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Why I dig the farmers market

Posted on Aug 25, 2013 by in Blog in Pics, Community, Featured | 2 comments

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The first scent that registers in my brain is that of popcorn. Warm, sweet, sugary kettle corn being shoveled into tall plastic bags by a tall man behind a tall screen, whistling as he hands the bag to a smiling, giggling child. He is whistling a happy tune and bouncing around in his popcorn tent as local residents pass by; “That smells so good,” they chirp.

My eyes land on a spread of small dark green peppers, mammoth green and yellow summer squash, purple edible flowers scattered among dark leafy greens, and an array of enormous red, yellow, and orange heirloom tomatoes weighing in at over a pound each. I’ve never seen the peppers before, but there’s a small, handwritten sign telling me how to prepare them so I snag a basket. Though I’ve never tried them, I pick up a handful of zucchini blossoms too, with plans to saute them in butter.

A young man with a bowl of chopped peaches offers me a sample and I gladly accept. The summer fruit is so sweet I can’t help but collect an armful. The dollar amount is uneven, so he tells me to call it even at $7 if I grab one more on my way out.

Just a few yards away, a young girl offers me a taste of a nectarine. Again I accept, but upon noticing the absence of an organic sign I begin asking questions. I make eye contact with a woman on the other side of the table and I ask her what sorts of chemicals or pesticides they use. She tells me that to be certified organic, a farm must be chemical-free for several years; her farm is in the process of becoming certified organic but they have three years to go. They haven’t used chemical pesticides or fertilizers in a couple years, so I support their effort and make a purchase.

By the time I make it to the egg tent, my canvas bag is nearly overflowing with fresh produce. I’ve come later in the day this week and the organic cage-free eggs are sold out.
“We have the pastured and regular, both are cage-free.”
I don’t know what the difference is, so I ask the better choice.
“The pastured eggs – the chickens eat grass and bugs, that’s it. Those eggs are more expensive. The regular eggs, those chickens eat a commercial feed made from wheat, soy and corn. So it depends on what you want.”

This is why I love shopping at the farmers market. Not only am I more in touch with the seasons, but I am able to ask questions that would be otherwise left unanswered had I bought those same items at a supermarket. I envy the homeowners whose backyard fruit tree branches are heavy with fresh fruit, whose rows of strawberries and homegrown zucchini are fresh for the picking. I am inspired to start my own garden – one that is larger and more inclusive than my small apartment patio garden consisting of six brave basil plants and one potted chive plant – to bring the concept of “from farm to table” even closer to home.

I choose the pricier eggs and headed home, satisfied.

Do you have a home garden or backyard fruit trees? What do you grow, and what do you do with the extras?

If your fruit tree is producing more fruit than you can handle, consider registering with The Urban Farmers. Your excess fruit can help alleviate hunger in our community! You can also volunteer to participate in a harvest.

2 Comments

  1. This is a great piece! Makes me hungry:)

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