When we were kids … here we go again, waxing nostalgic … a Farmer’s Market was just that. But not any more … not if you go where our Ranter-in-Residence Carrier Slocomb goes.
Say it ain’t so. Tell me I’m moving forward in this new millennium -– that I still see the big picture for what it is, digital, and not some dog-eared Polaroid from back in the day!
What’s my complaint? Farmers’ Markets -– how they’ve morphed from convenient roadside stands into ‘Boutique Marts.’
Farmers’ Markets have been around for years; you probably have one in your area, but would you say you’re loyal to it? That you shop there because it’s an important alternative to grocery store food for you?
There are Farmers’ Markets in most major towns around where Caroline and I live. Even our neighbor city, Washington DC, has one, and it’s been blessed by nothing less than the White House.
Why have them? Is it to meet our local growers, sample their produce, and hope for something organic? Maybe they’re part-time farmers thinking of leaping into farming full-time, or you’ve seen their cheese on a taste-table at the health food co-op?
Okay, here are some more specific complaints: 1) Why do Farmers’ Markets run just four hours weekly, and 2) Why are their prices so high? Aren’t they supposed to be a vast improvement on the old road-side stand?
In my opinion they aren’t, yet we don’t know why. Caroline and I just returned from Amish country. You know the Amish, they make great farmers. Technologically, they’re tied to an earlier century; their Christian beliefs forbid them from “becoming too much of this world,” surely a great challenge when so much of our world whizzes by them in air-conditioned comfort.
Nevertheless, the Amish excel in one huge area -– growing — and selling delicious food on their farms.
Our little county has farms everywhere, but very few farm stands. Maybe in our ‘un-Amish’ rush to get ahead, farmers have forgotten what they excelled at and began selling food, although not as food but as products. In Amish land, most every farm sells food straight from the barns. Follow signs updriveways and you’ll discover low-priced produce, eggs, jams, root beer, and warm fluffy baked goods. You won’t make it home with your cooler lid down.
This begs the question: why don’t our farms feed us seven days a week instead of just one afternoon? We don’t go to the Farmers’ Market to sample candle aromas, to sign petitions, or to support some scout troop. We go to buy fresh local corn, zucchini, tomatoes, apples, and warm pies at prices convenient to our wallets. Seems farmers around here forgot that.
Ahem, let’s be frank, sir. Your eggs are not gold nuggets, they’re eggs, and homemade soap for $6 a bar? Whose kitchen sink was it made in, the Queen of England’s? Farmers’ Markets go against all road-side stand common sense when they price goods high and only open infrequently.
Farmers forget that we must eat more than one day a week; that we like our produce picked daily and without the frills that drive prices up. You know, Farmers’ Markets could learn a bushel’s worth from Amish farm stands, and we could all eat a whole lot better than we do.
Carrier lives in rural Maryland.