Sunday, May 30, 2010

Farmers' Markets and Locavores

The Sunday Farmers' Market at Evergreen Village Square near the Evergreen Valley College in San Jose has become a magnet for the local community. More and more, Americans are saying no to processed and fast foods. You can get a sense of it in the bustling bazaars that farmers' markets have become, now over five thousand, across the nation. Organic, locally-grown food is healthy, delicious and sustainable. Prices are no higher than in the large grocery store chains, and often lower. But it is the fact that you feel you have a direct link to the farmers who produce your food that makes the difference. You know them and so you know your food, forging a trust that no grocery chain can replicate.

On this particular Sunday, on the eve of Summer, our farmers' market is overflowing with produce and people. There are fresh mustard greens, sweet peas, fava beans, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, artichokes, red and white onions, radishes, cucumbers, lettuce, celery, beets, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, chard, squash, leeks, basil, garlic, cilantro, parsley, scallions, cauliflowers, spinach, yams, bok choys, and pumpkins. For fruits, there are cherries, blueberries, oranges, nectarines, apricots, peaches and strawberries. Producers are offering generous helpings of their fruits to persuade buyers to buy. A ten-pound bag of oranges cost $5 dollars, a basket of ripe, fat blueberries $4. Products are flying off the, well, tables. There are also jalapeno, hot mango and ginger chutnies, vegetable-stuffed bread, pita bread, and spicy black-bean hummus.

Women in colorful saris and kimonos abound. Smiling fathers in straw hats adroitly maneuver their babies in strollers around crowds. Children scoot around the fountain at the center of the market, laughing hysterically as they splash water on each other. A musician is coaxing mournful sounds from his violin while a guitarist is strumming and singing his heart out next to a table of orchids. Friends and families are animated. Strangers are no longer strangers as they freely discuss the benefits of this and that green. "Each bunch for just a dollar! What a bargain!"

A sociologist has estimated that people have ten times as many conversations in farmers' markets as they do in the supermarket. It must be more than that, if this market is any indication. No one is in a hurry. There is time to chat, pause, smile, and appreciate food grown locally with love and care.

Farmers' markets are helping to bring the family meal back. Children are learning where the food that they eat come from, which is more than enough reason why you should visit your local farmers' market with your family every week if you can.

No comments: