I finally made it to the Farmers Market this morning. It's something I have been meaning to do, along with getting my car in for an oil change, getting my wheezy cat in to see a new vet, researching new vets, going to BJ's for a refresher on my gum reserves, buying new pants, etc, etc. The reasons for trying to buy more local foods are many - it reduces ones carbon footprint, it helps the local economy, it saves money, blah, blah, blah. I can practically hear Adam's brainwashed Fox News fan parents yelling from Pennsylvania: "You liberal hippie! It's all a plot to put our hard working Walmarts out of business!" (Ironically, these folks live on 52 acres of land and pretty much already grow or personally kill all of their food...though they do buy canning supplies and ammo at Walmart.)
But I digress. Even if all those real, politically and socially motivating things do not convince you to buy local products, here's one you just can't beat: The stuff tastes better. So, a few weeks ago, after buying yet another mealy peach that was pretty much inedible, even though I know peaches are in season in my area, I took the plunge. I began committing myself almost strictly to the "homegrown" section in the supermarket. I thought this would limit my diet, but it hasn't. For one thing, I have bought and used produce that I would not have bothered with before - like Asian pears (grown in Northern Virginia, don't ask me), eggplant, and corn on the cob (more on this in a moment). This is all well and good, but I know from my handy little pamphlet distributed by Maryland's Best (http://www.marylandsbest.net/), that there should be more variety. The grocery store ran out of peaches and corn last week. While they still had tons of eggplant and bunches of absolutely delicious I-could-eat-a-flippin-pint-in-one-sitting baby tomatoes, I grew weary of the same old same old. And really? There's only so many ways to skin an eggplant.
I dutifully printed out the list of local Farmers Markets which actually sync with my schedule and location from the Maryland's Best site, and went to the market on this, a cold, rainy, fall day. They had - peppers (hot, sweet, and bell), butternut squash, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, fresh herbs, tomatoes, peaches!, onions, carrots, beets, green and yellow wax beans, chard, and cucumbers. Oddly, no eggplant. There were only two vendors there, so I made sure I brought some from each, and I was on my way. I bought so many tomatoes! They smell like heaven, and I got bunches of hot and sweet peppers, so I'm going to make fresh salsa if I can ever manage to stop reading blogs and do some recipe searches.
I really can't wait to start a garden if we ever manage to find a house. In fact, my house hunting has actually been yard hunting. It could be a big, woody lot with a tent in the middle for all I care. Umm, scratch that for I do appreciate modern plumbing.
There are some contingencies to this garden though (see how I can now use real estate jargon in my daily communication?). You see, when I was a kid, we grew all our fruits and vegetables. We planted, we weeded, we picked. And picked. And picked. My garden will (hopefully) be a stress reliever, not a stress creator. Read: tiny.
You (an innocent bystander): Oh how wonderful! You must have loved growing up with all that fresh food!
Me (a wise worker): Ahh....no. First off, I was a very picky eater and refused to eat pretty much all vegetables except corn. And we had so much corn, that my dad would put three ears per meal on each plate. None of my siblings really cares much for corn on the cob. We all OD'ed on it back in 1987. What I remember? Was the work. When the green beans came in, we picked beans for about two to three hours in the hot sun, then came inside and cleaned them. (We got to do this in the living room and watch a movie, so this was not too bad.) Then, we froze them. My parents operated the stove, boiling the beans in batches for three minutes, then racing them across the kitchen into an ice water bath. We kids were the baggers, pulling out handfuls and tossing them into bags, sucking all the air from the bags, and securing them with a twisty tie. We would finish up around 9pm.
Imagine doing this every three to four days, all summer, for various veggies and fruits. It is not really a kid's idea of fun.
So, it has taken me a good twenty years, but I am finally ready to plant a garden. A small garden. All I need now is a yard. Until then, I'm off to the Farmers Market.