The Farmers Market: A Cautionary Tale

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.

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7 Responses

  1. agreed! i hate it when i just don’t quite have the time in the day to run down to Pike Place, and instead have to go uber-corporate and stop at Whole Foods instead. Yes, it’s still organic like the apple you mentioned, but it might as well be made of sweetened cardboard this time of year. there is a big sign up in front of the tomatoes right now touting their health benefits at WF, and it makes me laugh b/c how much nutrition is really left in a wax tomato that has been picked unripe 2 months ago??

    At least we have an awesome year-round market that has fabulous in-season things (like amazing local quince right now!). Great post 🙂

  2. My farmers’ market is under ten inches of snow. I miss the tender greens. Last summer we had a major tomato blight and nearly no tomatoes in the market. Great post.

  3. Good cautionary tale! It is terrible for the farmers and the consumers, but a good reminder of the undeniable link between our climate and our food.

  4. I’m right there with you. Having grown up with a huge garden and getting fresh produce from local stands, I was hugely disappointed when I was first living on my own buying from a grocery store.

    Luckily, I live in So. CA so I am, again, truly spoiled with the amazing produce I can get from local sources.

  5. I know… I’m totally hooked. You can’t even compare, the freshness, and the smells, I just moved from NY to LA and I feel I’m at vegetables Disney World, I went to Santa Monica Farmer’s market, Hollywood Farmer’s Market, Venice, Beverly Hills, And they are all amazing. I can’t wait for spring and summer, I think will be great.

  6. Where’s Central Market? I’m in N. Capitol Hill/Montlake.

  7. OMG – I could have written this post myself! I have become extremely spoiled due to farmers markets. I too buy organic and locally as much as I can. I don’t know what part of Seattle you are in but I ave found Central Market to offer a wide variety of local and organic produce that doesn’t taste too bad. They are also less than WF. I am itching for spring already!

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