As a gardener I love to watch my plants grow and I gain great pleasure in bringing in a bouquet of fresh flowers or slicing a juicy tomato picked right out of my garden. I get a similar satisfaction from visiting my neighborhood farmer's market. Each Saturday morning I head downtown to pick up locally grown vegetables, fresh eggs, home made bread, herbs and even fresh cut flowers. There are several reasons why I choose to patronize the farmer's market.
The variety, freshness, and value of locally grown produce. At the farmer's market I can find unique varieties of fruits and vegetables such as Indian peaches, 'Silver Queen' corn or rattlesnake beans. I love the selection of potatoes available to me - 'Yukon Gold', 'All Blue' and 'Baby' to name a few. And the price! I can get a pound of tomatoes for one dollar, fresh organic eggs for two dollars and enough chives to make omelets for a month for just fifty cents.
I really enjoy eating food that is in season. It is such a joy to come home with fresh blueberries for muffins or tasty tomatoes for a BLT sandwich. I often create my meal plans based on what is available. There is something about eating food that is in season that makes me feel more in tune with nature. Call me crazy but an apple in May just isn't as good as a fresh picked apple in October.
Shopping at the farmer's market is a community event. I feel so much a part of my neighborhood after having spent the morning browsing through the open-air displays. I get to say hello to friends and neighbors and build relationships with the farmers growing my food. This way I know as much about how the food I eat is produced as I would if I grew it in my own vegetable garden.
Which brings me to the larger issue to consider - supporting local farmers. With the corporate agriculture business continuing to expand I feel it is important to send my dollars toward these people with whom I have built relationships over the years. This my vote of confidence for family owned, self-sustaining farms. By literally "putting my money where my mouth is" I can help bring some balance to the unfortunate path toward industrialized agriculture that we are currently on.
In my own garden I have a symbiotic relationship with Mother Nature, working with her rather than trying to control her. By shopping at my local farmer's market I can expand this relationship to incorporate not just my little patch of green, but also the larger expanse of green beyond.