Farmers’ Markets

The farmers’ market in the small town where I just bought my house actually coincides with my regular day off. Yay! So my newest tradition is to go there every week while they’re open, June through September. It’s a delightful way to spend a summer afternoon. It beats the hell out of shopping at Walmart.

I like supporting local farmers, and not having to worry that my fruit and veggies were treated with harsh chemicals so that they’d survive a long truck drive to market. Often the things I buy are still warm from the sun and dirty from the soil. I love that.

And I tend to eat more fruit and veggies if I’ve made the effort to go to a farmer’s market. This is, of course, a win for me. And everything is fresh and usually delicious.

I also love that they take WIC (Women, Infants and Children) vouchers, and if you have an EBT (Food Stamp) card, you get 50% off. And then there’s the SFMNP (Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program). This provides low income senior citizens with vouchers that can be used for produce, honey, and fresh-cut herbs. Since I’m sure I’ll qualify for that some day, I hope that program still exists in about 20 years.

Even if you don’t qualify for any of those programs, the items available at farmers markets are usually very reasonably priced, because you’ve cut out the middle man. And you know you’re supporting the local economy. You also get to people watch, which is an added bonus.

I often buy cherries and then sit on a park bench to eat them and watch kids toss the ball around, women pushing babies in strollers, and cult members passing out leaflets. Politicians sometimes show up to glad handle their constituents, and often there are experts discussing recipes or giving good gardening advice. And I usually get to hear at least 3 languages on any given day. That’s music to my ears.

It’s a great way to meet local artisans, too. Butchers. Bakers. Candle makers. Purveyors of honey. Artists. Florists. I’m dazzled by the color and creativity.

I wonder why pet shelters don’t bring animals there for adoption? “Look honey, I bought peaches and a puppy!” I think it would be a perfect pairing.

Most of all, I like the sense of community that I feel at farmers’ markets. In a world that’s increasingly divided, it’s nice to be able to come together over something we can all agree on: good food. I’ve yet to see a fight break out at a farmers’ market. It’s kind of like an unspoken neutral zone.

Even though Autumn is my favorite season, I’ll be kind of sad when October rolls around and the farmers’ markets close for the year.  Take advantage of them while you still can, folks, and maybe I’ll see you next summer!

farmers market

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Glutton Free

Since I’ve come to Seattle, I’ve noticed that a lot of people here are quite dedicated to having a gluten free diet. I’m not here to discuss the pros and cons of such a decision, but I do give kudos to people who take their health seriously. I’m not quite to that gluten free stage yet. Baby steps.

I’m still focused on becoming glutton free. I try to avoid buffets, because I generally overeat in an attempt to get my money’s worth, and then I leave there feeling slightly sick. This is not self-kindness. (But every now and then I can’t resist going to the Chinese buffet down the street to graze like a bovine. Rules were meant to be broken.)

I also tend to eat my anger. Piss me off and I can go through an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s Triple Caramel Chunk in one sitting. And before sending out for pizza, I need to learn to check in with myself and figure out if I’m fuming. I don’t know why I think that punishing my body is the best way to deal with my fury at an external source, but there you have it.

I must say that I am doing a lot better than I once did. I rarely have fast food. I do go for organic and local food whenever possible. Even though I tend to pinch pennies at the grocery store, I have given myself a free ride when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Money is no object in the produce section, and farmers’ markets are the one place in my world where I don’t even second guess my urges. The healthier the better, and prices be damned.

I’ve also moved more toward vegetarianism. I’d say that my “meatless Mondays” happen about 4 days a week now. But I must admit I still love a good burger every once in a while.

In terms of gluttony in other areas of my life, I think I’m doing better with each passing year. I really have very little desire to accumulate “stuff” anymore. In fact, I’m making great strides in getting rid of things. This is primarily because I’m sick of lugging all my junk from pillar to post. What good does it do me?

I’m much more interested in experiences these days, rather than possessions. A good memory means much more to me than a tchotchke. I chafe at the idea of even one more item that requires dusting.

So, I’m working really hard on the sin of gluttony. Next, I probably should tackle the sin of sloth.

Nah. Maybe tomorrow.

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Georg Emanuel Opiz der Voller, 1804

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Sugar n’ Fat Sauce

That’s what a friend of mine calls macaroni and cheese. He has a point. Pasta converts itself to sugar in your body, and that cheese sauce is mostly fat. Thinking about it that way sort of robs it of its appeal, even if you did grow up in the South like I did.

Educating yourself about what you’re putting into your body is a double edged sword. On the one hand, you’ll begin to make healthier food choices. On the other, your life will become much more complicated, time consuming, and expensive.

A consumer who wishes to be educated will spend much more time reading food labels. Gone will be the days of running into the grocery store and basically sweeping random boxes into your cart. (What? That doesn’t resonate with you? That’s probably why you’re a size three and I hate you on general principle.)

The more educated you become, the more you want to buy organic, local, unprocessed ingredients. That equals more time in the kitchen, but also a great deal more flavor.

Farmers’ Markets will begin to appeal to you in ways you never imagined. More effort, more errands, but you’ll adapt. But when you actually buy fruit and vegetables that don’t come in a can, things will rot if you don’t keep up with them. You actually have to have a plan. What a concept.

My transformation into a healthier human being isn’t happening over night, but I feel the momentum starting to increase. I’m not going to wake up tomorrow as a slow food movement vegan. I’ll still want my sugar n’ fat sauce now and then. But change is coming. Yes, yes indeed.

macncheese
[Image credit: food.com]

Community Supported Agriculture

If ever I am no longer a party of one (or should I say, “if only”), one of the first things I plan to do is join a CSA. Community Supported Agriculture is a brilliant idea. You pay a monthly fee, and almost as if by magic, each week a box of fresh, local, in-season produce shows up at your door.

Not only are you supporting the local economy and helping local farms to thrive, but you are treating your body to the local, organically grown harvest in all its glorious variety, and helping the environment by not having your food shipped in from great distances. There’s nothing about this concept that doesn’t make perfect sense.

Sadly, it’s been my experience that it’s way too much food for one person, and I am someone who hates to see things go to waste. It becomes stressful, trying to keep up with the steady flow of healthy foodstuffs. Sometimes when you’re all alone, you just want to watch old movies and send out for pizza, you know? When eating your vegetables becomes a stressful chore, much like it was in childhood, something’s got to give.

But if I’m ever a party of two again, I’ll be signing up for Pacific Coast Harvest CSA, which serves the Seattle area. Just going to their website makes my mouth water. Maybe someday…

A typical box from Pacific Coast Harvest CSA. [Image credit: pacificcoastharvest.com]
A typical box from Pacific Coast Harvest CSA.
[Image credit: pacificcoastharvest.com]

Home is Where?

I’m starting to settle in to Seattle. I’m beginning to sort of know my way around. I’ve figured out where a lot of the different neighborhoods are located. I know which grocery stores I prefer. I know when to avoid the interstate (which is pretty much all of the time). I have gotten my library card and my driver license. I’ve voted.

It still feels a little like a foreign country to me, though. Given the fact that I love to travel more than anything in the world, that’s a high compliment. But I often dress inappropriately for this weather. I don’t know how things work. I often feel like people are speaking a foreign language and I don’t quite get how things are supposed to be done. There comes a time in every trip when you long for home. I have those days.

But the fact is I have been feeling rather transient for the past 4 or 5 years. That’s not Seattle’s fault. I think selling my house was the defining moment. That’s when I pulled up anchor and started drifting. I like having a home I can call my own that I can alter or remodel or neglect as I see fit, without the worry of being evicted by anyone other than the bank.

I also like having a sense of community. I like having a group of friends and a church that I feel a part of, and a strong understanding of the local gossip, politics, insider jokes and slang. I enjoy having certain traditions that I hold every year, such as attending annual festivals. I definitely do not have any of that here yet.

I think home for me is ownership, knowledge, routine, tradition, and community. It’s fitting in. It’s feeling comfortable and anchored. I’m sure I’ll get there eventually.

wizardofoz13850

There’s no place like home.