Who knew?  I wish I had done it sooner.  After months as a sort of shut-in, writing, reading and cooking, I got up early and made my first trip of the season to the Farmer’s Market. That long slog through winter when fresh ingredient acquisition is difficult at best had finally come to an end. I mean no disrespect to our large grocers because they provide for us very well when our local growers can’t. I mean, somebody somewhere grew it…right?

I arrived early and got a good parking spot.  This is essential because when the long line of cars spots someone walking out with bags in hand, everyone stops and puts on a blinker hoping for your space.  I frequently have to make multiple trips to the car.  Sorry.  Yep, I’m THAT guy!  I couldn’t help myself.  I didn’t even have to open my eyes.  You know the food is fresh when you can smell a cucumber.  The almost overpowering aroma of fresh strawberries was everywhere.  As I walked down the crowded center aisle, I could smell the fresh basil plants and then the intoxicating smell provided by the artisan bakers with their bread, pastries, and focaccia. It was such an exhilarating experience that I made four trips in total just to take it all in.
I began loading my reusable cloth bags.  My travels through the market gave me the opportunity to formulate a battle plan.  I would select root vegetables first to make sure they were at the bottom of the bags to prevent any damage to more delicate items.  First beets and a cantaloupe.  Then celery, carrots, onions and radishes and three different kinds of new potatoes.  (already contemplating my first trip to the car)  I decided to fill another bag with a variety of beautiful fresh greens and headed for the parking lot.
Sorry folks, I’m not leaving yet.  I’ll just keep looking at the ground on my way back in.
Trip number two.  This was when I decided that fresh veg was the star.  Fresh cut asparagus,
beautiful baby Japanese eggplant, cucumbers and bell peppers in a rainbow of colors.  I found heirloom tomatoes that you could smell 20 feet away.  They were so sexy that they didn’t even look real.  Finally, the plums and berries rest gently on top and are treated with great care and respect.  This may not seem like a big deal to a lot of people, but when your senses and your imagination are primed with such beautiful things, all you can think about is
“I can’t wait to get home and do something special with this stuff!”  I feel that I owe this to the wonderful farm families that toiled to sustain the rest of us.

That brings me to one more point that I want to make, and I have wanted to make it for years.
You may not be aware, but these local growers and their families are up long before the sun.
They are out harvesting produce while we sleep.  Loading it into trucks and trailers and bringing it to the market for load-in by 5:00 am so that everything can be unloaded and beautifully displayed in time for the opening bell at 8:00 am.  They have every right to feel incredibly proud of the items they put forth.  You see and feel genuine enthusiasm and gratitude from these hard working people AND their children.  I have yet to see a youngster raised on a farm, show anything but courtesy and respect.  These young people know the value of work and have terrific communication skills.  You won’t see any cell phones among this bunch.  They are just a tech savvy as any other youngster, but they are fully engaged in reality and are so polite and helpful that it restores your faith in the future.  Today, my only burden is struggling under the weight of incredible, locally grown food from real people who really “Get It!”
Yes, today I feel alive, and I owe it all to local farm families.  God Bless em!
Thank you!  And, I’ll be back often until the snow flies.

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