I can’t believe how quickly it happened. One day I was happily buying kiwi and apples at the grocery store, the next I was cringing at the international and out-of season produce. In two short months, the Farmers Market ruined me.
It started innocently enough, I started frequenting the Farmers Market in the summer when the Heirloom tomatoes and berries were at their sweetest. Next came the winter CSA and the discovery of fresh fall offerings like swiss chard and turnips and rediscovering pears. Soon the grocery store became a place for basics like milk, cream and rice. Even my eggs were purchased from the Farmers Market or obtained through my CSA.
And then, disaster.
We had our first serious frost of the year last week. On Tuesday I chose the items for my weekly CSA as usual, arranged to split the box with a friend and have her pick it up since I was going to be out-of-town at my husband’s oldest daughter’s college graduation. On Friday, I received an e-mail telling me the CSA was cancelled, there would be no produce to pick up this week or until spring thanks to the frost. I was disappointed and felt bad for the farmers but still hadn’t realized the impact that simple e-mail would have on me.
Since I wasn’t able to get to the Farmers Market, I stopped at the grocery store yesterday to buy some basic produce: kale, apples, onions. The green onions were thin and sickly compared to the hearty Farmers Market specimens I had been buying. The apples were organic but had been flown in from overseas, so the flavor is questionable. The kale looked fine, but there were only two varieties on offer, not the four or five I’ve become accustomed to. I picked out a few things with a feeling that I was settling with every choice. That’s when I realized the Farmers Market had ruined me for all other produce.
If you choose to experience the freshest and most flavorful produce available, head to your local Farmers’ Market. But beware, you will quickly lose your appetite for waxy apples and flavorless tomatoes and will be forced to get creative with your cooking, think seriously about canning, and deprive yourself of non-seasonal offerings, waiting in anticipation for the flavor burst of spring market offerings. As for me, I will be scouring the Farmers Market this Saturday for any fresh produce that remains locally available and learning how to can and dehydrate fresh foods so when the farmers’ bounty once again reaches the market, I’ll be ready to preserve, freeze and feast upon straight from-the-farm produce all year-long.