In every town, there must be some sort of farmer’s market that opens up once a week in the summer months. We have one in Arlington that runs from about May or June until October on Wednesdays. As wonderful as the idea of a farmer’s market is, I find it to be slightly intimidating.
Today, as I was getting my oil changed, I strolled over to the town center to check out the market. It is slightly chaotic, yet beautiful with the white tents and the bustle of fresh looking fruits, vegetables, and flowers as well as the people who frequent these things. Everyone has some sort of reusable bag (usually from Whole Foods) and either a dog or a child and they are definitely wearing at least one piece of clothing that tells you they somehow belong at a farmer’s market eating, growing, or selling something organic. It’s either the “Such and such town 5K” or the “blah blah blah sponsored Marathon Run” or the tan skin that somehow glows and you know it’s not a fake & bake or a self-tanner.
As I walked around the stands, I tried to look for stuff I could purchase to cook for dinner, but then got strangely afraid as I bought my bunch of basil for $2 and my Italian Sweet Peppers for $.50 a piece. I had this sudden urge to run home, put the basil and peppers to work immediately and figured that I could not buy anything more since I will not be able to put it to use right away. I calmed my irrationality by telling myself that I could refrigerate the peppers for one day and could put the basil in water as soon as I got home for use tomorrow.
It dawned on me why I am not a huge fan of farmer’s markets in reality. In theory, it’s awesome. Locally grown food is great – it helps the local economy and you know they weren’t putting poor workers’ lives in danger by spraying down the containment vehicle with pesticides and whatever else they spray in there. Not to mention, it’s super fresh and truly does taste better. However, it puts a lot of pressure on me. I see the vegetables and the fruit and feel obligated to consume immediately. I also find it scary to be sorting through all the stands and bins and wondering how in the world I’m going to cook this stuff. My mom never went to a farmer’s market. And anything fresh was always some sort of Korean or Asian vegetable spin off that my grandmother made. The farmer’s market is NEW and DIFFERENT, therefore I fear it.
To me, it represents a different kind of thinking and eating. What about the Kraft Cheese slices that come conveniently packaged individually and are a wonderful cheerful orange color? What is this fresh goat cheese business and why must I see a picture of the goat that provided the milk to make the cheese? How will I know if my lactose intolerant body will be able to digest the goat cheese properly? How many calories does it have? Does it need to be pasteurized? Or what about the vegetables – why is the pepper purple? How is that possible? What cross-breeding happened here? Does it taste the same? Will it leave a stain?
This different kind of thinking and eating exists in my head like a movie scene or a fairytale. I envision hopping over to the farmer’s market every afternoon to get the freshest ingredients to prepare a most delicious and healthy meal for my family. How perfect would that be? It would be perfect. Plus, I would do some yoga or something like that in the mornings and have a totally zen life. But seriously, who has time for that? I barely find time to make it to the grocery store a few times a month!
We live in a society where stockpiling food and other items is the way to go – why else would we have kitchens with large pantries & the like? When I lived in New York, I think the idea of the farmer’s market made more sense and was less scary. No one really has cars or space to stockpile food from Costco – you would just go buy stuff that you could cook for the next couple days and they sold it like that. No family size or some gargantuan hunk of anything that you would definitely have to freeze when it’s just you or just the two of you. It is a way of life.
Living in the suburbs has made me soft and scared of the wonderful farmer’s market. I wonder if living on the 4th floor in the city will change that…