FEEDING THE CITY

4

FEEDINGTHE CITY

Citiesdo not produce agricultural products, and they rely on the yieldsfrom rural areas. The development of trade in various part of theworld opened the urban markets that attracted merchants dealing withassorted agricultural and industrial products. Salvador in Brazilcommonly referred to Bahia was a model city that had a conduciveenvironment for business people in the eighteenth century. Itslocation on the east coast of Bahia province made it a remarkableentry in the South Atlantic.1The city brought together boatmen, cattle dealers, importers, blacks,mulattos, ex-slaves, butchers, grocers and other traders. Theactivities of the merchants instigated the progression of the city’ssocial order, practices and ideology as a result of the measuresmeant to control their activities in their respective occupations.

Tounderstand the contribution of the different business stakeholders inSalvador, it is noteworthy to point out the food trends that wereadopted by the residents. The locals’ diet consisted of maniocmeal, vegetables, fruits and meat. The cattle dealers drove theanimals into the city while the vegetables were sourced from therural areas.2 Those who led luxurious lives could afford wine, olive oil, beer,cheese and wheat flour from oversea countries.

Thetraders defined the city’s order through their interactions. Theanimal sellers, street vendors, sailors, the free slaves, blacks andothers were well connected, and they formed important links thatensured each part of the city was served.3The vertical and horizontal communication became strong andestablished a mutually conceived existence.

Thegrain sellers conducted their business at Salvador’s bay through aninstituted local bureaucracy. The association led to the creation ofalliances that elicited a common market practice. Although the authornotes that the merchants could offer low-quality goods, they wereinstrumental in curbing hunger in times of shortage.4The low-income earners procured the items at convenient prices. Thevendors formed the core of food distribution in the city since thefinal consumers could not access the bay to procure the food onretail. They bought the foods from wholesalers who had boats and hadenough resources to abide by the bureaucracies set by the alliedmerchants.5

Theanimal merchants supplied animals to the butchers. In the eighteenthcentury, the city consumed about 300 heads of cattle that came fromthe Northern provinces. The traders formed a link between theprovinces and the urban areas. Every Wednesday, butchers would buyanimals in the fair that attracted parties from both the town and theneighboring villages.6 The participants in this market helped in providing the dominantsource of protein as well as creating a streamlined market control.

ThePortuguese introduced imports in the city through the bay. Thelocation of the town on the coast made it an effective entry pointfor merchant ships ferrying valuable products. Wholesalers would waitfor the vessels to dock and procure the imports and later sell themto the residents. The Portuguese contributed in pronouncing thesocial stratification by providing ostentatious goods.7On the other hand, they intensified the preference for the exoticproducts among the merchants in the city making the locality have asignificant impact on the international market.

Anotherimportant market practice took place in the sea. A group consistingof sailors, captains, boat owners and slaves emerged to be known as“People of the Sea.” They ferried products from the small harborsto the city.8By 1856, the number of sea workers had increased to 8,500. Theofficials appointed by the governor could not sufficiently performthe role since their authority was limited. The idea of constitutinga navy was conceived because of the intense sea activity.

Inconclusion, the actions of the business parties helped to forge thecity’s social order, practices, and philosophy as a result of thepractices meant to control their activities in the sea, bay and thestreets. The traders created a link between the interior provincesand the coastal city. The Portuguese brought exotic products andexpanded their consumption in the region. The increased number of seaworkers prompted the authorities to conceive the idea of establishinga navy to control the movement of goods into the city. The tradeactivities instigated the development of social and economic systemsthat saw the city achieve a holistic development.

Bibliography

Graham,Richard. Feedingthe city: From street market to liberal reform in Salvador, Brazil,1780–1860.Austin TX: University of Texas Press, 2010.

1 Richard Graham, Feeding the City: From Street Market to Liberal Reform in Salvador, Brazil, 1780-1860 (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2010), 2.

2 Ibid., 2

3 Ibid., 3

4 Ibid., 98

5 Ibid., 101

6 Ibid., 113

7 Ibid., 88

8 Ibid., 78