Saturday Food Thoughts
This past Saturday at the local Portland, Maine Farmers Market I had a great conversation with one of the vendors about the differences between shopping in open Italian markets, at local farmers markets here in Maine, and the supermarket. What is it that makes open fruit and vegetable markets such vital and fascinating places? While I was wandering around in the fresh air on that gorgeous morning, I was observing other people shopping. I noticed that there was lively conversation, opinions, suggestions, and pride surrounding the wonderful array of fruits, vegetables, flowers, jams, and other assorted homemade goods. People were socializing with their neighbors, there were children munching on fresh apples and baked goods and even the dogs were welcome. I felt how lucky I am to be so close to where and from whom my food comes.
Walking through the market, I felt a sense of human connection and interaction that I have missed from my years living in Europe. If we don’t support our local growers and farmers in this country, we are throwing away an invaluable gift and continuing to distance ourselves from our food and our food sources. If we only shop in supermarkets, we become increasingly estranged from what food should really mean to us. Food is more than sustenance. When we embrace our farming tradition, seasonality, quality, and the culture of fresh food, we find social, mental, and physical connections the value of which cannot be underestimated. I urge you to buy local, buy fresh, support a clean environment, and the great farming traditions of this country.