This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about something new they've learned about their local farmers.
There's certainly a lot of work involved, from the planning and soil cultivation to the purchasing and starting seed. Then comes the planting, fertilizing, watering, weeding, and pruning, before eventually (hopefully) harvesting and finally: consuming.
But growing food is more than just work, more than a list of tasks. There's a great sense of responsibility about what goes into producing the things we fuel our bodies with. This is something I really love getting to experience when I go to the farmers' market: each person selling there is intimately acquainted with whatever her specialty is, be it garlic, goat cheese, hazelnuts, eggs, or fish. Each merchant is an expert on his product, and he's always happy to answer any questions I might have.
What's more, I've come to understand that there's a complex art to growing food. It takes a certain type of daring, creative person to choose to invest their livelihood in food production:
- The man selling the organic, free range eggs has a personal relationship with his chickens—he knows what they do all day and what they most prefer to eat. He even knows which ones are the alphas who like to pick on the more timid ones.
- The women selling bouquets know which flowers grew heartier this year because of the lack of rain, and which kinds will last the longest on your mother's dinner table. They pick from large buckets of fresh flowers one by one, working quickly right before your eyes to create the most beautiful, fragrant sculptures you'll ever see.
- The teenagers working at the berry stand know how to pick out the most beautiful and appealing berries to place together in a flat, and they're proud of what they're selling. They're not shy about offering samples because they know—they know that once you've tasted just one you won't be able to walk away without buying at least a quart or two to take home with you (if they make it that far).
- The father and son at the fish stand look tired because they've been up and out in their boat since dawn. They sell the day's catch from a cooler they brought with them straight from the dock. There's nothing much fresher than that!
Shopping at farmers' markets has definitely helped me to better appreciate the food I eat. It's helped me to be more conscious about the types of food operations I support with my patronage. It's encouraged me to be intentional about eating seasonally, preserving what I can during the growing season, and doing my best to not let anything go to waste.
Beyond that, though, for me there has always been something truly magical about wandering through the market taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of a place that is so alive. There's just nothing quite so beautiful as experiencing the cycle of creation.
Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon August 14 with all the carnival links.)