The Markets

Shopping a Farmer’s Market is something I’ve been doing since I started caring about where my food came from. Reading books such as Silent Spring, The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved, Grub: Ideas for an Organic Urban Kitchen, Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal and others, planted seeds into the soil of my heart, soil that had been there since picking veggies from my own family’s big garden each summer. I was raised planting seeds, picking rocks, pulling fresh carrots and routing ruby raspberries straight from the cane in the garden tended, during their off-work hours, by my parents, whose own beginnings were very much tied to the soil. We were lucky to have five acres in what would soon become heavily-housed suburbia. I miss this mecca now four years gone, but my memories are deep.

Learning the hard truths of our food system would often leave me frustrated and distraught. Helpless to fix the big problems, I knew I could head out early Saturday morning and vote with my dollars. I, sometimes with Spouse and Jr, sometimes with my sister and nieces, sometimes all of us would pile into the car and drive the fifteen minutes to Seattle’s University District Farmer’s Market. What a jewel. Meat from cared-for animals who only knew “one bad day” as Michael Pollan put it, tables of asparagus, lettuces, tomatoes, the berries and peppers and potatoes, the stone fruits at perfect ripeness, all just a reasonable truck-ride away from their homes, sold by smiling folks, happy to talk about their processes, their fields or orchards, making a living, a hard living, bringing beautiful, real, food to me. These were truly some of the happiest days.

When I began teaching more weekend classes, my schedule didn’t allow for weekend markets. I was able to frequent some of those on weekdays, but life kept shifting. School and work and my sister’s cancer had me drifting away from any regular routine. The co-op took the Market’s place, though only a poor second. Don’t misunderstand, I love co-ops as much as Farmer’s Markets, I belong to four of them, but the connection isn’t the same.

Now I am a Farmer’s Market vendor. I take this practice to heart. I want to bake the best that I can, using the best ingredients I can swing, harvesting wild yeasts, supporting the farmer’s who grow the fantastic grain, grain turned to flour by a revolutionary mill, all for bread and scones and other sweets. The ingredients, the time, the energy, yes, the muscle I submit to my product might seem frivolous on the world’s stage, but I know I am supplying something unique, something real, something that really shouldn’t be microwaved. I get to aid in the direct support of 2 other humans. I get to interact with so many people, people like M who “paid it forward” last week when a customer’s card wouldn’t complete processing due to faulty T-Mobile connections in the rain-soaked Market parking lot. People who are gems, people I probably would have no other reason to chat with. People like Brooke and Vivian and Liz and Alexis and Aditi and Hannah, Matt and Sundee, and so many more whose names I’ve yet to learn. Even when I’ve pulled my fortieth cast iron Dutchoven, my arms tired, my back whispering threats, even when unloading and packing back up in the rain, I am lucky. Blessed and lucky.

My sister would have loved coming and visiting me while she shopped the other stalls. She would have loved meeting those I’m getting to know. Next time you’re at a market, talk to the vendors about their product, their produce, their practice. Find out their names. Support these unsung heroes bringing you locally grown, locally produced goods, however you can. We thank you!

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