Spring is here and with the rains comes my anticipation to visit the various Farmers Markets in my area. I throw my backpack on, grab my bike and head out. At the moment there are 3 markets in my area. Each one has it’s nuances. They all have different farmers. I like to chat with the farmers and get to know them. The have some interesting insights on how to best use and cook their produce or meats.
I have become a regular at these markets and I look forward to chatting with them. You do have to be careful though. Last summer a new farmer appeared at one of the markets. They had a very large display with lots of fruits and vegetables. Everything looked very good. I truly enjoy all the colors of all the different produce and the smells that accompany them. So I did my usual stroll up to the stand and welcomed them to the market and started a conversation. Most farmers I have spoken with are very proud of their farms. They tell you exactly where they are located. They tell how long they have been farming and most if not all tell you how much they love it. These people, however, were very elusive. They deflected questions as to the location of their farm. They excused themselves when asked about the longevity of their farm. So, I stopped my attempts at conversation and concentrated on the produce. Who knows, “I thought, they may be just very private people”, giving them the benefit of the doubt. The produce looked fresh and bright. It smelled good. I noticed something on all their vegetables. There were tags on them. Most farmers will not use bar codes or pre-printed labels. Most are hand written if they have them at all. Upon closer inspection, I recognized the labels were from a local grocery chain. Some more inspection of the fruit and the same type of labels. It appeared that they went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of produce and are re-selling them at the farmers market. An opportunity, perhaps. Resourcefulness, definitely. Just not something I agree with.
I go to these markets for a number of reasons. I enjoy my Saturday morning ritual outing to these markets. It makes me feel like I am going to visit friends. I also want to patronize my own local community. How else does your community grow. Sometimes the produce and meat are slightly more expensive but that’s okay. I know I am helping a local family put food on their table ( shameful pun 🙂 ). If I want to buy my produce from a local grocery chain, I would go to the store. I expect farmers markets to be just that, farmers selling their hard work. They’re not selling produce that has been trucked and transported from around the world. It was picked by hand and brought to this market from just a short distance away.
Until next time. Keep smiling and set another place at the table.