First Farmer’s Market Day, 2011

There are a lot of “Farmer’s Markets” around these days. I put the words in quotes because not all “Farmer’s Markets” are really Farmer’s Markets. To my mind, a true Farmer’s Market only allows local farmers and food artisans (cheesemakers, bakers, etc.) to sell food grown or produced locally.

So if you live in the Midwest and go to the market in early Spring to find acorn squash, corn, and tomatoes, you know you’ve stumbled on a “Farmer’s Market”. Get back in the car (or better yet on your bike) and move on.

You might think that given these strictures there wouldn’t be anything at the Farmer’s Market this early in the year. To which I would respond, have a look at this:

Sure, it’s not the same bounty I would come home with in mid-Summer, but that’s the beauty of the Farmer’s Market. What’s fresh is what you get. Now don’t get me wrong. Despite my own ideals, I’m far from a locavore. I do most of my shopping at the local supersized supermarket, and I buy what I want when I want it. But I am becoming more aware of the impact of my decisions, both on the environment (do I really need strawberries in February?) and, more to the point, on my and my family’s health.

So what am I going to do about it? Well, for starters I’m going to do more of my shopping at places like the Countryside Conservancy Farmer’s Market, where I can shake the hand and look into the eyes of the men and women who grow my food. I talked to several of them today, and they all invited us to visit their farms to see how they operate and where our food comes from.

I’m going to take the kids on several farm outings this year. Having grown up in Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I know what a farm looks, sounds, and smells like and how sustainable farmers (the Amish were green before green was in vogue) grow food. But to my kids, a chicken is something you buy in a package at the store, cleaned, cut up, and not in any way resembling a living creature. I feel like I owe it to them to teach them how this whole food chain, circle of life thing really works — blood, guts, and all.

And I guess it’s time I finally read The Omnivore’s Dilemma. As I understand it, this book is not an in-your-face, Upton Sinclair, scare the crap out of you so you never want to eat a burger again food industry expose. Rather, it’s a well-written, no-nonsense, approachable discussion about how we interact with what we eat and how our food sourcing decisions impact our health and the health of our planet.

And finally, when I do go to the mega-supermart, I’ll pay more attention to what I am buying, where it comes from, and how it was produced. I don’t promise to give up bananas, but I will plan my menu around what’s in season. And I’ll do my best to cut unnecessary chemicals out of my family’s diet.

“Hi, I’m Phyl. And I’m an omnivore,…”

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8 Comments

  1. Kayte said,

    May 22, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Great post. Nice to point out the differences between a true farmer’s market and a pseudo one…lol. So many people post their haul each week from their boxes and trips to the markets…love those posts and a great way to advertise for the markets and co-ops as well as inspire participation by the rest of us. Your haul this week inspiring indeed.

    • gaaarp said,

      May 22, 2011 at 9:33 pm

      Thanks. The radishes are so good, I can’t stop eating them. I still have to decide what to do with the beets. May make red beet eggs, as I picked up some beautiful eggs, too.

  2. teaandscones said,

    May 22, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    At this point I would appreciate ANY Farmer’s Market since there are none within a two hour drive. Looks like a great haul.

    • gaaarp said,

      May 22, 2011 at 9:31 pm

      That must be tough. I don’t know what I’d do without farmer’s markets and local food stands in the Summer.

  3. Abby said,

    May 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I really enjoyed this post, Phyl. I’ve been thinking about this so much more in the past year…Finally bit the bullet and bought into a CSA this year…hoping we can take the kids for visits…Trying to buy a lot from the little guy’s preschool, too (a nature center with a working farm). Thinking more about what we eat seems like something we could all start doing a little more, huh? Maybe we should all get a Farmers Market cookbook for our next challenge? 😉

    • gaaarp said,

      May 21, 2011 at 9:27 pm

      Sounds like a great plan! One of the farms I want to take the girls to this
      summer is a buffalo ranch. I think that would be so cool.

      I hope the post didn’t sound too preachy. I was mostly talking to myself. Anyway, glad you enjoyed it. Have you read Omnivore’s Dilemma? Maybe an online book club is in order.

  4. allifer said,

    May 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Very thoughtful approach today, Phyl. I look forward to reading about your adventures in Farmers Markets as the season progresses. Buying from my farm co-op weekly for nearly three years has definitely changed the way I cook. I’ve used more radishes and other roots than I ever thought possible!

    • gaaarp said,

      May 21, 2011 at 9:25 pm

      Thanks. I missed out on the local poultry farm CSA this year, but I’m going to sign up for next year. We split a produce CSA with two other friends one year. It was fun getting different stuff every week, but it was hard to split three ways.


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