Local food is all the rage. It’s the edgy thing in the food world right now. So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when I see McDonald’s trying to promote itself as a localvore or Walmart setting up pretend “farmer’s markets” (i.e. ones that avoid local farmers). I’ve come to expect a brilliant marketing façade from the big corporations, in lieu of any meaningful change to their food systems.
What is more difficult to figure out is which of the smaller farmers are, in fact, small farmers…and which are just fantastic marketers.
In Tacoma, there are many farmer’s markets in the summer, and it is amazing how far away some of the vendors travel in order to hawk their wares. It’s amazing how not-local and not-fresh some of the produce can be. Market season is just around the corner again, and what can we do as naïve spenders approaching the tables of different fruits and veggies?
Rely on community to find those farmers that are the diamonds in the ruff. Talk to the farmers, get to know them, and ask them questions. Where do they come from? How big is the farm? What is their philosophy for food production? If a farmer is not open about his farming practices, he likely has something to hide; however, a farmer who is excited to share information about his food is probably also a farmer with food that is worth getting excited about.
A CSA is Community Supported Agriculture. You start with relationships: between the farmer and the land, between the buyer and the merchant, between the owner and the farmhands. A wholesome and holistic relationship on all these levels is vital. Someone who is willing to cut corners in one area of their business is willing to cut corners in other areas as well.
A farmer that is open, gracious and a good steward of the earth is often like the food he or she grows. There may not be flashy signs or stickers to attract you. Their quality Is often understated. They don’t have much polish or finesse. But they are good to the core. Trust your gut. And once you’ve had a taste, you won’t want anything less than to return, time and again, to cultivate a lasting relationship of deep and golden worth.
Apples – We traded out some root veggies (not pictured) for extra apples
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