Being a good neighbor -- Being a good friend

As many of you know, I'm not much on "new-fangled" stuff. I live a life based on simple values and practices........... even though, that simplicity may be a bit harder to do and take a bit longer. I swear I was born century too late......... but that discussion is for another day.

Today ........ I'm talking about Friends of the Freight House Farmers Market and why you should be involved. Scratch that!! Let's talk about why you need to be involved in the food you eat.

Most Americans are two or three generations away from the farm. Farms are exotic places on gravel roads with red barns and tall blue silos where men drive large green tractors and have names like MacDonald. I've spoken to women (not young girls) that don't know how to cook a round steak, have never eaten Swiss chard, will never taste a turnip and will never know that not all eggs are white.

Grocery stores are mindless places to shop. You speak to no one. You walk up and down the aisles -- and reach for the product with the most successful advertising campaign. You pick up meat from a refrigerated case -- with no idea what hormones have been fed to the steer. You have no clue that the eggs you picked up came from CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) where 1000 hens can be caged in an area the size of your bathroom.

But your local farmers' market is different. Vendors come with smiles!! Yea !! What a concept!!! They willingly share their growing practices and how they raise their animals. I have learned more cooking techniques from the farmers' market than in the 400 cookbooks in my kitchen.

Twenty years ago -- when I first started attending the market -- I would leave with my seasonal delights -- proud of my purchases. I didn't buy "groceries". I bought food. Real food. With flavor, taste and provenance. I knew where it was grown, who planted it, who watered it and who picked it. I knew where it got its soul.

I remember making my first pesto from bags of wonderful basil -- the spicy smell would permeate my kitchen until the next week when I would buy more. And I would dry tomatoes for the winter salads and can blueberries for cobblers. And I learned that cabbage could be cooked on the grill. And I would share my weekly finds with my friends.

And I learned what community was all about.

And that is why you should be part of your local market. To be part of the most exciting movement in America today -- to know what we are eating. You are eating three times a day. Isn't it worth the effort to taste it??? To taste real food again. You need to know the taste of a crisp local salad. You need to smell fresh bread made without preservatives. You need to eat a strawberry so good .......... your mouth craves another one!!!

And now -- its the "So what" moment. I need help from my local friends and readers. As a member of Friends of the Freight House Farmers Market, I'm asking for your help. We are looking for volunteers to help our market grow and flourish and bloom like the flowers in my garden!!! Can you read to children or sell bags to the public? Are you a writer that could help with a letter or do you have great computer skills? Do you know of entertainment for the market or could you help set up an event? Do you have a couple of hours during the year to help? That is all we are asking.

We are having an organizational meeting on Saturday April 18th at 2pm at the Freight House in downtown Davenport. And we need your talent and your sense of community. If you care about what you eat and the environment around you and your neighbors.......... this is the group for you.

As market season approaches -- I urge you to grab a bag and head for a local produce stand, a farmer's market or a U-pick farm. (Oops! Am I bad??? That was shameless self-promotion!)

Your taste buds will thank you, a farmer will thank you and I will thank you.


melanie said…
You have a great way with words! I'm hundreds of miles away...and I want to come to the meeting! Our market doesn't do such a good job of promotion and inclusion-I think some of our board members need to read your blog!
WOW!! I totally agree that I love the way you write. I can't help with the local market part. But if anyone is looking for beef, they can look me up.

Keep marketing and promoting. (especially yourself) Because the more people you touch, that will make even more people think about WHERE their food comes from.
clink said…
Thank you so much for the kind words. I am certain a couple of English teachers, a journalism prof and my mother would disagree with you too!!! But I write like I talk and that is all I know.

I do not sell at market --I strictly do a u-pick from home. Its weird but it was the right decision for me. But I believe that farming is not an individual act but an act of community.

So to support the farmers market for those things that I do not raise -- is "supporting" myself.

We are very lucky to have an active, thriving farmers market that is working very hard together. It has taken time and a lot of energy. The Friends of Market is a new organization with some fantastic leadership. I'm just honored that they find a place for me to help.

Keep checking the markets website -- might help you with some ideas.

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