Despite the rain, the Palatine Farmer’s Market is fairly busy this morning. In early summer, the offerings are sometimes slim, but this morning in late July, each table (carefully tented with makeshift tarps) is piled high with fruits and vegetables. Soggy but determined farmers offered discounts to dedicated customers who ignored the thunder and drizzle.
I love buying produce from the people who grew it—voting with my wallet against industrialized farming. Walking the booths, talking with the farmers, asking them about recipes, nibbling a few samples—it’s a simple Saturday morning joy for me. I don’t rush through like I would at the grocery store–I amble, reusable bags slung over my shoulder. While you see some fo the same items you’d see at a grocery store, there’s also some unique offerings. I love seeing huge cantaloupes with a bit of dirt still clinging to them, piled in a wooden bin on a folding table, or artfully arranged patty-pan squash.
I buy free-range eggs in a rainbow of colors and a slab of ribs from the farmer who raises grass-fed buffalo, pigs, cows. I’m tempted by a variety of veggies but end up organic beets, beefsteak and grape tomatoes, and four round zucchini, about the size of tennis balls, that I plan to serve with some sort of stuffing in them. (Recipe suggestions, anyone?)
I select homemade bread (half sourdough, half yeast) from a booth with twenty kinds of bread; blueberries from the Amish farmer who says “God bless you” as he hands me my change. I can’t resist a tub of olive-pomegranate tapenade—a unique creation invented by the wife of the man who sells it. I’m intrigued by homemade lemon rosemary pasta from a woman who tends her booth in a wheelchair—she suggests making it into a pasta salad. I buy it.
I’m irked that our culture is so far removed from the source of our food—and I wonder how I can change that. Shopping the local farmer’s market is one way. It’s a win-win: I help local farmers, my family gets healthy, fresh food. The farmers market feeds my family, but it also feeds my soul.