Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Food And The Local Economy

Let’s face it: food truly lies at the foundation of every culture, and of every economy. We all must eat. Most family celebrations and community gatherings happen around food. And food begins with farms.

Our farmers, with the knowledge that they apply, the experience that they bring to their land, and the labour with which they toil, are the basis of our local economy. Support them, and you support the health not only of your families (through the amazingly fresh and nutritious things that you can buy and put tantalizingly… even decadently on your kitchen table), but the health of our local economy as well. It is one of the key reasons to shop at farmers’ markets.

But there is more to the story. There is an untouchable richness of experience that you will harvest, spending time at your local farmers’ market with a local producer. Do not rush the process. Stop and hear the stories of the farmers and craftsmen, the food producers and artisans. Get to know them. They will give you amazing insights into life itself, and they will give you a sense of the history of the item that you are purchasing. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. You will be richly rewarded with advice, and a connection. Yup. I firmly believe that a farmers’ market is a place to set down roots.

Too often in our society, we are distanced from the things that we buy. We do not know where they come from, what experiences they had (both good and bad) to wind up in our bodies, in our homes, in our lives. Get to know your grower and producer, your artisan and craftsman, and you get to know a little more about this rich culture that we live in. Hear the stories and the advice and your life will be richer for the interaction. For the connection.
Here are two of our market's vendors from T.R. Greenhouses and Prairie Mill Bread Company.
Stuck for ideas? Here are some questions to ask of your farmers’ market vendor:
  • Where did this come from?
  • How did you come up with the design for this item?
  • Where did you gather the materials to make this item?
  • How have you found the growing season so far?
  • What is really good at your stall today?
  • What can I do with (insert the name of something that you are unfamiliar with… kale, kholorabi, a particular bedding plant, an intriguing spice mix)?
  • How are your animals raised?
  • What is it like to be a (insert occupation here… chicken farmer, meat producer, food truck vendor, jewelry designer, hot house grower)?
  • What, in the world, is that!?
  • What did this item do to wind up here, at your stall?
  • What is your favourite way of preparing this vegetable? This cut of meat? This partially prepared food item?

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Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee

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