This morning at 5am (briefly after the crack of dawn), I set off to the border of Chelsea and Everett to the Boston Terminal Market. Definitionally, a terminal market is a central point for assembly and trade of commodities. In the case for Boston, this one predominantly deals with fresh produce. Basically it's where truckloads of fresh produce arrives from Mexico, Florida, and other warmer places and where it's cleaned, packed, and shipped off to local supermarkets, north to Canada, and other markets, restaurants, or venues in the immediate and not so immediate areas. Heads up, anyone can come in here and get their food wholesale if they wanted to!
There, we sat in with a USDA representative who schooled us on market prices and trends for produce. I don't think I've ever met a government worker more passionate about his job. We then had the opportunity to walk through the market, but because it was already 9am, most of the rush already died down. We first visited a tomato business who imports most of their varieties from Florida or south of the border. Once it reaches Boston, they refrigerate them, clean them, sort them by size and color, and box them for delivery. The celery processing business we visited after was similar, but there's a lot more to be done with celery before you see them the way they do in your assorted veggie dip plates. It's a combination assembly line of mechanical and physical washing, cutting, sorting, and packing. I honestly do not know how these people do it day in and day out and how food can still cost so little (well, I do, but let's not get into it...), so next time you eat a vegetable, just try to reflect upon how many hands have come across it before yours!
Boston Terminal Market
34 Market Street
Everett, MA 02149