Thursday, September 10, 2009

Farmers Market Thursday's

The town I live in hosts a farmers market every Thursday of the year (excluding the week of the County Fair and any holidays falling on or near a Thursday). I have been attending the market since I was about 5 years old, the year it opened. Local farmers and crafters gather to sell their wares to appreciative crowds. One can get farm fresh eggs, cider, apples, cheese, gourmet popcorn, vegetables, meats, Watkins products, crafts, handmade soap, organic garlic and lavender, handmade bird houses, fresh and smoked fish, garden plants, hand thrown pottery and in the summer, gelato. The local Association for Community Living hosts a lunch counter where one can get a refreshing drink and a quick bite to eat. Every month, patrons can enter in to a draw to win a hamper of fresh market produce. I hope this is my month to win!!

The vendors are always friendly and greet customers with genuine smiles. They often know their regulars by name and know what you want before you ask! My favourite butcher always has a free piece of bologna for my son, who looks forward to his treat all week. This is the kind of thing that makes a farmers market so special. Instead of simple commerce, each transaction is part of an ongoing relationship that benefits everyone. I am proud to support the farmers market and would much rather that my food dollar go to a local business and enrich the local economy, than add to the coffers of Big Agribusiness. I know these people and I know their products. I don't need to worry about continent wide recalls when I buy from my local butcher!

This morning I bought 5 smoked bones for my dog, a half pound of bologna, a pound of peameal bacon and a large sweet potato. It totaled less than $18!! What a value!! Tonight for dinner we will be having peameal on a bun and sweet potato fries. (See recipe below)

The one thing that bothers me about the farmers market is the advancing age of many of the customers. In larger cities it has become trendy to shop at farmers markets, but I don't feel that the trend has caught on so much here. Very few of the customers are people shopping for a family. From my own observation I perceive them to be either elderly people who were once farmers themselves, or wealthy baby boomers. I feel that families could save a lot of money on their food bill, get better quality food and benefit the local economy if more of the family's food came directly from the farmer rather than the grocery store. It would be interesting to do a comparison shop, to see what a family's groceries would cost at the market vs the grocery store. An idea for a later time I think....

Sweet Potato Oven Fries
sweet potatoes
olive oil
Preheat oven to 400*
Cut potato into thin slices and brush with olive oil. Arrange on cookie sheet or in a 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, or I like to use seasoned salt, or you can use the seasoning of your choice. Bake in oven for about 10 mins, turn, and bake until wedges are tender.

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