Sunday, April 15, 2012

Opening Day

Shopping malls always make me feel plain.   I recently went on the search for some jeans that fit my postpartum bod.  After wiggling into several pairs and surveying less than satisfactory results in the mirror, I left defeated.  I am not a fancy woman. I don't dye my hair and a lot of make up makes me feel like I'm pretending to be someone I'm not. I cannot justify the expense of pedicures. I like shoes that are easy and I lean towards clothes with character rather than style.  These things are generally truths of which I am confident.  However, I feel so out of place in a mall full of expensive, fussy clothes and the people purchasing them that I sometimes get a little deflated.  I forget how different we all are, how we all have different places to feel comfortable.

Farmer's Markets are my place to fit in.  You will not go to the farmer's market and feel frumpy. How can you when you are surrounded by life and talent and wholesome food being handled by the hands that grew it?   I love a farmer's market; they make me feel alive and exactly where I should be.

Yesterday was the opening day of the Certified Arkansas Farmer's Market in Argenta.  "Certified" means that every vendor is selling wares made or grown locally.  I was a bit late arriving due to a soccer game, but I wasn't too late to score some lovely salad greens, cream honey, and a quart of fresh picked strawberries. Buying food in this fashion makes me realize what we lack as a nation is respect and appreciation for our food sources.  Mass production, the pesticides and preservatives that are harming us, and the ability to transport foods across nations and oceans to buy out of season all make it possible to buy a 2 lb. carton of strawberries in February.  But do you appreciate it?  Do you pick up each berry and notice how jewel bright it glows in the sun, how the juice burst forth as soon as your teeth break skin, how there is no way to eat it without closing your eyes?  Or do you just let the last few tasteless berries mold in the fridge before remorselessly tossing them in the bin?

Something about a farmer's market commands respect for it's wares.  Every table is carefully lined with jars and produce, the people who created them full of knowledge and able to answer questions with ease about their products.  Each item purchased represents their hard work.

One more addition and I'll leave you for the day.  I just have to visually elaborate my point.  Jeremiah and I were putting together a fruit pizza for a church potluck this afternoon and polished off the last of the fresh picked berries from yesterday's market.  To finish the recipe, I pulled out the remainder of a carton of conventional strawberries I'd grabbed at the commissary this week.  I can only describe the difference in the taste between real food and mass produced food. The difference is huge but my descriptions are largely ineffective. It's really one of those things that you can only truly understand by comparing them yourself.  I do wish I could hand every one of you these berries to try because you would become a believer in locally grown, seasonal produce I am sure.
Since I can't do internet wide taste test, however, I'll have to settle for a photo.  Which one would you rather eat?

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