Monday, October 5, 2009

Not quite a farmer's market

Over at Charlotte's food blog, How to Shuck an Oyster, she had an interesting post yesterday morning on the farmers' markets phenomenon. While I'll let you read for yourself what Charlotte has to say on that topic, I dropped in with a comment that I've never actually been to a farmer's market. And that's true. I haven't. At Charlotte's blog I flippantly said it's because feeling morally inferior is a comfort zone for me, but my real reasons for not bothering were more personal. Though I grow my own organic food, it's nowhere near enough to feed us every day. So that's not it. And while I could go on about elitism (which is rife amongst foodies) and proletarianism (which is rife at supermarkets) they're not it, either.

The simple truth is that I hate being in crowds, of any sort. Can't stand being in a crush of people, amid a busy throng. The various farmers' markets I've seen don't look very inviting at all, even if the produce is lovely and the shopping good. I guess it's some kind of panic attack thing, but whenever I'm in a crowd all I want to do is get out of there, especially the noisy crowds. I've left so many music concerts and other 'events' over the years that Pam and I have a happy agreement that some of the gigs she goes to are 'not suitable for Jamie' but others are.

And when did this simple truth occur to me? It was while peacefully harvesting a bit more home-grown organic produce from my own backyard, all on my own. I do a lot of thinking while I do various bits of basic domestic drudgery, such as weeding or pottering in the garden, or washing up or chopping vegies in the kitchen. Greatly under-estimated thing is a spot of contemplative drudgery. However, back to the harvest itself...

Mini farmer's market harvest number one: ruby chard. It's so pretty I have been putting off harvesting this stuff as I just like the look of it in the garden. It actually does look better than it tastes (ie, 'Sensational' v 'OK'), but it does taste OK, if you mix it with fetta cheese and shallots and nutmeg and turn it into spanakopita.

Mini farmer's market harvest number two: beetroot. Two plants were growing close together and I thought I'd pull out just one, but they came out together, clinging to each other by the roots. They immediately reminded me of two cats a girlfriend and I once bought, many years ago. We went to a house to buy one all-black kitten, and when we picked up the all-black kitten, another one (all-black, but with white feet and white half-moustache) came up attached to the all-black guy. Both were clinging onto each other for dear life. We couldn't bring ourselves to separate them, and so they both came home. But I digress...

Mini farmer's market harvest number three was a successful thinning of slightly overcrowded carrots. Grown from seed they're all doing fine, but most of them need another week or so of growth to get up to a good size.

So here's one of the 'thinnings', a small but perfectly formed short carrot. One thing I like about carrots is not cooking them. Wash, peel, eat straight away. That's my carrot-eating philosophy. I just love the taste of crisp, tender, oh-so-carrotty, freshly-harvested carrot.

Cheaper than a farmer's market, definitely organic and home-grown and, best of all, quieter and much less crowded – my backyard farmer's mini market!


Bangchik and Kakdah said...

There are farmer's market here in Malaysia too... called pasar tani. After a while, farmers feel convenient not to trade but to just garden/farm, and therefore farmer's market become playground for traders/business people and farmers just send their produce there or wait for their produce to be collected. ~bangchik

howtoshuckanoyster said...

If I had a garden like yours Jamie, I would never go to a farmer's market either! Beautiful pix as always ...

Onesimus said...

Our town started a twice monthly farmer's market two or three years ago.
At first it was very popular, with a healthy number of stalls offering all kinds of local produce.

For a time the town's people enjoyed the novelty and it was popular and lively meeting place.

I'm not sure what changed first or why - but now there are hardly any stalls and the visitor numbers have dropped.
Without customers the stall holders aren't going to bother setting up - and without the stalls, there will be no customers.

It's sad to see how much it has declined in such a short time after a very promising start.