Goodbye Fruit Farm? The City’s Korean Greengrocers Move On

The national Asian grocer called H Mart got its start as a Korean greengrocer in Queens, according to an article in City Journal.

If you haven’t yet been pointed to an article in the winter issue of City Journal on changes in Korean greengrocers over the past three decades, it’s worth a look. As in so many other niche industries in The City, reports Laura Vanderkam, new immigrants take on jobs in the fields their friends and family members who came before them are in — which for Koreans in the 1970s and 80s was 24-hour produce stands. While the Greeks passed on their diners first to their children and then to new immigrants like Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, who in turn have passed a those diners down to Mexicans; and the Italians passed on their pizza joints after two generations to Albanians, who have since passed them on to still newer immigrant groups, Vanderkam says that Koreans may just be moving out altogether, or in some cases (like the now national chain HMart) upping the ante and making their markets even more upscale.

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Rachel Wharton is the former deputy editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. She won a 2010 James Beard food journalism award, holds a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University, and has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and reporter. A North Carolina native and a former features food reporter for the New York Daily News, she edited the Edible Brooklyn cookbook and was the co-author of both Handheld Pies and DiPalo's Guide to the Essential Foods of Italy. Her work also appears in publications such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Saveur.