Happiness is mostly green at Happy More Market
Happy More, one of the islands most popular produce markets, prides itself on having the best locally grown vegetables on Okinawa. Something the market’s creators believe should be the foundation of every person’s healthy lifestyle.
Happy More is located in Shimaji, Ginowan City. Because it’s a bit off the beaten path, the market relies primarily on loyal regulars shopping for their daily vegetables. The market boasts one of the largest selections of organically grown produce on island, which makes it an especially attractive destination for health conscious consumers.
Mr. and Mrs. Tawata founded the market nine years ago, setting up in a vinyl house where their parents had worked previously. Now more than 800 farmers from all over the island have contracts to sell their produce at Happy More.
According to Tawata, many local farmers still wish to partner with Happy More. Interestingly, almost all of the farmers that have contracts with Happy More are not professional farmers growing cash crops. Most of them are small, home gardeners growing vegetables for primarily for personal consumption. Tawata explains, “Because most of the produce is grown for the family or local neighbors, its very fresh and most of it of grown organically. Many small Okinawa farmers don’t use chemicals, not because of business, but because they are concerned for the health of their family and friends.”
Happy More wants each and every customer to know the motivations and passion that farmers put into harvesting fresh, quality produce. The staff has conversations with customers about how the produce is grown, why it was planted and for who, health benefits, and what is the best way to prepare each type of vegetable. For the Tawata’s, this is the most important aspect of their business as they feel such knowledge is important for customers and helps foster a greater appreciation for farmers and locally grown, organic produce. In their mind, they are not the producers, but rather spokesman for the farmers they partner with.
There are a number of farmers who bring their traditional Okinawan vegetables to the market. As Tawata points out, “Because many traditional vegetables grown in Okinawa are not as popular anymore, so there are far less farmers growing the healthier, organic variety. They are increasingly hard to come by in grocery stores. But our farmers grow them for personal use and provide us with a consistent supply. Many of our older customers really value this and it has become something we as a business truly treasure as well.”
Of course, the market receives a large variety of vegetables each day, so no day’s stock is entirely the same. The diversity and uncertainty of what can be found from day to day is also a pleasure for many customers.
Available fresh everyday is a market specialty, the “Happy Smoothie,” a mix of fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs grown in the market’s very own garden. The smoothie contains natural fruit enzymes and is a very popular item with the regulars. The smoothies are so popular, even among foreigners, they often sell out quickly at local flea markets and festivals where Happy More sets up a booth. Tawata believes once you try the smoothie once, you’re certain to become addicted!
In addition to fresh produce and smoothies, the market also sells fresh vegetarian and green curry. The cooks at Happy More cook their dishes with fresh vegetables, ensuring the curry is both delicious and healthy. The green curry, prepared with a base of coconut milk, is perfect for a hot, Okinawan summer day.
Smoothies and curry are available for both dine-in and take-out. Happy More provides a customer point card that earns one point per ¥500 yen, with thirty points earning a free smoothie. Wednesday and Thursday are double point days. The 8th, 18th, and 28th of each month are “Happy Day” with produce sold at a special, discounted price.
Happy More Market
Open: Mon. through Sat. 10:00 – 18:00
Address: 1-247-1 Shimashi, Ginowan. Large free parking lot available.