I love farmers markets. Even my cat, as you can plainly see, loves farmers markets. (The only way we could get her off the table is by giving her a piece of lettuce to chew on.) I’ve been lucky enough to live in cities that host some pretty special ones. In New York, the Union Square market was the one place you could inhale fresh air. The Hollywood market, if your car wasn’t being towed because they suddenly decide it’s time to clear the streets for a certain awards show (long story), was where you could stock up on avocados and listen to the crazy Asian man singing anti-establishment songs and bump into the Beastie Boy you didn’t bump into while in New York. And the Saturday Portland park block market is where you fill bag upon bag with lush green things for a fraction of what you’d pay at one of the more upscale, natural grocery stores.
As I look at this bounty I picked up last weekend, I remember how excited we were finding chard the length of your arm, five bunches of pristine basil for the price of four, and garlic from that guy who sells the really great garlic. And we only paid about $30 for it all. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. That sounds kind of expensive now. I’m serious; I don’t know now if that’s a good deal. I know I’ll use all this stuff to make delicious, nutritious food. Plus, it will last all week because it’s so friggin’ fresh. Plus, it goes right into the pocket of the farmer, not a grocery store CEO. But it still costs a lot more than what many people would pay. And what many people could pay.
I have to believe that supporting a local farm pays me back in more ways than saving some cash would. If my food dollars are going to a company and its employees who pays state taxes, I reap those benefits. Those employees then further feed my local economy by living and consuming in it. Also, if I eat fresh, colorful food, I get those nutrients rather than chemicals and sad, depleted foodstuff—that means a healthier me, maybe not needing so much medical care. And it’s a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning, if you ask me.
Still, one day—hopefully soon—the dream garden will happen. I’m not so much a dream house kind of gal, but a dream garden…well, if I were a boy I might be looking for a pillow to put over my lap area, lest I embarrass myself in front of the ladyfolk. I would love to grow “too many” tomatoes, being forced to spend evenings making then canning sauce. I’d wake up with the sun to snip off a few zucchini blossoms, which I would lightly pan-fry for lunch. We could finally use the grab-bag pepper seed collection, a jar Tom’s been keeping the dried seeds of every organic pepper we use, from cherry bombs to anaheims to purple bells. And my own fresh garlic, are you kidding me?
I guess the extra money we spend on produce now will be balanced out eventually. I’m not going to worry about it. I’m going to sit down, put on my rubber gloves, and make a gallon of salsa with my latest pepper haul—saving some seeds, of course.