I generally spend between $10 – $15 at the farmer’s market on Saturdays and bring home 2 dozen free-range eggs, salad greens, green/wax beans, bell peppers, hot peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini.
Bought an eggplant once with every intention of facing my aversion head on.
It ended up in the garbage at the end of the week.
This week I picked up my eggs from the Stotz Farms lady, a basket of tomatoes, a single head of garlic and a container of granola from The Primitive Roost. Came home with fewer goods than usual but spent the same amount. I pondered this off and on throughout the day, wondering, “What did I actually buy?” And it sounds corny (ha ha, vegetable pun) but I started to realize that it wasn’t so much what I put in my bags and brought home as it was what I had PARTICIPATED in. The exchange taking place was more than just money for food.
I returned 2 empty egg cartons to save some landfill space, learned about blue chicken eggs, and helped one of my local farms sustain itself for $5.00.
I watched a man’s face light up when I asked about the difference between some of his tomatoes. He proudly spoke of his harvest and what the different varieties were called. He had a couple piles of garlic, one tantalizingly labeled ‘Hungarian garlic’, which he informed was spicy (oh yeah, baby.) He had the opportunity to show off his hard work and I got an education not found in the supermarket for $4.50.
Probably my favorite was a stand I always walk right past because it sells (along with really COOL rustic home goods) granola and other pre-made foods while I’m only shopping for veggies. Since I wasn’t in need of any more produce, I browsed the table and a young boy popped up out of nowhere, asking if I wanted a sample. I didn’t have the heart to tell him no (because of the fact that there will probably be sugar in it), so I took one. He told me the difference between the two mixes and I paid $6 for a container of granola that I can’t even eat. He competently handled the entire transaction from start to finish. He’s gaining self-esteem, practicing life skills, and learning proper work ethics with my $6.
This is why, lately, I’ve been making as many of my purchases from local vendors as possible. I’m getting so much more with my dollar than I am in the supermarket where the produce employee has limited knowledge of where their tomatoes came from.
Supermarkets are amazing, don’t misunderstand me. The sheer amount of product dazzles me and I’ll never take for granted the accessibility to food that I have. They employ my community members, giving them the opportunity to support their families and contribute to our economy. However, when given the choice between purchasing a machine-boxed food or a locally produced product with a face behind it, I’ll gladly hand my money over to the latter.
(Hey local folks, if you didn’t know, the Monroe Farmer’s Market is a happening place Saturday mornings. If you’re sleeping till noon you are missing out.)