Last week torrential rain poured down on the Wednesday markets. Every vendor at the Wednesday French Broad Food Coop Market (in the Build It Naturally parking lot) was pretty much soaked to the bone. Here’s my point ~ as far as I could tell every vendor was there, all in full measure. Vegetables had been harvested, bread was baked, pastas produced, and ice-chests were loaded. Dark clouds still loomed when I arrived, but the rain had temporarily stopped.
My heart goes out to these farmers and other vendors whose very existence and bottom line depends on these summer markets, rain or shine. Most of them do at least two markets weekly, on Wednesday and Saturday. That means that the better part of the day before the market was spent harvesting and preparing. They have to pick, wash, bunch, cool, and box each different vegetable. Or maybe they stay up until the wee hours finishing a bake, only to rise a few hours later to get to the market in time. Vehicles must be loaded…with tables, tablecloths, ice, pop-up canopies, displays, shelving, signs, bags, money boxes, change, scales, and water & snacks for the kids. Oh yeah, and a friendly attitude with a smile to boot. Maybe they didn’t have time to eat breakfast or lunch, but there they are with all that good stuff we love to eat.
OK. So it does take a little more organizing to hit the tailgate markets rather than the grocery store. Ingles is open 24 hours; the tailgate markets offer a limited-availability window. If the weather is challenging, you can bet the market vendors suffered that day. These are the same people who were down on their hands and knees digging potatoes, or up to their knees in mud slogging through a field, or spending entire days hoeing weeds. I am trying to underscore the valiant effort that has gone into producing the beautiful things we are able to buy at our favorite tailgate markets. Next I hope to encourage each of us to push through the weather and our busy schedules, and show up for the farmers, bakers, cheesemakers, craftspeople, and vendors who make these markets the gifts they are.
“Set your navigation on authentic”. This quote from a billboard promoting Cherokee applies to us as well. Our farmers are the real deal. The fact that we know who grew those green beans is actually pretty meaningful. To be able to name the person who provided us with a certain food brings them into the circle of our dinner tables. Our kids may not have seen the carrots being pulled up, but at least they have met the person who pulled them up…and it wasn’t a machine.
I guess right now I’m really just preaching to the choir, so maybe you should forward this to somebody else who loves good food.
Hope you are enjoying summer!