Rituals have great power, but some more than others. For me, going to the Farmers Market has become a ritual that is almost as important as the food I buy there. So I spent some time this morning pondering why…
It’s outside. Sun, clouds, breeze. Sometimes a little cool, sometimes too hot… but always the season that matches the fruits and vegetables being sold that day.
There is music. And dancing… people dancing with children, children dancing alone, folks dancing in their wheelchairs.
Everyone is happy. Seriously. Not a dour face anywhere!
There is delight in the colors, odors, and tastes.. It’s beautiful… and that sensual beauty evokes all kinds of good emotions – delight, joy, and even awe.
It anchors you to the season. We don’t have peaches in January at the farmer’s market. So when they show up in May it’s a day of celebration! Eating what is being grown in the season keeps you somehow anchored to life around you and, according to some traditions, is better for your body. It’s certainly better for the planet, since this is food grown within miles of where it’s sold… not half way across the world.
You develop relationships with the people that grow your food. Lisa’s new tortoise gets a spectacular salad every day, so we chat about his salads and her goats. I get to practice my French with the Congolese farmers who grow their produce on an inner city farm developed to provide new refugees a place to farm. Some of the vendors know my name, most of them know and recognize me with a smile (even if they don’t know my name), and all of them are happy to share how to prepare their food and what’s happening on the farm.
And then there is the food. There is no question it’s often (but not universally!) more expensive to buy your food at the farmer’s market, but for the reasons above it’s worth it. But there is one other reason … which is probably the most important reason of all.
One of the very first times I went to a farmer’s market, I bought potatoes. I remember distinctly thinking that it would not be worth the extra money because “it’s just a potato”… but I did it anyway. Every potato I had ever bought in a store tasted the same as every other potato … so I didn’t expect these to be any different. Wow… I was SO wrong. A potato that has been pulled out of the ground the day before you cook it is absolutely amazing. A light went on. Fresh food raised in smaller quantities by people who are devoted to doing it tastes better. It just does.
Plant It Forward CSA shares ready to be picked up
There is most likely a farmer’s market near you if you live in a city, but if there isn’t you have a other options (The USDA Local Foods Directory is a wonderful way to find farmers markets, gardens, and local farms near you if you need help. )
CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). Google “CSA’s near me” to find farms that make up boxes with small portions of anything they are harvesting that week to distribute to people who have signed up with them.
Community Gardens. If you love to garden (and you can spare a few hours every once in a while) you might want to actively participate – it’s also pretty soul soothing to dig in the dirt and grow your own tomatoes. But it’s also worth asking if you can buy any produce that isn’t otherwise promised.
A local farmer or neighbor who has a big garden. You don’t know unless you ask. Offering to buy some of their produce might end up being a win-win. They may have too much produce, need a little extra income, or both. And you end up with fresh produce and a relationship with the person who grows it!