “The Dutch Way – Bicycles and Fresh Bread,” Russell Shorto, an American writer who has been living in Amsterdam for several years, contrasts car-centric culture in the U.S. with a European mindset that “hard wires” transportation alternatives into its culture. As part of his comparison, the author sheds light on the connection between using bicycles for daily transportation in the Netherlands and eating fresher, more healthful food:
“Cyclists can’t carry six bags of groceries; bulk buying is almost nonexistent. Instead of shopping for a week, people stop at the market daily. So the need for processed loaves that will last for days is gone. A result: good bread.”
Shorto’s observations were on my mind when my son and I shopped Amsterdam’s Noordermarkt, one among many neighborhood green markets, the way the Dutch do — by bicycle. In Amsterdam, a network of 249 miles of bike lanes and paths supports accomplishing daily routines, including food-shopping, on two wheels.
On Saturdays, the historic Noordermarkt, situated on a cafe-lined square in the Jordaan district and bordering the Prinsengracht canal, offers a combination of organic farm produce and flea-market finds. From the bustling stalls in the shadow of the Noorderkek church, we bought cheeses, basil, pink-fleshed trout, tomatoes and slices of pear tart, then slung our bags over our shoulders for a leisurely ride home along the canals.
Here are some photos from the market, bursting that morning with summer color, flavor, and fragrance. P.S. There was no shortage of good bread.