The farmer’s market is something that I look forward to every week. It has not only become a simple pleasure, but also a necessity for me; something that I rely on for procuring my weekly fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers. When you are gluten free and vegetarian, vegetables are a necessity! Reading “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan was the catalyst that began my diet transformation. In this book, he argues that how we eat determines, not only our health, but also how we want the world to be. The typical American eats at least 3 times/day and is therefore spending money on food at least 3 times per day, per person, on average. How we buy our food matters and the fact that we spend money on food daily gives us an enormous amount of power in determining how we want our food produced. The increase of gluten free options and organic selections are evidence that consumers have power to change the system and selection of food available. Michael Pollan explains that every dollar we spend as consumers counts a a vote for how we want the world to be. The more we spend money on organic produce, the more the industry will put into producing food organically. Simple supply and demand. The more we support local, organic farmers, the more likely these farmers are to stay in business. What we spend our money on matters!
Michael Pollan also argues that transparency is crucial in transforming the food industry. In a standard supermarket, the farmer is left out of the interaction, and thus transparency is impossible. Accountability is also much less likely to be present in the interaction between you and the corporate grocery store. However, when you take the middle man out and have a real face-to-face interaction with the farmer who grew the produce you’re buying, you can ask questions like “do you use pesticides on your produce” “how do I cook this squash”, “how do I know when a peach is ripe” “what is this odd looking edible plant” (because you will surely see produce at a farmer’s market that you’ve never seen in a grocery store before. You are able to give your money directly to the person/farm that grew your produce and they are able to put a face to their customers, increasing the farmer’s sense of accountability. At a farmers market, suddenly, food gets personal. It becomes an aesthetic, sensory, personal experience. You are able to smell the produce, speak to, and ask questions of the farmers, listen to the local blue grass band that plays live during the market, and give your money to the person who actually grows your produce. It’s romantic, idealistic, and reconnects you with the process of buying food for you and your family. This process is something that our culture has become disconnected with.
Matt and I have built relationships with some of the farmers. We have our favorite stands/farms and often, vendors will remember if we’ve missed the week before. We have learned how to cook new produce like acorn squash and how to tell if a peach is ripe thanks to the farmers sharing their knowledge with us. Also, it’s just a great place to get kick-ass deals! We can buy organic produce for half of what it would cost us at Whole Foods and have a good time while doing it. The produce is local, and therefore seasonal, picked when at its peak, and very high-quality. I couldn’t imagine buying my flowers anywhere else, and I feel good knowing that I am spending my money supporting a philosophy that I believe in! Often the markets will include ready-made food stands from local restaurants, or coffee. I love to get a bag of kettle corn for dessert or a cup of coffee at the morning markets.
Life is a process, so you may as well enjoy every part you can. My simple pleasure for the week is the farmers market because it allows me to get great deals, make my dollar stand for something that I believe in, and enjoy the process of buying fruit, herbs, veggies and flowers for the week.