Saturday morning was cool and cloudy. It was a perfect day to venture into our local Pick-Your-Own Strawberries field, on its opening day. About an hour later, 10 pounds of strawberries covered my kitchen counter, laid out on dishtowels, still damp from the previous night’s rain. After a quick shower and change of my equally damp strawberry-picking clothes, I was off on my next mission: opening day of our local Farmers’ Market.
The Farmers’ Market’s Facebook page cautioned potential visitors that the cool, wet spring had delayed the arrival of many vegetable crops. But this was no reason to stay home. After making my rounds, visiting every booth to see what each farmer/producer had to offer, I filled my market bag with locally raised goat stew meat, a locally raised Muscovy duck, locally produced cornbread mix (I can make it from scratch, but this mix is fantastic), a locally mixed Ethiopian seasoning mix, locally grown beets w/greens (a new farmer to the market, she was the only one with beets), locally/hydroponically grown watercress and basil, the first cherry tomatoes of the season, and locally produced granola, spiced nuts and a chocolate-covered mint patty.
There were plenty of other locally produced/grown products available; eggs, goat cheeses, goat milk, goat yogurt, baked treats, lettuce, garlic scapes, radishes, herbs, seasoning mixes, relishes, cake mix, beef, chicken, pork, and of course strawberries.
Earlier in the week I had already picked up a freshly-cut head of lettuce, a couple quart baskets of strawberries (we truly cannot get enough strawberries), and a bunch of asparagus at a farmstand near home that also features duck eggs, raw milk, and honey products.
But eating locally is not just all about me, or my kitchen, or the products I am able to procure. I know many of the folks at the Farmers’ Market by name, and plan on introducing myself to the new ones I don’t know. The farmstand near my home has been a fixture in our lives for over 10 years. We celebrate the coming of summer together each year, marveling over the weather, the bounty, or scarcity, of each seasonal crop, and share ideas and cooking tips. When I pull these products out of the refrigerator or pantry, I see the faces of the people whose passion and hard work made them possible. I see my neighbors. I see my community. Connection with those people inspires respect for the food they have provided me and my family. I’m pretty sure it’s one of the reasons it all tastes so good. I am grateful for every mouthful.