Sunday, March 29, 2009

Granola Mom's Unplanned Planned Farmers' Market Experience

I was a guest blogger on my friend's Book Club blog and decided to use the following ramblings as my post today:

My favorite summertime morning event is just around the corner. The Broad Ripple Farmer's Market opens May 2nd! In the summer, I usually plan to go the Farmer's Market starting on a Monday prior to the following Saturday. For some reason, I simply drop hints to the hubby that it sure would be fun to take Mr. Smackdown, Mr. Easy, and Mr. Smiley to a venue where we could support our local farmer. After all, the children need to know where their food comes from. I usually get a grunt and we go on to talk about how the hubby could squeeze a run in on the Monon. I don't mind this addition to my plan, just as long as I can see local produce.

Saturday morning arrives. And we have not prepared for our field trip. Unexpected deliberation ensues. What Farmer's Market will we visit? Do we have any cash? Do we take the Lion Hunter, our dog? Is there enough time before naps? What about yard work?

Even though I had planned all along to peruse the farmers market, our departure resembles poor lack of planning, much scrambling around, and an excess of items placed in the jogging stroller. Nevertheless, we scamper into the Loser Cruiser and plan our morning once road bound. Off to the market we go, with fresh smiles on our faces, windows down, and the sun beaming down on our forearms. In back, Mr. Smackdown and Mr. Easy giggle over what treat we will purchase.

For me, the best part about a farmer's market is the people watching. I love to see who comes, who belongs to whom, and what dogs people bring. A parking lot becomes a rich tent for an imaginative mind. My engineering husband wants to plan our path through the vendors canopies. I am happy to simply stroll through--often at a distance from the farmers, unless they have a free food to sample (like Trader's Point Creamery). For some reason, I am bashful to talk to our produce provider, because I feel guilty if we do not purchase their hard labor!

The patrolling commences. Me with no goal and my hubby thinking about what our refrigerator needs to eat. Typically, we take a lap around the market having purchased nothing. Remember, I have no goal in coming to the farmer's market. I simply want to experience the excitement of all these people traveling to one location for a local flavor. Brushing shoulders with people who grow my food and other fellow consumers is enough to make me happy.

But you can't leave the market without having purchased something! So that begins lap two, and sometimes lap three. We often end up with a muffin from Scholar's Inn, and the most recent addition to our food trials was Chimney Bread--hot bread cooked in front of you on a thick wood spindle. Our summer purchases result in locally grown blueberries and blackberries, of which are gone by the time we get home. In the fall, we usually purchase corn and apples. If we happen to go to the Carmel Farmer's Market, we savor a fruit slushie and munch on hot kettle corn.

However, this year, I am challenged by a recent re-reading of the book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver. What would our trips to the Farmer's Market look like if we made a family commitment to eat only locally grown and raised produce, meat, honey and cheese? Our trips to the market would be much more intentional and we truly would get to know our local farmer if we purchase from them weekly. It would teach our children where their food comes from and who grew it, if it wasn't from our garden. It would give them a chance to interact with other like-minded individuals and an outing to look forward to each week. To make this easier to accomplish in the kitchen we could then cook from Deborah Madison's book, Local Flavors.

I think I am up for the challenge. If anything, it will provide candy for my imagination, organic candy, that is. Be sure to check out a Farmer's Market near you! (Thanks for the map, Sarah!)