To Market, To Market

The Farmers’ Market (and beyond) that is. I love fresh produce especially of the variety that I can’t find at my local grocery store–like tomatoes which have ripened while still attached to the vine and therefore actually taste like tomatoes; small, flavorful strawberries (not the giant, watery variety so common in supermarkets); and summer’s juicy, ripe peaches which got that way still clinging to their respective branches just yesterday.

Not only do I enjoy getting up and spending a little time under the sun on a Saturday morning (even on a drizzly morning like today), I also enjoy the knowledge that I’m helping support our local farmers. I want to do this! And I think more folks should. But this same part of me is in constant battle with the frugal part of me. Back in the day, our little section of Illinois was patchworked with green and golden fields of living veggies. In fact, corn grew directly behind my elementary school not more than a few yards from the playground’s swing set (under which stretched blacktop I might add). There, a farmers’ market or road-side stand was a place we could get excellent produce at an excellent price. The farmer still made a nice profit since he sold directly to folks, like us, who would enjoy the fruits of his labors on their own tables.

In contrast, our local farmers’ market near our current Northern Virginia home is virtually always more expensive than local supermarkets. I don’t mind this one bit for perfectly ripened heirloom tomatoes or those strawberries I mentioned earlier. For yummies like that, there is no comparison. And I like to keep in mind that many but not all (and maybe not even the majority) of our Farmers’ Market farmers avoid pesticides–it’s nice to hear so directly from the farmer’s mouth. But when it comes to the types of produce that are essentially indistinguishable from supermarket varieties I have a hard time paying what is often twice the price.  I really do like supporting local farmers, but I also have a budget.

As I carry my bag of sweet, sunshine warmed peaches I feel pangs of guilt passing lovely Farmers’ Market cucumbers, lettuce, or squash knowing that I’ll likely visit the big, evil supermarket later today and come away with a bag full the same for a fraction of the price. It isn’t that I don’t want to support you Mr. Farmer! I do. And I do. I just like to eat and I need to make sure I stay within my budget so that I can keep doing just that. It’s a yummy balance I can live with for now.

Copyright © 2010 D.L. Kapke


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